Weary politicians from Montgomery and Prince George's counties, who employed widely different styles and strategies at the 1985 General Assembly, said yesterday they won record amounts of new state construction money for their respective jurisdictions.
In Rockville, leaders of Montgomery's House and Senate delegations joined County Executive Charles W. Gilchrist at an afternoon news conference to issue a seven-page, single-spaced summation of their legislative "highlights." The legislators and Gilchrist, who worked fairly harmoniously to win money for new roads and schools, said they have a commitment from the state for approximately $12 million for construction projects.
There was no such fanfare in Upper Marlboro, the Prince George's County seat, but there might have been. County Executive Parris N. Glendening, who tangled publicly with the local delegation during the 90-day session, won $1.6 million -- and promises for about $20 million more -- for a proposed county justice center in Hyattsville.
In addition, Prince George's received more than $2 million in extra funding for a technology institute, an equestrian center, a special education facility for young people and other local projects, and $1 million for school construction.
In the suburban competition among Montgomery, Prince George's, Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties, "We fared the best," declared state Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., chairman of the Prince George's state senators.
Miller said the new and committed state money "is the largest amount of capital funds and the largest volume of state money that Prince George's has ever gotten -- or at least in the 16 years" he has served in the General Assembly.
Montgomery Sen. Laurence Levitan made a virtually identical claim. "I don't think anybody walked away with as near as much as we did," he said.
Levitan and other Montgomery officials touted 1985 as the banner legislative session for the affluent county, one in which they gained capital construction grants totaling more than all previous years combined.
Montgomery, which is beset by classroom crowding and chronic highway congestion in the growing "upcounty" area north of Rockville, wrested $2.9 million for school renovations and $1.6 million for planning improvements to Rte. 118, a heavily used commuter route in the I-270 corridor.
The legislators said they were confident that Gov. Harry Hughes will accelerate the Rte. 118 improvements, which will cost $8 million.
Montgomery also won another $3 million for a biotechnology center near I-270, subsidies to the local Ride-On bus system and improvements to Suburban Hospital and a historic railway station in Gaithersburg.
"You don't get things in Annapolis if you roll over and play dead politically," said Gilchrist, who had admonished the House and Senate delegations in January to make $40 million in road and school funding their top priority.
While the county fell far short of that goal this year, the request marked a departure from Montgomery's age-old legislative strategy of merely fending off assaults to its prized programs.
"They finally wised up," said Victor L. Crawford, a former Montgomery senator who returned to Annapolis this year to lobby for the County Council. "You gotta go down there and ask for the moon -- and you may get one of the tallest mountains."
By contrast, unity was not the byword between the Prince George's legislators and Glendening, who failed late in the session to have county delegations support, or even introduce, a proposed tax on commercial consumption of energy. Glendening said the money was needed to begin improvements in education and vital services, but the county's representatives in Annapolis said the money was unneccessary.
"The bottom line, as far as dollars and cents is concerned, is that the county did very well," said Sen. Leo Green, a Bowie Democrat. "As far as any disappointments, it's that we weren't able to get together and address the future needs of Prince George's County."
Tim Ayers, a spokesman for Glendening, said, "Next year, we'll try a more unified approach." But Miller said he doubts that such a strategy works in Annapolis, where alliances within county delegations and between jurisdictions may shift over time.
"You should lay your plans and then go about your business quietly," he said. "Otherwise, the next time you go to put your hand in the state's cookie jar, you may find the lid slammed shut in summary fashion."