ANNAPOLIS, JAN. 21 -- Gov. William Donald Schaefer today asked the Maryland General Assembly to approve an $815 million capital program for the next budget year that includes less money for Washington area school and jail construction.
The overall construction program showed some of the effects of a constricted Maryland economy, declining nearly $85 million from last year's request.
In his budget request for building during the year that begins July 1, Schaefer today asked to use $33.1 million in general tax funds next year for the building program, compared with $77.3 million in the current budget. Counties would share $25.4 million allocated for local jail construction, less than half the amount they got this year.
In addition, $53 million would be set aside for school construction projects, a drop of $7 million from last year's initial request. However, the fast-growing Montgomery County school system would get more than $7 million for schools, and Prince George's County would receive $9.5 million for jail expansion.
"It's unbelievable that they would cut back school construction," said Sen. Ida G. Ruben (D-Montgomery), chairman of the county's Senate delegation. "I understand we are short of funds all over, but I'm hoping there will be some other monies put into a supplementary budget. Our schools are bursting at the seams."
Montgomery enrollment grew by nearly 3,500 this year and is expected to rise 4,000 more next year.
Among the bigger-ticket items in his budget, Schaefer asked for $88 million to begin buying buildings in Baltimore now leased for state office space. His administration opted to purchase existing Baltimore office buildings rather than follow a recommendation to construct a $200 million complex to house state agencies. The state budget office said today that Maryland could save $126 million over 25 years by owning, rather than renting, office space.
More than $470 million, or 58 percent of the total capital budget, would be devoted to environmental programs and education, said Arthur H. Hilsenrad, deputy secretary of the Department of Budget and Fiscal Planning. The University of Maryland system would get $114 million, including $15.2 million for a computer and space sciences building at College Park.
Other expenditures in Prince George's County would include $5.3 million for a Laurel armory, $2.5 million for Buck Lodge Middle School, $4 million for a College Park fire station, $1.5 million for a regional office for Department of Natural Resources police and $3.4 million for McKeldin Library at the University of Maryland.
In Montgomery, $2.9 million would go to Rachel Carson Elementary School, $2.3 million to Brooke Grove Elementary and $2.1 million to Gaithersburg No. 9 Elementary. Besides the school construction, Montgomery County projects include $1.3 million for rental housing and $409,000 for the community college in Germantown.
Howard County would get $2.6 million for construction of Southeastern Elementary School, $1.2 million for Elkridge Elementary and $1.5 million for the Mullinix Farm hazardous substance cleanup.
Anne Arundel spending would include $8.9 million for a new housing unit at the Maryland House of Correction, $7 million to begin work on a second phase of prison expansion, $2.2 million for a multipurpose building at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women and $1.3 million for improvements at the humanities building at the community college.
Among Charles County projects would be $4.7 million for Westlake High School and $500,000 for a mental health facility in Nanjemoy.