Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening yesterday announced more than $100 million for new construction projects in the Washington suburbs as he continued to show his largess with the state's overflowing tax revenue.
Much of the money would go to pay for new schools, jails and parks in the region. In addition to funding for those local projects, Glendening (D) said the University of Maryland at College Park and Bowie State University would receive $111 million for new buildings. The bounty was all part of the governor's $1.3 billion capital budget announced in Annapolis.
The budget includes $5 million for the redevelopment of downtown Silver Spring, the final installment of the $20 million pledged by Glendening; the state's final payment--$7.7 million--for Montgomery County's 900-bed detention center; $2 million for the restoration of Glen Echo Park; $2 million for Gaithersburg revitalization; and $1 million for the Bowie Civic Auditorium.
"We're breaking records and making extraordinary investments," Glendening said. "The investments are literally all over the state."
The capital budget announced yesterday is nearly double what Glendening proposed in 1995, his first year in office.
The state is reaping record amounts of tax revenue as a result of the booming economy. For the first time, Glendening said, more money for capital projects is coming from tax revenue than from state borrowing.
The governor concentrated most of the spending on schools and colleges and for environmental projects, including money to improve sewage treatment plants in Prince George's, Montgomery and Anne Arundel counties.
While he is showering money on popular projects like schools, there is little for economic development. Only about 10 percent of the budget is devoted to job-creation initiatives, such as loan funds for new businesses.
Glendening said previous government policy encouraged sprawling development by providing money for the infrastructure it depended on. With this budget, he said, he would be doing just the opposite. All of the projects fit into his plan to contain sprawl and concentrate development in existing communities, Glendening said.
Local officials weren't complaining. Montgomery County received just about all it asked for, said County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D).
"Traditionally, we've done well in the capital budget under the governor, and it looks like this year is no exception to that," he said. "We've got to come up with new projects. I learned early on if you don't ask for something, you can't get it."
The budget doesn't include funding for the Strathmore Hall performing arts center, but Duncan said the county's request went in late. He said he was hopeful Glendening would provide $1 million in planning funds for the center as part of a supplemental budget the governor will present later in the General Assembly session.
Administration officials indicated they did not expect a problem meeting the request.
Most of the money the counties receive for school construction funding will be decided at a future meeting of the Board of Public Works in Annapolis. The approval of the three-member board--the governor, state comptroller and state treasurer--is required for many state projects. The board will hear from county officials from across the state who are seeking money for their schools.
Glendening's capital budget includes money for many school renovation and construction projects in Montgomery County, including Wheaton High School, Northwest Elementary School, Walter Johnson High School, Herbert Hoover Middle School, Eastern Middle School, Northwest High School, Rock Creek Valley Elementary School and Wood Acres Elementary School.
In Prince George's, schools receiving funding include Hill Road Middle School/Benjamin Davis Elementary School, Carmody Hills Elementary School, Fairmont Heights/Chapel Oaks Elementary School, Perrywood Elementary School, Northwest High School and Hil-Mar Elementary School.
Glendening said a number of projects not included in the capital budget will have to wait until he submits a supplemental budget in March. Like other governors, Glendening uses the later budget to fund the wish lists of lawmakers whose votes he may need for passage of his legislative package.
He said he expected to need to use the leverage to get approval of his plan to require prevailing union wages on school construction projects and for a revision of the state building code to encourage revitalization of existing buildings.
"After our project goes through, there will be other projects" added to supplement budgets, he said.
He noted that some county officials oppose his efforts on prevailing union wages and are wary of his efforts to change the building codes. If they want to share in the state's wealth, Glendening said he expected more of a "partnership" with county officials.
Last year, the Maryland Association of Counties opposed proposals to require prevailing union wages for school projects, saying it would increase construction costs. The organization has not taken a position on the legislation this year and has not decided whether it will formally oppose changes to the building code, said the association's executive director, David Bliden.
As for Glendening's plan to use later budget requests as leverage, Bliden said, the strategy is "part of the governor's toolbox. Why be governor if you can't use your tools?"
CAPTION: Gov. Parris N. Glendening enjoys himself during a 1998 visit to Glen Echo Park. The park would get $2 million for restorations from the governor's capital budget.