October 13, 2018
Politics & Opinion
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The Maryland General Assembly

Derek Fink
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January 23, 2018

The holidays are over and the kids are back in school. Mid-January means one thing in Annapolis: the start of the Maryland General Assembly session. Governor Larry Hogan has shown that he and his administration are dedicated to improving Maryland’s future by improving its education system, infrastructure and public safety without increasing taxes or our debt. The $17.7 billion budget continues to responsibly fund all necessary state-funded programs and agencies without raiding special funds or raising taxes on Maryland’s citizens. One of the main initiatives in the governor’s budget this year is again his historic funding of K-12 education. The Hogan administration’s budget, which will be sent to the House and Senate for approval, includes a $6.5 billion state investment in Maryland’s public schools and full funding of all state aid programs. School construction projects total $365 million, which is the largest investment in school construction in over a decade.

Time and time again, my constituents talk about problems with our roads. Our Department of Public Works does a fantastic job of trying to keep Anne Arundel County roads in the best condition possible. Highway User Revenue funds come from the motor vehicle fuel tax, motor vehicle registration fees, a share of the motor vehicle titling tax, and a share of the corporate income tax. The state shares these funds with counties and municipalities to assist in fixing local roads. Even though these funds were drastically cut by the O’Malley administration, the Hogan administration has been doing its best to reinvest those funds into our local communities.

In the Hogan administration’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget proposal, $178.1 million is being sent back to the counties and municipalities in the form of highway user revenues. While I would prefer to see more funding put into local roads in our area, I am happy to see Governor Hogan making an effort to give back as much of the highway user revenues as possible. As we get ready for the annual budgeting process, these numbers will be a crucial part of the equation on how much the county will have to spend on the repair of roads and bridges. Please let your delegates and senators know that you want highway user revenues to go back to the counties and municipalities from where they came.

Throughout my second term on the council, our county has stressed a need for action to combat the heroin and opioid addiction in our communities. Heroin addiction is not limited to the inner city or to poorer neighborhoods of our county. With more than 300 overdoses a year and an average of one fatality per week, we cannot stand by and let our communities be overrun by drug addiction. I am happy to say that Governor Hogan has promised to combat drug addiction and other mental health issues throughout the state, and this year’s budget upholds that promise. To continue aggressively addressing the heroin and opioid epidemic, an additional $13.7 million is provided in combination with nearly $160 million for substance abuse programs.

This budget shows Governor Hogan’s commitment to the people of Maryland. He is funding all necessary programs and agencies without raising taxes and putting even more burden on the citizens. Our county will benefit greatly from the education funding, the increased percentage of highway user revenues, and the governor’s steadfast commitment to battling the drug and mental health problem in our state. From the governor to the county executive to the county council, we all understand the importance of living within our means while continuing to fund fully the agencies and programs that help the state and our county thrive.

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