As a member of the House of Delegates 29 years ago, I sponsored legislation (HB 697), which was enacted, that strengthened the state maintenance of effort law. The Evening Sun praised the legislation and said it "put teeth" in the education funding law. I have long supported the spirit of the law that local governments should use state dollars to supplement, not supplant, county funding. I also believe that there should be some flexibility in the law so that during difficult economic times, when the budgets of every other agency of local government are being slashed, counties that exceeded the maintenance of effort requirement in flush economic times should be given some allowance during economic downturns.
During my first term as county executive, I kept my campaign promise to fund negotiated pay raises for county teachers and was endorsed for reelection in 2010 by the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County.
While serving as county executive during a bone-crushing recession, I could not in good conscience continue to fund raises for school employees when the most that could be done for other county workers was to end their furloughs. To lead by example, I returned about $18,000 out of my own salary to the county treasury.
From 2006 to 2012, the Board of Education budget increased 17 percent while all other county agencies' budgets in the aggregate decreased 7 percent. The county has a responsibility to adequately fund all agencies of county government to ensure that the quality of all governmental services is maintained and that tax dollars are not diverted away from police, fire, health, libraries, parks, recreation and senior centers and other priorities.
As county executive, I budgeted millions of dollars to enhance public education that were not in the school board budget. These included resources for school resource officers and school crossing guards in the Police Department budget, school nurses and flu mist vaccinations in the Health Department budget, after-school programs in the Community Grants budget and high school turf fields in the Recreation and Parks budget. It should be noted that the share of the county budget devoted to public education has grown from 40 to 50 percent over the past twenty years, and that none of these programs is included in that percentage.
I also budgeted funds to supplement the stipends of National Board Certified teachers and In create a parenting program for the parents of middle school children at Anne Arundel Community College.