School construction takes a back seat in new capital budget plan

Feb. 3, 2004, midnight | By Robin Hernandez | 20 years ago

This is not original reporting. All information has been compiled from the Silver Spring Gazette article "Capital budget boosts higher education, skimps on schools," by Steven T. Dennis.

School construction took a back seat in Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s $847 million capital budget, while secondary schools and plans for sewers gained real boosts.

In the budget Ehrlich (R) set aside $101.6 million for school construction, which is less than previous years. In 2003, 40 percent of Ehrlich's $989 million capital budget was proposed for elementary, secondary, and high education school construction projects.

Higher education received a $264 million budget and a $98 million budget was allotted for upgrading sewage treatment plants. Ehrlich plans to pay for the upgrades with a new $30-per-household annual flush tax.

Montgomery County had hoped to receive $60 million this year as part of a six-year, $956 billion upgrade plan, however estimates show that the County only expects to receive about $20 million from the state.

County Councilman Michael L. Subin (D-At Large) of Gaithersburg expressed his frustration with Ehrlich, saying he has demonstrated "'extraordinary hypocrisy' for bragging about school construction projects while cutting the budget for school construction." House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Dist. 30) of Annapolis proposed a plan that would fund school construction with more than $40 million a year by closing a loophole that allows some companies to avoid paying real estate transfer taxes when they sell property, however Ehrlich declined to comment on the plan.

In Montgomery County, projects include $8.1 million for a new student's services and cultural arts center at Montgomery College's Takoma Park campus, $5.5 million to complete a new biotech facility at the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute in Shady Grove, $2 million for Strathmore Hall coast overruns and $1.5 million for Rockville Town Center.

Other projects include, but are not limited to:
- $3 million for Montgomery County Detention Center for renovation
- $2 million for Columbia Union College learning pavilion and library
- $2 million for Quince Orchard Middle School #2
- $1 million for Oak View Elementary School
- $300,000 for Chelsea School
- $ 200,000 Whitman Walker Clinic

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