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While the Maryland General Assembly continues to undertake a slash and burn campaign against businesses and taxpayers, some Senate Democrats have pivoted and focused on passing new burdens on to county government through a drastic expansion of the maintenance of effort requirements:
Expanding on last year’s Maintenance of Effort requirements mandating counties’ levels of funding for K-12 education, Montgomery County senators are seeking to establish similar requirements for county critical services throughout the state. Representatives of county governments think it’s a bad idea. “The bill [SB1055] establishes minimum funding requirements for state grants to counties, within specific funding categories,” Sen. Roger Manno, D-Montgomery, explained in his testimony before the Senate Budget & Taxation Committee on which he serves. Funding categories covered by the bill, what Manno calls “critical services,” include: corrections; fire protection, rescue, and ambulance services; law enforcement, including sheriffs and deputy sheriffs; public libraries; and transportation.
However, that’s not the only issue with this legislation. Once again, legislative Democrats from the suburbs are giving rural legislators and residents cause for concern. Senator E.J. Pipkin (R-Cecil County) has talked fervently about the “War on Rural Maryland” waged by O’Malley and General Assembly leadership. Manno’s legislation is yet another tool that would put all counties, but especially rural counties, at a severe disadvantage. There has been substantial conflict between state and county governments for some time over Maintenance of Effort.
Go back to 2011 when Democrats were kvetching that some counties were not sufficiently meeting their maintenance of effort requirements for education spending despite the fact that counties were in a budget crunch and performed at or better than counties meeting their their requirements. Even in those instances, Maintenance of Effort requirements had little if anything impact on performance of schools. It doesn’t take much imagination to believe that the expansion of these requirements to other “essential services” would not be based on need or performance, but on requiring the county to spend money on these resources regardless of their performance. This isn’t about creating better government; it’s about creating more expensive government while at the same time limiting the ability and authority of counties to budget to meet their county priorities.
Tags: Maintenance of Effort, Roger Manno, spending
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