Montgomery County leaders breakdown hopes for 2017 legislative session

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“If we could get the Highway User Revenue restored, Storm Water Management fees paid and full funding for our schools, I think it would be a home run for all of us in the State of Maryland,” said Mayor Bridget Newton, City of Rockville.

Mayor Newton may not be calling the shots in the legislative session, but for the most part, she is on the same page as state senators from Montgomery County, who you will catch in Annapolis today.

Education

“Our state has challenges,” said Senator Cheryl Kagan, District 17. “We’ve slipped in our education standing, [and] we’ve got budgetary challenges.”

Maryland schools continue to fall in national rankings, according to Education Week’s analysis, this time from fourth to fifth.

“Education is the path forward,” said Newton. “It is the greatest equalizer there is.”

MCPS is requesting $119 million from the state to support its construction program this year.

Storm Water Management

As Storm Water Management projects spread throughout the county, many government officials are hoping for help paying the fees.

“We all want to protect the Chesapeake Bay, and we agree that we need to be doing these steps, but these steps are very, very expensive,” said Newton.

Right now, several municipalities are responsible to pay for storm water management.

Mayor Newton believes the county, state and school systems should contribute to coverage as well.  

Transportation

As a county bordering our nation’s capital, a large priority this session is focused on smoothing over transportation.

“Transportation is vital to Maryland’s economic success,” said Kagan. “If people can’t get to work [or] can’t get to their jobs, we lose.”

So, the county’s legislative body is pushing for things like funding for Interstate-270 and the establishment of a Safety Oversight Agency for Metro.

But with a very blue county and a red governor, Senator Kagan is concerned with compromise the year before local elections.

“When we’re all figuring out what’s our next step, I think a lot of people are going to be looking to establish themselves,” said Kagan. “I think it’s going to be more partisan than it’s been, as we start to look towards a reelection year.”

Montgomery County’s official list of priorities for this year’s session can be viewed through this PDF.

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