By Sen. Roy Dyson

[ Senator Dyson's Newletter ]

April 19, 1996

The 1996 Maryland General Assembly, while not winning any accolades for some of
its decisions, was not a bad one financially for the Southern Maryland counties. Both
St. Mary's and Calvert counties did better than the statewide average for state aid to
local governments.

While the budget for the next fiscal year shows a four-percent statewide increase in
state aid, Calvert is getting a 7.8-percent increase to $38,381,000 and St. Mary's is
getting a five-percent increase to $48,974,000. Statewide, 80 percent of the state aid
to local governments goes to schools. The rest goes to libraries, local health and
general government.

In Calvert, the increase in state aid to primary and secondary education was 9.8
percent and 1.3 percent to community colleges.

In St. Mary's the increase in State aid to primary and secondary education is 7.3
percent and 1.3 percent for community colleges.

In St. Mary's capital project approvals include the reconstruction of Great Mills High
School, relocatable classrooms at Chopticon H.S. and Piney Point Elementary and
pre-K at Oakville Elementary. Also $454,000 was approved for renovating the
county jail, $1.2 million as the state's share of the cleanup of the Southern Maryland
Wood Treating Superfund Site, and $220,00 for the Pine Hill Run Sewage
Treatment Plant. And of course there's money in the Department of Natural
Resources Open Space Fund for purchase of Myrtle Point.

In Calvert, capital project moneys were appropriated for construction of St. Leonard
Elementary School, renovation of Mt. Harmony School and construction of academic
buildings at the community college. Also $159,288 was granted to the Abused
Person's Shelter, $400,000 for the Dares Beach Sewerage System, and $150,000
for the breakwater on Solomon's Island.

I believe, with the additional population expected to come into our area in the next
few years, and with it the economic development benefit and increased state taxes,
that more moneys should have been granted to our area The percent increases
enumerated above should have been higher. We are going to continue to work to get
that message across and hopefully more money will be forthcoming next year

Welfare reform

There hasn't been a lot of publicity on it, but the legislature this year passed one of the
most sweeping welfare reform packages in the country Maryland has become the
first state to implement what is likely to be a federal mandate to the states in the
future. We are now one Step ahead on switching the emphasis from. dependency to
independence and from welfare to jobs. According to the report issued by the staff of
the Department of Fiscal Services, the Welfare Innovation Act of 1996 does the

- Repeals the current AFDC program and replaces it with temporary cash assistance grants
and one-time only welfare avoidance grants;

- Contingent upon federal legislation, temporary cash assistance payments are limited to 60
months, and to 24 months if the recipient is not participating in a work activity.

- Repeals the 1OO hour work rule or employment history requirement as a condition of
eligibility and provides that certain income of a step-parent be disregarded when
determining AFDC eligibility of a child;

- Provides post-welfare benefits to certain organizations for the purpose of assisting
individuals who lose cash assistance eligibility due to noncompliance; and

- Requires employers to report new hires to the Department of Labor Licensing and

Early retirement

Our office is getting a lot of calls regarding Senate Bill 1 which allows early retirement
for state employees. Although some county and board of education personnel are
under the state retirement system, this bill does not affect them, but only state
employees. It also doesn't cover all state employees. If you still do not know whether
the bill applies to you or not, please call either of our offices and we'll make
arrangements for a copy of the bill to be sent to you. The Annapolis number is
1-800-492-7122, extension 3673. The Great Mills office is 301-994-2826

[ Senator Dyson's Newletter ]