By Sen. Roy Dyson

[ Senator Dyson's Newletter ]

In my last column I talked about the need for additional school construction funding in St. Mary's County and urged Governor Glendening to approve it. Before the ink was dry on that column Governor Glendening at the formal dedication of the rejuvenated Great Mills High School said he was going to support the extra monies and the Board of Public Works has since approved it.

Even before that announcement our area stood to receive a significant amount of school construction funding in the next fiscal year. But with the governor's announcement an additional $535,000 for the Town Creek Elementary heating and air conditioning system was added, along with approvals to go ahead with the design for additions and renovations to Leonardtown High, Margaret Brent Middle, and Banneker Elementary schools. The total construction monies from the state for the fiscal year beginning in July will now be more than $7 million.

The county fared well overall in the new budget, with a 5.7 percent increase in direct aid or shared revenues. This boils down to $574 per capita, up from this years $548 per capita. That aid includes things like public schools, libraries, community colleges, health and public safety and transportation. For instance, the aid to education increased6.2 percent to more than $40 million.

Of course other counties also did well because of the healthy state surplus. We managed to increase funding to the counties while at the same time returning part of the surplus in the form of tax cuts.

The budget passed by the Maryland General Assembly also includes $2million for land acquisition along the Patuxent River as part of the Greenway project, $300,000 for planning the expansion of the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center and more than $350,000 to the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home.

While we were busy passing the budget we also were busy passing 901 of the 2,266 bills introduced in the Senate and House. The governor has not yet finalized all of his bill signings so we don't yet know how many of them he'll veto. The legislature will have a chance to override those vetoes next January.

This week on Thursday, May 21st the final bill signing ceremony is scheduled. On the signing list are my Senate Bill 88 -- the Animal Friendly License Plate. This bill was amended in the House of Delegates. I hope in future years to get it more into the form sought by the bill's supporters. But in the meantime everyone agrees this bill is a start towards the goal of raising money for spay/neuter programs to curb animal overpopulation.

The governor also has on his bill signing list my SB 256, which orders the Maryland Department of Transportation, Mass Transit Administration to do a study of the feasibility of using the railroad right of way through the county for a light rail corridor. This is exactly what I wanted and am most pleased that the governor intends to sign this bill.

The bill signings on Thursday, May 21 are at 2 p.m. in the governor's hearing room on the second floor of the State House in Annapolis. Everyone involved in helping me with these bills is urged to be with me for the bill signings. For more information contact the Great Mills district office at 301-994-2826.

[ Senator Dyson's Newletter ]