By Sen. Roy Dyson

[ Senator Dyson's Newletter ]

In my last column I talked about the need for additional school construction funding in Calvert County and urged Governor Glendening to approve it. Before the ink was dry on that column Governor Glendening at the formal dedication of the high school here in Southern Maryland said he was going to support the extra monies for Calvert 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 $1.3 million for Dowell Elementary was added, along with approval to go ahead with the planning for the new Southeast Middle School Elementary schools. The total construction monies from the state for the fiscal year beginning in July will now be more than $4.4 million.

The county fared well overall in the new budget, with an 8.2 percent increase in direct aid or shared revenues. This boils down to $519 per capita, up from this year's $496 per capita. That aid includes things like public schools, libraries, community colleges, health and public safety and transportation. For instance, aid to education increased 9.1 percent to more than $32 million.

Many 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 $170,000 in waterway improvements. They include engineering of jetties and breakwater at Breezy Point Marina, boat ramp lease at Chesapeake Beach and bulkhead repairs at Chesapeake Beach and the Lore Oyster House in Solomons. Also, as previously reported, bond bills were approved for Calvert County Historical Society for $300,000, Calvert Marine Museum for $75,000 and United Way of Calvert County for $100,000.

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 St. Mary's County for a light rail corridor. I believe this will ultimately relieve some of the commuter congestion on Routes 2/4 in Calvert County. This bill is exactly what I wanted and am most pleased that the governor intends to sign it.

The bill signings on Thursday are at 2 p.m. on May 21 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 ]