By Sen. Roy Dyson

[ Senator Dyson's Newletter ]

A couple of weeks ago in this column I talked about my involvement with the Governor's Solid Waste Advisory Committee. I received a lot of comment about the issue. People are most appreciative that I agreed to serve on the task force along with Dan Williams, solid waste director for Calvert County. It gives this advisory committee a Southern Maryland representation.

I mentioned in that previous column that I would pitch the idea of having at least one public hearing here in Southern Maryland on the future of solid waste disposal in Maryland. I am happy to report that the task force has agreed to a hearing here and it will most likely be held in early October. I'll give you that date as soon as it is determined.

We've also received a few good suggestions from the readers of this column, including some information about disposable diapers. I am still most anxious to hear from you with your personal concerns and ideas.

Education: the number one priority

One sure bet in an election year is to hear the candidates saying that education is their number one priority. For incumbents, such as myself, a look at the track records is one way to gauge whether such a statement has a hallow ring to it. I do believe that education is our number one priority. I also believe that the Glendening administration and the Maryland General Assembly in the last budget of the millennium, the Fiscal Year 1999 budget, proved that they are good on their promises.

It hurts me to hear political ads criticizing the legislature and the governor for not doing enough. This is rhetoric which isn't backed up by the facts. Granted we do have a healthy economy which has translated into more revenues for the state. But we have used the bulk of those revenues for increased spending on education and tax relief for you.

As a way of gauging how well we are doing I thought a comparison to four years ago, the last year of the Schaefer administration, might be in order. That year, Fiscal Year 1995, according to Yale Stentzler, director of the Interagency Committee for School Construction, the school construction program for the state was $109.3 million. In that year St. Mary's County received a paltry $63,000 to renovate a science lab in a high school. Calvert received $4.6 million and Charles $5.3 million.

In Fiscal year 1999, St. Mary's County is receiving $7.1 million, Calvert is getting $4.4 million and Charles $7.7 million. The total for the state is $225 million, more than twice what it was four years ago.

Of the two counties in my district the monies for St. Mary's are the most dramatic. Calvert growth has been more consistent while St. Mary's has seen a recent spurt. But the good news for Calvert is that virtually all of the money requested for this current fiscal year was approved by the Board of Public Works.

In supplemental funding approved while the legislature was in session, and after appeals to the Board of Public Works, an additional $1.3 million was approved for Calvert, and $1.4 million for St. Mary's. Charles County received an extra $2.4 million. These additional expenditures show than when the additional revenue estimates came in, the money was allocated for education.

The just released Task Force on Education Funding Equity, Accountability and Partnerships praised the enactment of House Bill 1, the bill which provided a School Accountability Funding for Excellence Program for school systems around the state. This bill provided the school construction funding but also extra monies for students "at risk" of not performing at a high academic area. So the legislature not only is concerned about bricks and mortar but what goes on inside those four walls.

It is essential that we have adequate facilities, not students crowded into temporary classrooms. The initiatives of the governor and the legislature have shown that we do indeed consider education to be the number one priority. That $225 million spent on school construction was the second highest ever in the state of Maryland. And it is the most in the last 25 years. As I said earlier the proof is there in black and white.

[ Senator Dyson's Newletter ]