Thursday, February 18, 2010

Prince George's Tries to Strongarm MoCo for Aid - Again

The Post has reported on yet another attempt by the Prince George’s County statehouse delegation to acquire more state aid at the expense of Montgomery County. Of course, Prince George’s attempted to do this to MoCo just a year ago. A few statistics are in order.

Our sources are the FY 2011 Overview of State Aid to Local Governments, the Tax Year 2008 Income Tax Summary Report, the FY 2009 Sales and Use Tax Report, the Washington Area Boards of Education FY 2010 report and the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2008 American Community Survey.

Per Capita Income Tax Paid to the State, Tax Year 2008
Prince George’s: $600.60
Montgomery: $1,590.35
Note: 2008 population from the Census Bureau used for this calculation.

Per Capita Sales Tax Paid to the State, FY 2009
Prince George’s: $499.57
Montgomery: $538.80
Note: 2008 population from the Census Bureau used for this calculation.

Per Capita State Aid, FY 2011
Prince George’s: $1,305
Montgomery: $807

Per Pupil Direct Aid to Public Schools, FY 2011
Prince George’s: $7,324
Montgomery: $3,796

Percent of Public Schools Budget Paid by the State, FY 2010
Prince George’s: 50.7%
Montgomery: 20.5%

The truth is that Montgomery County, Howard County, Anne Arundel County and the Baltimore suburbs have been carrying Prince George’s County on their backs for years. And Prince George’s has rewarded the rest of the state’s investment with disastrous schools, a scandal-plagued police department, WSSC commissioners who are obsessed with minority contracting and not with repairing broken pipes and the abominable administration of County Executive Jack Johnson. But that is not enough – now they want more state aid. And you know what? They have a good shot at getting it for two reasons.

1. Wayne Curry
The former Prince George’s County Executive is publicly considering a challenge to Governor O’Malley. The Governor is eager to ward off Curry, and if that does not work, he would like to co-opt Curry’s support in Prince George’s County. That explains his remark to the Prince George’s Delegation: “The bottom line is we do want to work with you.” Translation: please don’t hurt me!

2. Political Hardball
Montgomery County’s politicians endorsed O’Malley en masse last fall while many Prince George’s politicians shrewdly withheld their support. Prince George’s Delegate Dereck Davis (D-25), the powerful House Economic Matters Committee Chairman who did not endorse O’Malley, explained his decision this way to MPW:

...I have not endorsed anyone for Governor. Quite candidly, I think it is premature to endorse anyone until after the 2010 legislative session has been completed. Then, and only then, will I be able to make an informed decision about what’s best for the community I represent.
This is a very smart decision by Delegate Davis and a good part of the rest of his delegation. MoCo politicians gave away their support to O’Malley in return for nothing. Prince George’s politicians are using their leverage to extract concessions. Good for them.

The bottom line is that MoCo pays more than its fair share to the state and gets less in return. MoCo is facing a $690 million deficit at the moment, and that was before the blizzards. If the MoCo delegation gives in to Prince George’s attempts to get more aid at their expense, they should not bother to come home after the session. They should instead run for office in Prince George’s County, because after all, that would be their true constituency.