Sustainable increases to education funding, improving state roads and more money to treat mental illness and addiction are the Harford County executive’s priorities ahead of the start of the 2020 legislative session.
“Each new session of the Maryland General Assembly brings opportunities to advocate for the citizens we serve," County Excecutive Barry Glassman said in a release issued ahead of lawmakers convening in Annapolis Wednesday for the start of the 90-day session.
“As a state legislator for 16 years, and now as county executive, I look forward to working with the legislature to advance my priorities for Harford County and the state," he said.
How to pay for the Kirwan Commission’s recommended increases in state education funding is expected to be at the forefront of this year’s session.
Glassman, who served on Kirwan's funding formula workgroup, said he will advocate for "a robust level of public education funding without unduly burdening county budgets or slighting other essential local services."
The executive also said he would support the Harford school board's request for a $30.7 million limited renovation of Joppatowne HIgh School and roof replacements at Hickory Elementary and Bel Air MIddle schools.
The county’s share of these projects in fiscal year 2021 totals $16.7 million and the state’s share is $13.9 million, in accordance with state funding formulas.
Regarding traffic congestion and safety on the roads, Harford County is renewing its requests for:
- A second left turn lane onto Route 24 from the U.S. Route 1 Bel Air Bypass.
- A third northbound lane on Route 24 from the existing three-lane section south of Singer Road to north of Plumtree Road.
- A second left turn lane from northbound Route 543 onto southbound I-95, with a receiving lane on the I-95 southbound ramp.
- Improvements to the Route 22 corridor from Harford Community College to Route 155, including intersection improvements from Route 136 west to Route 155 east.
- A roundabout at Route 23 and Grafton Shop Road, the site of numerous motor vehicle accidents.
Health Department funding
Glassman also said he would work with the Maryland Association of Counties to seek increased state funding for local health departments.
He noted local health departments are the only state agencies whose funding has not been restored since the Great Recession, despite a greater need for mental health and substance abuse treatment during the midst of the opioid epidemic.
Ma & Pa Trail
Another local priority is a $1 million request to connect two separate sections of the Ma & Pa Trail. Once completed, the pedestrian and bicycle trail would offer a 7-mile route between Fallston and Forest Hill by way of downtown Bel Air.