Gary says he'd likely join suit to stop city school aid Arundel chief opposes $254 million for Baltimore


County Executive John G. Gary told Anne Arundel legislators last night that he would almost certainly join Montgomery County in a future lawsuit to block Gov. Parris N. Glendening from sending $254 million to Baltimore schools.

"We may very well enter the suit if it goes forward," the Republican executive told Anne Arundel's state and county elected leadership during his annual legislative dinner. "But not for the reasons you might think."

Gary, a Republican known for supporting Baltimore causes during 12 years in the House of Delegates, said the consent decree resolving a legal fight between Baltimore and the state over school funding and management should have been decided in the General Assembly, not in Baltimore Circuit Court.

In what amounted to a call to arms, Gary warned Anne Arundel's 13-member House delegation and four of the county's five state Senators who attended the dinner at Loews Annapolis Hotel that they should brace for a fight.

"You as legislators should not allow the judiciary to take away your powers," said Gary, after outlining the county's slim agenda for the General Assembly session that starts next month. "And that's exactly what they're going to do. We're going to slow this down in court so you can take action. You can't just let this slide."

Along with other county executives around the state, Gary is concerned that his jurisdiction's share of state education funding will shrink substantially if Baltimore receives the settlement money, which is to be paid over five years. Anne Arundel received $128.9 million from the state this year for public education.

Montgomery County has asked the Court of Appeals to void the settlement. Frederick County has said it would join a lawsuit if that court did not rule in Montgomery's favor.

Most other county leaders are waiting to see how the Montgomery request turns out.

Gary's statement last night was the strongest indication yet that he would jump into what could be a protracted legal fray, pitting some of Maryland's largest counties against the governor for more education money.

Glendening is also planning to introduce legislation that would cut state income taxes by 10 percent. That plan, which would reduce state revenue by $440 million, further frightens county leaders. "I can't think of a more difficult time trying to deal with a tax reduction," said Gary, who prides himself on his fiscal skills. "It's going to take a lot of work to make those numbers make sense."

Pub Date: 12/19/96

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