Proposed federal budget has millions for Maryland; Transportation, research, employees would benefit


WASHINGTON -- President Clinton's budget proposal for 2000 promises more money for Maryland's roads, historic sites, port projects and high-cost research facilities, plus a sweetened paycheck for the state's roughly 130,000 federal employees.

"There's a smattering of something for everyone," said Rep. Constance A. Morella, a Montgomery County Republican.

The president proposed a 4.4 percent increase in pay for federal employees next year -- a jump from the 3.1 percent raise Clinton proposed last year and the 3.6 percent they actually received.

Clinton proposed the same 4.4 percent pay increase for military employees.

Although the Republican-controlled House has the sole formal authority to draft spending bills, the president's annual budget proposals typically serve as the framework over which the two parties negotiate.

For Maryland, many of the big-ticket items in the president's proposed federal budget would pay for construction at federally funded research agencies.

The administration's plan calls for $56 million for the Food and Drug Administration to consolidate several of its Washington-area centers at one site in Montgomery County.

The proposal offers $13 million to upgrade a facility at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center.

Clinton's budget would also provide an additional $95 million for the next-to-last payment toward a five-wing research complex at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, and $63 million for renovations at Social Security Administration buildings in Baltimore and Woodlawn.

Two other federal agencies that subsidize research at Maryland's major universities would also receive increases: The Virginia-based National Science Foundation would gain 7 percent, to $3.9 billion; and the National Institutes of Health, in Bethesda, would receive 2 percent, to $15.9 billion.

The budget would make good on previously promised funds for transportation programs that would benefit Maryland and specific projects approved by Congress last year as part of a six-year transportation package.

In all, the state would receive $584 million in highway and mass-transit spending, a figure that includes $7.6 million for Route 220 in Western Maryland; $20 million for new buses and bus depots; $1 million for a new Washington Metrorail station in Largo, near the Redskins stadium; and $8 million to begin double-tracking the Baltimore light rail system, so its trains can go in both directions at once; and $11 million in airport improvement grants.

The White House proposed $2 million for the federal government to buy more land near the Civil War battlefield of Antietam and $1.5 million for property near the Monocacy battlefield.

There would be $1.5 million for more land for the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, $28 million for the state's share of clean water and safe water funds, and $800,000 to buy land along the C&O; Canal to help restore it as a recreational area.

The administration proposed a $17 million subsidy for residents of the District of Columbia who enroll at a public college in Maryland or Virginia to cover the difference between the cost of in-state and out-of-state tuition charges.

Under this proposal, intended to make Washington a more attractive place to live, a district resident would have paid $4,700 in undergraduate tuition this year at the University of Maryland, instead of the more than $11,000 tuition tab faced by students from out of state.

And Clinton offers $135 million toward the $2 billion estimated cost of rebuilding the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. The federally owned bridge, which spans the Potomac River between Prince George's County and Alexandria, Va., is ultimately to receive $900 million in federal funds.

Pub Date: 2/02/99

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