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Council gets its turn to comment on budget

  • Published in Local

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ROCKVILLE – Last week the County Council heard from the residents. Now it has its chance to craft a budget.

After County Executive Ike Leggett released his $5.4 billion proposed budget in March, the Council took comments from the community in a series of public hearings before it deliberates during the next month or so to craft a budget.

Unlike last year in Leggett’s proposed budget, this fiscal year’s does not contain any considerable tax increase, and Council President Roger Berliner (D-1) said a tax increase over the County charter limit is not on the table this year.

Many of the people who showed up last week to testify asked the County to fund their particular interests, whether they are Montgomery College or one of the County’s nonprofit partners such as Manna Food Center.

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State’s Congressmen and Senators meet with Bay advocates

  • Published in State

CAPITOL HILL – An annual gathering of clean water advocates took on more urgency this year in the wake of President Donald Trump’s budget, which proposes deep cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and eliminates entirely federal funding for Chesapeake Bay restoration.

The Choose Clean Water Coalition held a reception April 5 to bring together representatives from its 225 member organizations and elected representatives in Congress to discuss the negative impacts of Trump’s proposal to eliminate $73 million in funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program, which funds local restoration efforts in Maryland, D.C., Virginia and Pennsylvania. In addition to a reception, the group facilitated 36 individual meetings between water groups and members of Congress.

“This gathering could not happen at a more important critical moment given the budget that came down,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) “This is an hour, a moment of great need for this coalition and with your help, we will continue to make progress (on improving the Bay).”

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Rebuilding the Democratic Party

Rep. John SarbanesRep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.)  COURTESY PHOTO  It seems almost unimaginable that the Republican Party can be in control of both chambers of Congress as well as the White House especially when you consider that registered Democrats significantly outnumber registered Republicans. It becomes a good deal less unimaginable when you factor in the impact of the gerrymandering of our district lines, the widespread voter suppression efforts by Republican state governments and the gullibility of the American voter.

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Pondering straight answers during Easter

MC DC - Aging Spicer Before His   Time

 

From the time I was very young, I have often pondered the question: What is it all about?
Since I am made up of the atoms from an exploding star, am I merely nothing more than the Universe struggling to make sense of itself? Are all of us extensions of the vastness of creation experiencing itself consciously?
Why is there anything?
These thoughts often occur to me before my morning coffee and fade away into the shallowness of my daily existence before I take them on again each night before I fall asleep.

 

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NIH faces massive cuts under Trump budget

  • Published in News

BETHESDA -- Under President Trump’s recent budget proposal, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is set to receive a major cut to its annual budget.

The proposal reduces the $31.7 billion NIH budget by approximately 18 percent. It also calls for the reorganization and streamlining of the various institutes to reduce overhead costs and the elimination of the Fogarty International Center.

“It’s definitely a distressing proposal, these are devastating cuts and a blow to the country," said Jamie Raskin (D), who represents Maryland's 8th Congressional District, which includes NIH as well as other federal research agencies including the Food and Drug Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“Science is an overall social project, and when you knock out the basic pillars, it devastates the entire enterprise,” he added.

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Promises, promises and the Dionne Warwick lament

Trump face

Oh, promises, their kind of promises, can just destroy a life
Oh, promises, those kind of promises, take all the joy from life
– by Burt Bacharach and Hal David

Elections, as we have all recently learned, have consequences. No one should be surprised that promises made by the elected candidate during the campaign run the risk of being implemented after the winner takes office.

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The missing Russian and the POTUS check

spicerI found a missing Russian in Washington D.C. yesterday.
He’s a funny guy and an easy guy to get along with overall. Boris Epshteyn, an assistant to the president, a friend of President Trump’s son and a well-known surrogate on the television circuit for this administration has gone walk about.
Last week the administration quietly acknowledged Boris has left to “pursue other interests in the administration,” according to Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
“Paulie, you won’t see him around no more,” Clemenza warned us as he made spaghetti sauce and the Corleones went to the mattresses. Sorry. Strong sense of déjà vu.

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Gaithersburg moves ahead on budget amid funding fears

  • Published in Local

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GAITHERSBURG – Council member Michael A. Sesma, a longtime member of an advocacy group representing municipalities across the country, shared concerns about proposed federal budget cuts at a March 20 meeting that were first expressed at the National League of Cities’ Congressional Cities Conference in Washington last week.

Sesma noted that in the past, the NLC had been granted meetings with members of incoming presidential administrations, including cabinet secretaries, but that its only audience thus far with a member of the Trump administration was a presentation by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, who as Oklahoma attorney general sued the agency he now leads on multiple occasions.

“It was an interesting presentation,” Sesma said. Sesma added that President Donald J. Trump's proposed wide-reaching cuts in the federal budget had alarmed many NLC members.

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Leggett brings in the county budget

  • Published in Local

Leggett 20091001 104316County Executive Ike Leggett

ROCKVILLE –, County Executive Ike Leggett met with the County Council to discuss his new proposed budget last week.

Unlike last year, this year Leggett does not propose any increase in property taxes above the charter limit in his $5.4 billion operating budget. Per usual, about half of the County’s proposed budget will go toward education with $2.5 billion for Montgomery County Public Schools and $309 million for Montgomery College.

Leggett’s proposed budget is a 2.7 percent increase from last year and does not dramatically increase funding for any County agency. In this year’s budget Leggett proposed a 2.3 percent increase to MCPS or $25 million additional to the state-mandated Maintenance of Effort.

“Given that, along with continued uncertainty about the economic recovery and State and federal actions, I am limiting any new programs or significant program expansions to those that clearly achieve our shared priorities and best serve County residents,” Leggett said.

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