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Press Releases - County Council

Councilmember Glass’ statement on the County’s operating and capital budget agreement

For Immediate Release: Thursday, May 16, 2019

ROCKVILLE, Md., May 16, 2019—Montgomery County Councilmember Evan Glass made the following remarks today after the Council reached agreement on the County’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Operating Budget, the FY20 Capital Budget and amendments to the FY19-24 Capital Improvements Program. The budgets will be formally adopted by the Council on May 23.

The complete text of Councilmember Glass’ remarks:

Thank you, Madame President, for leading the Council through this budget cycle and for engaging us in a thoughtful process, that at its heart, has been all about equity.

Determining the County’s $5.8 billion operating budget has been an exercise in fiscal discipline. It’s also been an opportunity to put our dollars where our hearts are. I’m proud that members of this Council collaborated to make more services whole for some of our most vulnerable residents.

While going through my first budget cycle as a Councilmember, I kept in mind the 1.1 million constituents who contribute to this budget, and who depend on County services and programs. Unfortunately, in some parts of our County, access to these programs are hindered because of limited transportation options. That’s an equity issue.

One of the leading indicators of social mobility is access to reliable transportation. That’s why one of my top priorities during this budget cycle was to ensure that young people have expanded and free access to Ride On and Metrobus services.

Every student should have the opportunity to succeed, regardless of which school they attend or their household wealth. There’s no reason a student should be walking in the cold or rain because they couldn’t afford bus fare. No student should ever miss out on a job or internship because they didn’t have a reliable way of getting home.

I fought to expand the Kids Ride Free Program to all hours for all Montgomery County youth under the age of 18. And I’m appreciative that this initiative received strong support by my colleagues. Expanding the Kids Ride Free Program is the equitable thing to do, and it’s a smart way for us to foster a culture of transit ridership and environmental stewardship that will continue through adulthood.

In that same vein, I fought to restore bus service for our County’s most heavily used bus routes: Ride On bus routes 49, 54, 55 and 57. These routes serve many Upcounty residents who are less likely to own vehicles and already have few transit options.

Earlier this week, a Montgomery College student who depends on the 55, 57 and 59 buses wrote the council asking to reverse these cuts in bus service. This student, Fernando, wrote, “If there is a cut, it would mean I have to look for different methods of transportation, increase time to get different buses, and less sleep time. Please do not allow that to happen to me and many other working-class students that rely on those routes.”

Again, I thank my colleagues for supporting the restoration of these routes, and I especially thank Councilmember Riemer who also advocated for these bus services. I just wish we could have restored funding to the other three routes that will see service reductions in the upcoming fiscal year.

And, as I said during a Transportation and Environment meeting, it’s time for us to take a look at our public bus system and assess if we should redraw our routes, given the huge changes in population since they were last drawn.

Beyond equity, these initiatives have something else in common: environmental stewardship.

I’m glad to have supported the Council’s initiative to hire a consultant who can help us move the Climate Mobilization Plan forward. I believe that this will help put the County on a clear path towards fighting climate change.

We are all experiencing the adverse effects of global warming, and to make the situation even worse, we know that environmental justice issues disproportionately impact vulnerable and poor communities. Funding for this climate change initiative will help us ensure that we are doing our part in Montgomery County so that this world is left brighter and better for all those that will come after us.

Speaking of our future, earlier this week, I was glad we fully funded Montgomery County Public Schools and Montgomery College. An investment in our County’s young minds is an investment worth making.

As the Council’s Lead for Homelessness and Vulnerable Communities, I worked with my colleagues on the Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee as well as Councilmember Hucker to push for additional funding that is needed at Progress Place, one of our county’s heavily used shelters, to ensure the safety of clients, staff and the community.

Like many of my colleagues, I was moved by the passionate statements from advocates who represent communities with developmental differences, and I am glad to see the restoration of funding for the developmental disabilities service providers. I commend HHS Committee Chair Councilmember Albornoz for leading these discussions, and I look forward to working with him and the workgroup that will follow to improve our processes and nonprofit business models.

Finally, as a former nonprofit executive, I understand the increasing needs and demands on our nonprofit sector and I know the 3 percent cost of living increase we are providing to our nonprofit contracts is long overdue and necessary.

In summary, there is still a lot of work to make our County a more fair and equitable jurisdiction, but I believe this budget moves us forward, is fiscally sustainable, and puts vulnerable communities first.

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Release ID: 19-174
Media Contact: Valeria Carranza 240-777-7966