Budget Part 1: Education and Workforce

Dear Resident,

The Council has completed next year’s budget. In this and a few emails to come, I’m going to share details about some key initiatives. I’m excited to report on our progress.

Fiscal policy

Storm clouds of economic recession are gathering again. Inflation and market turmoil are already impacting our residents’ finances and could soon do the same for the County.

That’s why the Council took some corrective action on fiscal policy — rejecting the County Executive’s proposal to tap into the retiree benefits fund for $20 million in current spending, in violation of County policy. We put that money back so it will be there when we need it in the future.

Unlike the Executive’s budget at the start of the pandemic, this one had no property tax increase for us to un-do. Tax rates remain the same.

Now for education and workforce.

Our children are experiencing significant impacts from COVID, whether learning loss or mental health, and it is going to take concerted effort to recover. The Council approved $2.9 billion for MCPS next year, a 5% increase in our county contribution.

We also added wellness centers to all of the County’s high schools, where we’ll provide mental and physical health services as well as violence prevention teams.

I am thrilled to share that the Council approved an exciting new initiative at the Universities at Shady Grove, the READY Institute. The Ready Institute will bring together leading companies with partners from all of our education institutions to develop career pathways.

This is a critical piece that we have been missing. It will look to connect the dots in finding opportunity pathways through all of the institutions and employers that we have in Montgomery County and making sure that all students have the ability to navigate them. Are data scientist jobs growing? Do we need more health workers? Bio manufacturing? Here’s how you can get on that path.

I am very grateful for the partnership of Education Chair Craig Rice and USG Executive Director Dr. Khademian for joining me in bringing this vision into a reality. In January of 2019, when I became chair of the Economic Development Committee, Craig Rice joined me to convene a joint committee about “Talent Pipelines.” How can we better fuel the growth of our local companies by meeting their hiring needs? How can we help all of our kids, regardless of zipcode, see the jobs of the future here and how they can move through those open doors?

The outcome is this new initiative, which represents the first time that Montgomery County has directly funded operational programs at the Universities at Shady Grove. It’s an exciting new step in our economic development strategy.

Next up, housing.

As always, I welcome your feedback, councilmember.riemer@montgomerycountymd.gov

Hans Riemer