What Federal Budget Means To Maryland

by Benjamin L. Cardin
U.S. Congressman, 3rd District
     This is a new era of federal budgeting because, for the first time in a generation, we have no deficits. Instead, we have surpluses, and it’s important that we manage these in a prudent way that addresses our most important priorities.
     President Clinton’s budget does that by allocating 62 percent of the surplus--$2.8 trillion over 15 years--to securing the solvency of Social Security for when the baby boom generation retires. He has also proposed reserving 15 percent of the surplus for Medicare, ensuring the trust fund is secure for at least another 20 years.
     For the first time, this budget also addresses the long-term care needs of the elderly. By 2050 the average life expectancy will be 82, with many seniors needing help with everyday activities such as cooking, dressing and visiting their doctor. This budget takes a very important step in the right direction by providing seniors and their families with a $1,000 tax credit to help with long-term care costs.
     The budget also calls for 42,000 new Head Start slots, additional funds to hold states more accountable for student performance, and money to help hire and train l00,000 new teachers For Maryland, this translates into 510 new teachers.
     Many of Maryland’s most important priorities were addressed in this budget proposal, such as the $8 million allocated so that light rail can be double-tracked, allowing trains to run in both directions at the same time. In addition, $200 million has been proposed to improve Amtrak’s Northeast corridor between Washington and Boston so that it can provide high-speed rail service.
     Another important budget item for Maryland is funding to dredge the harbor. Dredging is critical to maintaining the viability of the Port of Baltimore, and the President has included $9.6 million for the Brewerton Channel that connects the Port to the channels of the C&D Canal. Also included is $5.8 million to straighten the Tolchester Channel, which is part of the approach to the C&D Canal.
     On the environmental front, the budget contains significant funds so that Maryland can make low-interest loans to communities to build wastewater treatment facilities and to help local water systems comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act.

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This story was published on Mar. 3, 1999.