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Daily Journal (Capital Budget or CIP)

Today we received the county executive’s proposed capital budget (called the CIP). This is a six year, $4 billion budget used for investments in new school buildings, county buildings, transit projects, roads, technology, and so forth—expenses that are not operating expenses (like compensation) but rather assets that we build.

The County Council will review the exec’s proposal intensively for the next two months or so and then final passage will be at the same time as the operating budget, in May.

Needless to say, my office, as well as activists and organizations around the county, are pouring through the details and assessing how various projects have fared. I’ll be commenting on these issues a lot in the coming weeks as we work through the details. This is also my first CIP, as the budget is on a two-year cycle.

One of the undercurrents of debate on this issue is the amount that the county borrows in order to fund the capital budget. I have been on the record saying that while I believe over the long term our borrowing will need to come down as our debt service costs are very high, this is not the year to start cutting back on construction spending. For example, MCPS has stated that school construction prices have dropped from more than $280 per square foot to $217. We should be taking advantage of that opportunity.

What the country and our county needs is for government at every level, Federal, state and local, to work together to boost economic activity. These projects create jobs right here in Montgomery County and of course they also create first-rate classrooms, greater mobility through enhanced transportation, stronger communities, and a better place to live.

Governor O’Malley has called for more capital spending at the state level, arguing that these projects will create jobs as well as improve the state’s economic position.

The county needs to pull its weight as well.

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Daily journal, 10-25-11

Today’s council session featured a presentation by the new Montgomery
County Business Development Corporation. This group of CEO level execs
are working to make recommendations for how we can create more jobs
here. I observed that according to our most recent economic report we
have fewer private sector jobs in the county than we did 10 years ago.
We need to get moving on building new economic development tools and
creating the infrastructure to grow our economy, particularly
transportation.

Then this evening I joined my colleague Roger Berliner, chair of the
transportation committee, at a committee session in Bethesda about the
escalator problems and the proposal for a new entrance to the Bethesda
Metro. We heard a range of suggestions for how we can improve access
there and manage the crisis when the escalators all go out of
operation. WMATA said that current plans are for replacement of the
escalators to begin in January of 2014. We will look into what it
would take to accelerate that timeline.

The picture is my view at the Bethesda Metro hearing. The gentleman in
front on the right side is Art Holmes, Director of the county
department of transportation.