No Sense of Responsibility

Montgomery County is facing a $401 million budget shortfall. Presumably this is all the fault of a “structural deficit” created by the previous Republican administration… oops, sorry, I was channeling our governor there for a moment.

We don’t know why this deficit exists, no one will talk about that subject, but I’m going to go way out on a limb here and hypothesize that the county government is spending a lot more money than it is extorting from the citizenry.

Into this grim scenario rides county schools poobah Jerry Weast. Of Montgomery County’s current $4.2 billion budget, Mr. Weast’s empire consumes $1.9 billion. So one would think that if anyone owns up to being partly to blame for this mess it would be him. One would be wrong.

Weast said county officials guided him to cap new spending at $110 million, or about 5.6 percent of the $1.99 billion budgeted for the county this fiscal year. He said it was the smallest year-to-year increase proposed for Maryland’s largest school system since 1997.

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“We had to make some painful decisions” to meet the spending target, he said, including $4.4 million in cuts to central administration, $2.7 million to operations and $3.5 million to schools.

The cuts, he said, were the first “of what I consider a series of retrenchments, should the economy not change.”

Nearly all the new spending covers salary and benefits, with the bulk — $75 million — funding a 5 percent pay raise for teachers, part of a three-year compact with the teachers association. The proposal includes $10 million for academic initiatives, the endeavors by which Weast and other superintendents make their mark.

That’s right. The county has a $401 million deficit, and $110 million of that deficit is new spending proposed by Mr. Weast. Not spending to retain current levels of service, but new spending. Not only that but he whines like a little girl (looking forward to your next frothing rant of conservative hate, young master Kujan) at the notion that he has to limit new spending.

In a school district noted for pursuing every whacko, left wing, cause under the sun one would have thought that this would provide a teaching moment, a golden opportunity to show “the children” that we can’t have everything that we want, that we have to cooperate, that we are in this together, that we must share hardships as well as good times. Guess not.

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