Gov. Moore puts forth achievable, visionary budget

Lori Ackerman, Staff Writer

On Jan. 20, newly inaugurated Gov. Wes Moore released his budget for the 2024 fiscal year. The ambitious $63.1 billion budget contains record high funding for education, transportation and service. How will this impact the Dulaney community? I read through the Moore budget, and several key points stuck out to me.

For low-income families, Moore’s budget is a sigh of relief. Moore will accelerate plans to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by this October. It is high time to raise the minimum wage; Maryland’s current minimum wage is $13.25, whereas a living wage would be $19.74, according to MIT. While $15 an hour is not nearly enough, it is a welcome step and will make a noticeable difference for families living paycheck to paycheck.

Baltimore County will potentially see a significant increase in aid from the Moore budget. The fiscal year 2023 appropriation of funds for Baltimore County is $1.04 billion, whereas the fiscal year 2024 allowance will increase to $1.16 billion. The aid will primarily go towards K-12 education, community colleges and transportation. Chad Boyle, a 9th-grade government and AP US Government teacher at Dulaney, emphasizes the importance of aiding schools that are overwhelmed by mental health and social issues.

“The schools need more help with students, social issues and things that are happening outside of the classroom. Teachers try really hard…but we’re not equipped to solve those problems, and when you only have five or six guidance counselors and 2,000 students…that’s asking a lot of those people,” said Boyle.

The funding for transportation is notable in that it supports the Red Line, a light rail line that was canceled by the Hogan administration. This line was intentionally designed to connect economically disenfranchised, predominantly Black and minority neighborhoods to Baltimore’s economic centers. 

The cancellation of this project in 2015 missed an opportunity to give historically left-out groups a chance at economic prosperity. To add insult to injury, Hogan redirected this funding towards rural and suburban roads, which overwhelmingly benefited white Maryland residents, and towards the Purple Line, a light rail line that serves a predominantly wealthy Montgomery County. The last administration prioritized its white and well-off constituents, whereas Moore makes it clear that he will be a champion for marginalized Marylanders.

Moore also opens opportunities for students to engage in service. The new budget establishes the Department for Service and Civic Innovation, which will control the Service Year Option, a program that provides financial incentives for recent high school graduates to participate in and start service projects for a year. I am in complete agreement with this. Many bright, young students may have interest in and ideas for service, but lack the funds to make tangible improvements. This agency has the potential to increase the volume of service being done, foster youth leadership and create community cohesiveness.

“I would have liked to see them pilot it first, maybe try it in a couple counties…But I think overall it’s a great idea. I heard Gov. Moore and the direction he envisions, and I think it really could help younger people who just graduated learn to engage in their community,” said Boyle.

Moore’s focus is long-term economic development, which is much-needed given that Maryland’s economic growth lags behind the nation’s. According to the Maryland Department of Budget and Management, Maryland’s economy grew only 11% over the past 10 years, compared to 23% for the rest of the country. Investing in transportation fortifies the current workforce; investing in schools and service cultivates the future workforce.