ANNAPOLIS, Md.—When it comes to figuring out who should get credit for bringing Washington County a share of a wealth-based grant called the disparity grant, it depends on whom you ask.
House Speaker Michael E. Busch, D-Anne Arundel, credits John Donoghue, D-Washington, with bringing home disparity funding for Washington County.
Thomas V. Mike Miller, D-Calvert/Prince George’s, credits a wider circle of people, including local legislators such as Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington.
The county will get $1.55 million in fiscal year 2014 as its share of the grant approved by the Maryland General Assembly.
The money is part of an extra allocation made to counties that were locked out of the grant in 2010 or affected negatively when it was frozen. The grant usually is given to jurisdictions with per capita income tax revenues of less than 75 percent of the state average.
Getting the money was one of the top priorities for the county delegation during the 2013 session of the General Assembly, which ended Monday.
The first indication that the county might get a share of the money, which goes to a jurisdiction’s general fund, came in March when the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee approved money for the grant.
But efforts to get the money stalled in the House of Delegates.
It seemed possible the county would lose out once again, as it did in 2012.
About two weeks ago, Busch hinted that the county was about to get the money and credit should go to Donoghue.
“… the only way we (would) consider it is because John Donoghue has been, you know, supportive of the budget ... the only way the House supports it is because (of) John Donoghue,” Busch said at the time.
He criticized some Washington County legislators for voting against the budget, and then asking for the money for their jurisdiction.
These observations did not sit well with the Republican legislators from Washington County, including Del. Andrew A. Serafini, R-Washington, who is also the chair of the county’s delegation.
“It did not live or die based on myself or any one person … It was collaborative. We’d all like our name on something but I really don’t care,” Serafini said of the disparity grant. “At the end of the day it did take a team of people.”
He said that Shank, Del. LeRoy E. Myers, R-Allegheny/Washington, Sen. George C. Edwards, R-Garrett/Allegany/Washington and Sen. David R. Brinkley, R-Carroll/Frederick, were among those who worked with him as they tried to secure the grant money.
“I don’t care who gets the credit,” he said.
Serafini said he voted for the final version of the budget this year in part because it included the disparity grant money.
In addition to Serafini, local lawmakers in the House of Delegates who voted for the budget included Donoghue and Myers.
Del. Neil C. Parrott, R-Washington, and Del. Michael J. Hough, R-Frederick/Washington, voted against the budget. In the Senate, Edwards and Sen. Ronald N. Young, D-Frederick/Washington, voted for the budget. Shank voted for the budget in March but he wasn’t among lawmakers who voted either yes or no on the final vote on the budget.
Shank said he was not able to vote for the budget because he was called away to a conference committee meeting.
Miller said that a lot of legislators worked on the issue.
“Everybody gets credit for it. … Donoghue should get credit for it but certainly Chris Shank should get credit for it as well,” Miller said.
“In the senate side, we try to support proposals. We learned from the former speaker (Casper R. Taylor, former House Speaker 1975-2003) about One Maryland,” Miller said. “If one part of the state hurts, the whole state hurts.”
Donoghue said the most important issue was that the money was coming to Washington County.
“I think what the Speaker said, he made it clear … I only rely on what the Speaker of the House says and I’m very grateful that I was able to secure that funding,” Donoghue said.
“I never take credit for anything. I’m a very humble guy,” he added.