Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Remarks at Committee for Montgomery Breakfast

What a great turnout at the Committee for Montgomery Breakfast. In case you missed them, here are my remarks from this morning:

It’s a privilege to be here this morning with so many people who make Montgomery County the great place it is.  Thanks to Raymond Sherbill (Chair, Committee for Montgomery), Steve Simon (Breakfast Chair), and everyone who has put together this excellent program.  Thanks also to Nancy King and Shane Robinson (Chairs of our Montgomery County Senate and House Delegations) and to our entire Delegation for the partnership they have forged with all of us.

I’m especially pleased to be here with my colleagues on the County Council – Council Vice President Roger Berliner and Councilmembers Marc Elrich, Tom Hucker, Sidney Katz, George Leventhal and Craig Rice.  Will they and their staff please stand?  Know that they work countless hours on behalf of our more than one million residents.

I truly congratulate the Committee for highlighting economic development this year.  There can be no question that this needs to be the number one priority for all of us. Only by focusing on job growth and expanding our tax base are we able to preserve and enhance our great County services and -- most important --create opportunities for our residents. That’s why with every legislative choice I make, I ask myself:  How does my decision enhance job growth? How does it expand the tax base? And how am I creating opportunities for all our residents to be self-sufficient and successful?

Five years ago, in the depth of the Great Recession, we launched the Montgomery Business Development Corporation, a public-private partnership designed to fuel our economy.  This past year, we took that achievement to the next level. We have created a new Economic Development Corporation -- moving us from a government- to a business-based model for County economic success.  We are truly elevating the status of business and job growth in Montgomery County.  The State will be a vital partner in this enterprise.  So will our region.  Once again, I thank the Committee for its wisdom in selecting today’s theme.

This is all the more important since, as you know, our County revenues are disappointing. Here’s our reality check. The Wynne decision alone will cost us 76 million dollars in the next fiscal year.  The shift of teacher pension costs will consume another 58 million dollars -- funds that we would much prefer to devote to the classroom. Now there’s a new threat -- the potential loss of 35 million dollars in revenue provided by our Department of Liquor Control. These pressures alone could drive tax increases, and that’s without considering any new initiatives, expanding successful programs or increasing education funding.

Everyone here knows what’s at stake.  We must meet our obligations to the community. At the same time we cannot unduly burden our residents or our businesses.  But that will require all of us to work together -- in Annapolis and here at home. And it will require us to ask over and over and over again:  How does my decision enhance job growth and expand our tax base? How am I creating opportunities for my community members?

So let us join forces now as we have in the past.  Let’s pool our energy and fortitude.  Let’s say yes to economic success in Montgomery County and claim the future that our people deserve.

No comments: