...The report focuses heavily on recent funding decisions made by Montgomery’s public school system, which accounts for about half of the county’s roughly $4 billion budget. It also addresses revisions to Maryland’s “maintenance of effort” law, which requires per-pupil education funding to remain at least the same level from year to year.
With newly enacted changes, the state mandate has become more inflexible. If Montgomery schools increase per-pupil funding in a given year, that increase becomes “a new, permanently increased funding level,” potentially changing the budget picture for other agencies, the report says.
“The state has taken over a relationship between the school system and the county that worked,” said council member Hans Riemer (D-At Large). “They broke a thing that was working well.”
The report revisits the school system’s budget decisions of last spring at length, most notably the raises it approved for teachers and other employees, which came at an annual cost scheduled to be $65 million.
The analysis determined that cost was equivalent to 550 additional full-time employees this year — including reading teachers, paraeducators and music teachers — and another 200 next year.
Many positions have been cut in the past two years, and county council members say they often hear complaints.
If smaller raises had been given, some positions could have been restored or class sizes could have been reduced, the report says....
The Washington Post: Economy, law could lead to 2013 cuts in public services in Montgomery County