Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz doesn’t “want to create a war” with Baltimore County Public Schools officials, but in an interview Monday he said he would like more of a say in “the schools system’s budgetary process.”

“In general government budgets, the county executive has the authority to approve or disapprove spending categories. Here we don’t have that direct hands-on ability to do so,” said Kamenetz in an interview with Patch.  “Yet, we have to pay the bill.”

Kamenetz made his comments during an interview in Annapolis as the General Assembly is wrapping up the final hours of its 90-day session.

Read more about it and see a video of Kamenetz on my Insider Politics blog.
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County In Line for $7M in School Construction Money from Alcohol Tax


Maryland State House

Baltimore County could stand to gain an additional $7 million in school construction funding in a compromise that would increase the state’s sales and use tax on alcohol.

The complicated deal, which will require that both a House and Senate version be passed together, calls for increasing the tax on alcohol from 6 to 9 percent in one year rather than a 1 percent increase each year through 2014.

The 3 percent increase will add $89 million to state coffers. Of that, about $47.5 million in the first year will go to school construction projects around the state.

Read more about it and see a chart breaking down where the money will go on my Insider Politics Blog on Patch.

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A More Comfortable Sine Die



The secret to a more comfortable last day of the General Assembly session starts with good footwear. Just ask House Speaker Michael Busch.

More on my Insider Politics Blog.

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Hairston Gets Breakfast and Homework



Baltimore County Schools Superintendent Joe A. Hairston came to Annapolis for breakfast on Friday and left with a list of questions two legislative leaders said need answering.

Sen. Kathy Klausmeier and Del. John A. Olszewski Jr., who chair Baltimore County’s Senate and House delegations, met with Hairston over breakfast at the Annapolis Marriott. During the meeting the pair presented the superintendent with a list of more than a dozen questions.

“We were very clear on our expectations and what we expect to happen,” Olszewski said in a meeting with reporters held after the breakfast and a second meeting with four delegates and senators.

Read more about it on Patch.

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Kamenetz Says “No;” Legislators Plan to Discuss Private Meeting with Media



Legislators asking County Executive Kevin Kamenetz to save nearly 200 teaching positions have their answer and it was not the one for which they were hoping.

Kamenetz, in a letter released today, cited budgetary constraints and cuts in state aid to the county as the primary factors.

Also, Del. John A. Olszewski Jr. and Sen. Kathy Klausmeier say they will meet with the media tomorrow right after they conclude their private breakfast confab with Joe A. Hairston.

Read about Kamenetz’s response as well as his letter to legislators and more information about the legislators’ news conference and this week’s political chat with WBAL radio’s Bill Vanko on my Insider Politics blog.

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Hairston to Hold Private Meeting with Lawmakers



Baltimore County Schools Superintendent Joe A. Hairston is scheduled to meet with some state legislators on Friday but the meeting will not be public.

Sen. Kathy Klausmeier and Del. John Olszewski Jr., who chair the Baltimore County Senate and House delegations, said today they will meet privately with Hairston over breakfast Friday.

Klausmeier, a Perry Hall Democrat, said Hairston required a private meeting.

Read more on my Insider Politics Blog.

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City Senator, County Lobbyist Tangle Over Alcohol Tax


State House

A chance encounter in Annapolis today between a state senator from Baltimore City and the legislative lobbyist for Baltmore County led to a heated exchange over possible opposition to a proposed alcohol tax.

Lobbyist Yolanda Winkler was on her way to a meeting of the county’s Senate delegation being held in a public hallway in the State House when she was approached by Sen. Verna Jones, a Baltimore City Democrat.

Jones stood very close to Winkler, who was backed against a wall, and began to fire off questions about the lobbyist’s presentation to county delegates on a proposed increase to the state alcohol tax and about the county’s position on the issue.

Read more about it on my Insider Politics blog.

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