Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. on Thursday touted his $4.9 billion spending plan as the “largest increase in history” for the county school system and includes a “record investment” for government employees.

Olszewski, a Dundalk Democrat up for re-election in November, proposed a cost-of-living increase for teachers and county employees and announced in a speech in Baltimore that Community College of Baltimore County would be free for residents earning less than $150,000 a year. County Council in Towson.

Also in attendance were state lawmakers, county agency leaders, Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger, and Olzewski’s father, former County Council member John Olzewski Sr.

Olszewski Jr. made only a passing reference to COVID-19 in his speech, which he mostly focused on the raises his budget would give county employees, if applicable.

“Baltimore County continues our pandemic recovery while setting bold new standards for our government,” he said. “The increases provided in this year’s budget allow us to balance our multiple obligations… [while] Ensuring that our most valuable resource – our people – receive the wages and compensation they deserve.”

If passed by the council, the budget, which would take effect July 1, would give county employees a 4% cost-of-living raise, create a $500,000 student loan relief fund for employees with student loans, set aside $119 million for the county. retirement system, and pay increases for more police officers, sheriff’s deputies and corrections officers.

County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. provides an overview of the proposed fiscal year 2024 budget at Baltimore County's 6th District 2023 Budget Town Hall at Towson High School.

The fiscal year 2024 proposal is 1.8% larger than the current year’s budget, though Olszewski told reporters that its nearly $5 billion price tag “is still a significant amount.”

Under his plan, Baltimore County Public Schools would receive $3.3 billion, $71 million on top of what the state owes the school system, which would provide step-up funding and a guaranteed $59,000 starting salary for teachers.

The county Board of Education approved a $2.6 billion budget proposal last month, after the teachers union requested a bump in teacher pay to prevent younger employees from moving into higher-paying jobs.

“We greatly appreciate the County Executive’s continued commitment to Baltimore County Public Schools,” Superintendent Darryl Williams and Board President Jane Lichter said in a joint statement. “We urge the County Council to support the County Executive’s recommendation and provide the funding we need to better serve students, provide enhanced compensation for staff, and improve academic outcomes for all BCPS students.”

Olszewski, a former teacher at Patapsco High School in Dundalk, said last week he supported the teachers’ request, but the decision rests with the district, which would have to use his proposed “historic investments” to raise teacher pay.

He told reporters after the budget address that he believes his budget plan will provide the school system with “the resources it needs to make significant progress for all.” [its] Staff Group”.

Baltimore County’s Proposed Budget

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The budget allocates $9 million to build a new Catonsville fire station. $9 million for the Sparrows Point Fire Station and Training Facility; $30 million to renovate Baltimore County Public Library locations in Essex, Lansdowne, Randallstown and Woodlawn; $5 million for the redevelopment of Security Square Mall, and $3 million in state funds to renovate the Pikesville Armory.

The county Department of Corrections, which is investigating the conditions of youth inmates at the Baltimore County Detention Center, received $50.9 million, up $3.7 million from last year, according to budget documents. That would include funding to allow officers to serve 12-hour shifts instead of 8 hours with mandatory overtime, Olszewski said.

Councilman Pat Young, a Catonsville Democrat, said the council will address prison conditions after Olszewski’s address and publicize Public Corrections Director Walt J. Pasterfield’s findings during the agency’s budget hearings, which are expected next month.

Pasterfield previously told the county’s General Assembly delegation that children under 18 were often held in cells for long periods of time due to staff shortages.

Under the proposed budget, the county office of the inspector general would receive $835,042, or a $232,000 increase. Some of that money will be spent on hiring a new director of ethics under the law office, Olszewski said, as recommended by the county’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Ethics and Accountability.

The Baltimore County Council will hold a budget hearing on April 25. It is expected to vote on the final version of the budget on May 25.

Baltimore Sun reporter Sabrina LeBoeuf contributed to this article.

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