“I applaud the Council on the budget agreement announced today.
“From the very start, we faced significant challenges with this budget. A $175 million gap turned into nearly $200 million when the Governor decided not to fund the Geographic Cost of Education index.
“Together, however, we were equal to this challenge.
“Together, we have invested in our critical needs while keeping spending at a reasonable level.
“Because it all begins with education, we’ve funded more than 99 percent of the Montgomery Public Schools request – a $131 million increase – and given Montgomery College the resources it needs to meet its growing enrollment.
“We are putting more police officers and Fire & Rescue personnel on the street to protect our lives and property. We have more than doubled our funding for youth violence prevention. The increase in funding for Montgomery Cares means more help for those County families without health insurance.
“And I’m especially pleased that the Council has fully funded my $10 million increase in resources for the Montgomery Housing Initiative Fund. This funding gives us more opportunity to preserve and expand the supply of affordable housing in the County so that folks who work here have a better shot at living here.
“And we’ve done all this while giving a $613 tax credit to every owner-occupied household in the County, 80 percent of whom will actually pay less in property taxes than they did last year.
“I want to thank Council President Marilyn Praisner for her stalwart leadership and each and every Councilmember for their efforts in passing the FY08 Budget. Truly, Montgomery County works better when we all work together. My congratulations to the Council on a job well done.”