- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 21, 2007

ABERDEEN, Md. — Maryland communities affected by the military’s Base Realignment and Closure plan will get the federal transportation and education aid they need, despite House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer’s warning last week that a tight federal budget might mean less money for such local aid, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski said yesterday.

The federal funding that will help counties expand schools and roads ahead of a population influx will not come from earmarks, which are being cut, but from formula funding, which will not be affected by budget cuts, Miss Mikulski said.

“I am confident that the specific projects that are focused not only on Aberdeen, but all the Maryland projects, will be funded,” she said at a press conference yesterday after touring Aberdeen Proving Ground with Harford County Executive David R. Craig.

Miss Mikulski, a Democrat, has emphasized that she will fight for federal aid for Maryland communities affected by BRAC, and she said yesterday that she would seek to double the money the state will receive in what is known as “impact aid,” which funds school districts where children of military members are enrolled.

Harford County is expected to gain 12,712 jobs by 2011, according to a report paid for by the Department of Labor.

Last week, Mr. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, said Maryland should be prepared to shoulder the bulk of the BRAC funding burden because it will benefit the state financially in the long run, an opportunity other states would “kill” for.

Miss Mikulski suggested Mr. Hoyer might have been referring to earmarks when he made the comment.

Yesterday, a spokeswoman from his office said Mr. Hoyer was not suggesting that he would not be working with the Maryland congressional delegation to find funding opportunities, but simply was cautioning that federal contributions might be limited because of the tight fiscal reality.

President Bush’s budget for fiscal year 2008 freezes “impact aid” at $1.2 billion for the third year in a row. Miss Mikulski is a member of the Senate Impact Aid Coalition, which is seeking increased impact aid funding.

“Earmarks are small amounts of money,” Miss Mikulski said. “In some ways, it’s like playing bingo — we want to make sure we hit the jackpot. The more money we can get either available through the formula or shift the formula to meet our needs, we’re in a lot better shape.”

The formula funding is done on a per capita basis, she said, so the more employees gained by each base, the more money the county would gain.

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