The Glass Gazette: June 2019


June 2019: The Budget Edition

Passing my first budget as Councilmember

While going through my first budget cycle as a councilmember, I kept in mind the 1.1 million constituents who contribute to this budget and who depend on county services and programs.

Determining the county’s $5.8 billion operating budget was an exercise in fiscal discipline. It was also an opportunity to put our dollars where our hearts are. I’m proud that my Council colleagues and I collaborated to make more services whole for some of our most vulnerable residents.

I hope you enjoy this budget edition of The Glass Gazette, which highlights some of the important initiatives that I fought to fund during this budget cycle.


We did it! Expanded Free Bus Service to Youth

Starting July 1 all youth under the age of 18 will be able to take Ride On and 24 Metrobus routes for free. One of the leading indicators of social mobility is access to reliable transportation. That’s why one of my top priorities during this budget cycle was to ensure that young people have expanded and free access to Ride On and Metrobus services.  

Every student should have the opportunity to succeed, regardless of which school they attend or their household wealth. There’s no reason a student should be walking in the cold or rain because they couldn’t afford bus fare. No student should ever miss out on a job or internship because they didn’t have a reliable way of getting home.

I fought to expand the “Kids Ride Free” program to all hours for all Montgomery County youth under the age of 18. And I’m appreciative that this initiative received strong support by all my colleagues. Expanding the “Kids Ride Free” program is the equitable thing to do, and it’s a smart way for us to foster a culture of transit ridership and environmental stewardship that will continue through adulthood.



Funding for Education

I voted in support of a $2.68 billion budget for Montgomery County Public Schools and $313.4 million budget for Montgomery College. I also voted to include over $800,000 to add four new Excel Beyond the Bell programs and three new Rec-Xtra programs at elementary schools and middle schools throughout the county. These programs have proven to be successful and continue to promote academic engagement.

Our changing economic landscape coupled with the need for a more entrepreneurial, higher-skilled workforce requires that we create a thriving environment to provide all students in the county with access to more opportunities. As the needs of our school children continue to grow, so does our need to continue investing in our schools.

This budget sends a signal to our students, teachers and administrators that the County Council takes seriously the need to expand opportunities for all students and its support to invest in education.


Restoring Bus Service to Upcounty

I fought to restore bus service for our county’s most heavily used bus routes: Ride On routes 49, 54, 55 and 57. These routes serve many Upcounty residents who are less likely to own vehicles and already have few transit options.

While we were deliberating the budget, a Montgomery College student who depends on the 55, 57 and 59 buses wrote the council asking to reverse these cuts in bus service. This student, Fernando, wrote - - “If there is a cut, it would mean I have to look for different methods of transportation, increase time to get different buses, and less sleep time. Please do not allow that to happen to me and many other working-class students that rely on those routes”.  

I was glad we could restore these routes, and just wish we could have restored funding to the other three routes that will see service reductions in the upcoming fiscal year.

I believe that it’s time for us to take a look at our public bus system and assess if we should redraw our routes, given the huge changes in population since they were last drawn.


Moving Forward to Tackle Climate Change

Both my initiative to expand the Kids Ride Free Program and expansion of bus service in Upcounty have many similarities, including promoting environmental stewardship.

Through this budget, I supported the Council’s initiative to hire a consultant who can help us move the important Climate Mobilization Plan forward. I believe that this will help put the County on a clear path towards fighting climate change.

We are all experiencing the adverse effects of global warming, and to make the situation even worse, we know that environmental justice issues disproportionately impact vulnerable and poor communities. Funding for this climate change initiative will help us ensure that we are doing our part in Montgomery County so that this world is left brighter and better for all those that will come after us.


Mental Health Services for Youth and Homeless Services

Mental health issues are most commonly seen starting in the teen years and we need to help address and treat these concerns at an early age.That is why I was glad to support expanded hours for Every Mind’s mental health texting hotline as well as additional funding for mental health therapists for middle school students.

As the Council’s lead on Homelessness and Vulnerable Communities, I worked with my colleagues to push for additional funding that is needed at Progress Place, one of our county’s heavily used shelters, to ensure the safety of clients, staff and the community.

progress place


Montgomery County, through its partnership with CASA, offers scholarships that can be used towards the USCIS application fee.

If you live in Montgomery County, you can call the CASA Center for Citizenship to learn more: (240) 560-2272.