I’m running for County Executive to restore Montgomery’s competitive edge. Our quality of life, and the County's affordability and long-term fiscal and environmental sustainability depend on it.
Our wonderfully diverse community is an economic strength, but high taxes are squeezing our residents and businesses, making it harder to compete with other jurisdictions for good jobs. Only 20¢ of every tax dollar sent to Annapolis from our County comes back in direct state aid, squeezing our residents even more. This has to change and the County Executive must lead the battle. Our neighboring counties get far more back from Annapolis, and the average of all counties is 43¢. Howard County has a higher median income and far lower poverty rate than Montgomery, yet receives a significantly larger percentage back of their tax dollars from the State than does Montgomery. Last year, the General Assembly, including most of Montgomery's own state senators and delegates voted to shift a large share of teachers' pension costs to counties, even though counties don't set teachers' salaries, pension benefits, or invest pension funds. This will cost Montgomery taxpayers more than $60 million annually by 2017.
I voted against the proposal by County Executive Leggett, and the decision of the County Council to raise the property tax rate in 2011 and to increase it again in 2012 and 2013. The County's property tax rate is now at its highest level in 13 years. I opposed the excessive pay raises agreed to by County Executive Leggett and the Council of 13.5% to 19.5% for most County employees over the next two years. I supported a smaller, sustainable pay raise and using the savings to reduce the huge 2010 increase in the energy tax by an additional 10%. I'm pleased that in May the Council approved reducing the 2010 energy tax increase by an additional 10%, which will help improve the County's ability to compete with other jurisdictions for good jobs and strenghten our tax base. The County needs to continue to keep its promise to phase out the 2010 increase. The need to make County government more cost-effective remains pressing.
I’ve led many successful battles on the County Council for progressive reform and fiscal responsibility (see His Record). As president of the County Council during the depth of the recession in 2009, I led efforts that balanced the budget wisely. We reduced tax-supported County Government spending for the first time since 1992, held the line on tax rates, avoided employee layoffs, protected essential services such as education, public safety, and safety net services from substantial cuts, and saved $125 million by canceling a pay raise.
To help relieve congestion, I proposed that the state cut ICC tolls in half to increase use of the underused highway. I have long advocated building the Corridor Cities Transitway and the Purple Line, and proposed the option for widening I-270 from Shady Grove Road to Frederick County recommended by Montgomery County to the State: two reversible lanes to mimimize cost, community, and environmental impacts).
The son of a librarian, I graduated from local public schools, from Bucknell University, and from the University of Pennsylvania (master's degree in governmental administration). I was a paperboy during the first Earth Days and during the Watergate era, which shaped my commitment to environmental sustainability, and to honest government that works for its people. That’s why I worked for Common Cause of Maryland for six years as executive director, where I led successful battles for open government and campaign finance reform. I refuse all campaign funds from political action committees (PACs) and development interests and rely on contributions from residents like you to improve trust in government.
Join my campaign for County Executive. Learn more at www.philandrews.com. Let me know what’s on your mind by calling 301-710-6322 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I appreciate your time, hope to earn your vote in 2014, and welcome your support.