Prince George 's County Executive Jack B. Johnson Delivers State of the Economy Address

Carla Peay | 4/1/2009, 4:26 p.m.

Prince George's County Executive Jack Johnson using overhead chart to illustrating success in Prince George's County at the Prince George's State of the Economy Photo by Maurice G. Fitzgerald
Let me remind you of just how far we've come on the education front. In six years, we have opened 11 new schools; hired additional teachers and improved their salaries; reduced class sizes; and made significant investments in early childhood education.

The heart of my administration has always centered around two main goals: bringing crime down and moving education forward. In both, we have invested the necessary resources to achieve these goals. Two months ago, Governor Martin O'Malley boasted that Maryland was ranked number one in education by Education Week Magazine.

As we go forward, let me talk a little bit about some of the challenges we now face.

As a result of our 113 million dollar deficit, two weeks ago, I unveiled a budget that will require great sacrifices. Although our revenues are 93 million dollars less than last year, our proposed budget allows us to make investments in all core areas of our county. I want you to know that closing a deficit this large is very difficult.

In order to balance this budget, we are taking a number of steps to reduce spending:
  • We will continue the 14-month-old hiring freeze.
  • We will continue the 10-day government-wide employee furloughs for a second year.
  • There will be no merit or cost-of-living wage increases.
  • County agencies will be required to reduce spending by 10 percent;
  • Unfortunately, we can not avoid laying off 307 county employees
  • And reducing funding to the Board of Education.

Hopefully, this is not my final budget. The General Assembly is still in session and we are pressing our case to the Prince George 's County Delegation and to the Governor for additional revenues -- that will allow us to rescind some of the cuts in our proposed budget.

Despite these difficult times, we must continue to make investments in every area of community life, including economic development. In order for us to continue to be competitive in the region and maintain excellence, we must increase and diversify our tax base. To accomplish this, we must attract visitors and conventions, and provide loans and other financial resources to attract and retain businesses-both large and small.

We must position ourselves to take advantage of the unique opportunities created by the emerging world markets. We must continue to focus on international markets and understand that there are great opportunities in Asia and Africa. No county of our size, with the business acumen and a growing international community can afford to be left out of the global marketplace. As long as I am county executive, we will continue to move forward.

I know that the times we are in are tough. However, history has taught us that tough times don't last forever. As a result of our county's progress over the last seven years, we are well positioned to address the challenges that we face.