Prince George’s County’s proposed budget for next year includes significant increases in health and education and decreases in law enforcement funding, according to a community newsletter from the county.
The total proposed budget for fiscal year 2022 is 1.3 percent higher than the prior year’s budget, which the newsletter said reflects the financial constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic. The county is facing historic unemployment rates, County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said during a press conference this month.
“Our new budget must reflect the reality of our situation,” Alsobrooks said.
Over a million dollars will be allocated toward a continued pandemic response, according to the newsletter. The proposal allocates $30.1 million to the health department, a 4.5 percent increase compared to the previous fiscal budget.
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This increase will support 10 new positions in the health department — including three registered nurses, a disease control specialist, a safety officer, an auditor and three system analysts. These new positions are designed to help immunize more residents against COVID-19, Alsobrooks said.
The Board of Education is expected to receive the largest amount of investments at $2.34 billion — with $816.3 million coming from the county — which is an increase of $64.4 million over the 2021 budget, according to the newsletter. Some of this will be allocated to the construction of six new schools in the next three years, Alsobrooks said.
“During a global pandemic, we are still funding education at a historic level,” Alsobrooks said.
Additionally, the police department is facing a nearly 4 percent decrease in allocated funds from the county compared to the previous fiscal year, according to the newsletter. The approved funds, at $335.5 million, will be used to implement the Police Reform Work Group recommendations, which include hiring a race and equity director and two psychologists.
The proposed budget reflects a nationwide focus on social justice, which is something the county is prioritizing, Alsobrooks said.
“Prince Georgians want to close the equity gap in policing, they want to close the equity gap in public health and they want to close the equity gap in education,” Alsobrooks said.