MoCo news blurbs


Photo by Seyun Park

Traffic along I-495 and I-270 has garnered DC area traffic an infamous reputation. Despite earlier plans for toll lanes along I-270, Austrian company Transurban has backed down from its original plans.

Moore bill to ban gas powered cars by 2035

Newly elected governor Wes Moore has set out a 12-year plan to ban gas-powered cars by the year 2035. This move was made to rapidly accelerate the state’s plans of having greater air quality and combat the worsening effects of climate change. The new bill mirrors a recent one passed by the state of California. Moore added that car exhaust is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the state. To encourage Marylanders to buy electric cars, Moore is offering a tax break to those who buy an electric car before the end of the year. Moore also promised that the move from gas-powered cars to electric would bring many new jobs to the market.

Transuburan backs off I-270

Transuburban, an Australian-based company that was leading the project on expanding I-270 has exited the project citing a new political climate in Maryland. This announcement comes less than two weeks before the company was due to submit a final deadline for the highway expansion. The project was first mandated by former governor Larry Hogan, who promised the project would be the largest public/private partnership in the country. However, the plan to expand I-270 was met with a large public outcry, which Wes Moore used to his advantage during the election cycle. Moore hopes that one day in Maryland it will be as easy to get around by transit as it is by driving.

Kensington new public electric vehicle charging stations

In Kensington’s pursuit of leading the state as a “green community,” the town installed two electric vehicle charging stations throughout the city. One is located outside the Kensington MARC station, and the other is located at the town hall parking lot. While the charging stations have been met with complaints, such as the speed at which the chargers operate, the town council insists that this is a small step towards making Kensington reliable for electric vehicle transportation.

Proposed tax raise for Montgomery County

In the 2024 fiscal year, Montgomery County will see a new operating budget. The budget is valued at $6.8 billion. Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich announced that he is recommending a “10 cent increase” on the county’s property tax rate to fund the new budget. A Montgomery County spokesperson explained that a .1 percent increase in the tax rate would have a person who owns a home which is valued at $500,000, paying $500 more in property tax. The new budget also includes $707 million in public safety. The public safety section of the budget will address health, transportation, and fire safety. The new budget will still keep some assistance that was provided during the first couple of months of the pandemic, through funding by the federal government.

New budget proposal for MCPS

The new operating budget for Montgomery County will have a direct impact on the MCPS budget for 2024. Under the new budget, $3.2 billion will be allocated to MCPS. The new property tax proposed by Elrich will give MCPS an additional $220 million in funding. The 2024 fiscal budget will be a 10% increase over the previous year. School board president Karla Silvestre cited reasons of competitive staff salaries, inflation and a ‘student mental health crisis’ as reasons for the increase in the operating budget. The new proposed budget will now move to an 11-member County Council for approval.

WJ earns five stars on report card

The Maryland State Department of Education has come out with a report card of schools within the state, the first since 2019. In 2022 WJ earned a five-star rating (out of five), ranking in the 91% percentile of all schools in the state. In the category of “How Did My School Do Overall?” WJ earned 76 out of a possible 100 points. In the category of “How Did My School Do On Academic Measures”, a combination of academic achievement, graduation rate, progress in achieving English language proficiency and readiness for post-secondary success, WJ scored 50 out of 65 points, not meeting all of its targets.