Up the Street
Issue of the Week: The Next Word on the Budget – New Revenue
On the heels of MSEA’s poll showing support for a balanced approach in closing the state’s budget deficit— with both budget cuts and tax increases— a group of six state senators introduced a tax package that aims to generate $827 million in new revenue. The proposal, dubbed “Maryland First,” includes raising alcoholic beverage taxes, tobacco taxes, continuing the additional tax on income over $1 million, enacting corporate tax reform through combined reporting, and increasing the gasoline tax by 12 cents a gallon.
The senators advancing this effort propose using this revenue to offset many of the cuts proposed by Governor O’Malley and continuing critical investments in public education, transportation, and health. Additionally, the senators propose using over $200 million to pay down the state’s pension liability to both strengthen the pension fund and avoid efforts to break the promise of a secure retirement for teachers and state employees. Click here to view a summary of the tax package and proposed uses of the new revenue.
News and Notes
Let the Budget and Pension Hearings Begin
Detailed hearings on the budget and pension proposals from Governor O’Malley will take place in the House and Senate next week. House Appropriations will hold their hearing in the Joint Hearing Room on Tuesday, March 1 at 1:00 pm. The hearing before the Senate’s Budget and Tax Committee will be in the committee room in the Senate Office Building on Wednesday, March 2 at 1:00 pm.
MSEA Joined Wisconsin Solidarity Events
MSEA leaders and staff rallied in Annapolis on Tuesday with other labor partners to stand in solidarity with our union brothers and sisters in Wisconsin. Check out video from the rally. That night, MSEA and AFSCME organized a statewide conference call that was joined by over 5,700 member households and focused on the threats in Wisconsin and across the nation.
Maryland’s AAA Bond Rating
Maryland once again earned a AAA bond rating, and is one of just eight states to earn such a distinction. This is a significant element of keeping interest rates low on state debt payments allows for expanded bonding capacity.
Nancy Kopp Re-elected Treasurer
In a joint session of the House of Delegates and State Senate, Treasurer Nancy Kopp was re-elected to another four-year term in the position that she has held since 2002.
MSEA launched a new tool to help members connect with legislators throughout the session. The Promise Hotline is 1-888-216-PROMISE (1-888-216-7766). This is a tool that members can use on a repeated and routine basis, as the hotline will be updated throughout the session with legislative updates, new messages, and updated targeting of key committees and/or elected officials.
Have You Signed the Teacher Tax Petition?
We are still gathering signatures online to our petition opposing the “Teacher Tax” in Governor O’Malley’s proposed pension reforms. If you have not signed it or shared it with your members, please do so today.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Saturday, February 26 at noon is a rally to support working families in Maryland and join a nationwide mobilization to stand in solidarity with Wisconsin workers. The rally is organized by Progressive Maryland and MoveOn.org. It is scheduled for Lawyers Mall in Annapolis. Additional details are available here.
Monday, February 28 is the next meeting of the Educator Effectiveness Council. The Council will meet from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm at the Anne Arundel County Board of Education offices on Riva Road.
The Baltimore Education Coalition rally is set for Monday, February 28 at 7:00 pm in Annapolis. They plan to rally with more than 3,000 people demanding that the state fully fund public education.
Wednesday, March 2 is “Cat in the Hat Day” at the State Capitol. MSEA has invited legislators to join in this Read Across America event by passing resolutions in support of this day and by bringing books to the Capitol that can be donated to the school of the legislator’s choosing.
KEEP THE PROMISE CAMPAIGN
President Clara Floyd’s letter regarding our Keep the Promise campaign was received by all members this week. It includes asks for members to organize locally and mobilize for the statewide rally.
We need to not only continue outreach to our members to build for the March 14 rally, but also engage community partners who share our goals on education funding, retirement security, and otherwise holding elected official in Annapolis accountable for keeping the promise. MSEA is working to build these coalitions at the statewide level, but we need your help to get local PTAs, PTOs, retirement groups, education advocates, progressive allies, small businesses, and others as a part of the Coalition to Keep the Promise. Ask your Facebook friends to RSVP by sharing this Facebook link.