Up the Street
Special Session report
In the course of four days, the General Assembly acted on Governor O’Malley’s proposed congressional redistricting map and approved the eight amended congressional districts for the state. The Democratic-controlled Assembly focused on making the 6th Congressional District in western Maryland (presently held by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett) more competitive for Democrats in the 2012 election cycle. That district now links down the I-270 corridor to include western portions of Montgomery County. While that was the most significant shift, roughly 30% of all Marylanders are drawn in to a new district based on the new map. Click here for interactive maps, demographic data, and other information of note for the new districts.
Governor O’Malley’s Jobs and Revenue Proposal
The special session was also an opportunity for hearings and planning for the 2012 regular session. Governor O’Malley took advantage of all 188 legislators being in town to preview his jobs proposal for next session. While early reports are light on details, the governor aims to put Marylanders back to work while building the state’s infrastructure with a focus on capital projects including roads, bridges, schools, and other public building. Additionally, Governor O’Malley continued the conversation about a “balanced approach” and spoke of the need for new revenue in order to fund his jobs plan, while also working to close the long-term structural deficit of the state. His revenue proposal is likely to include transportation related taxes and fees, and he hinted at other proposals that would ask Marylanders to pay “another penny… or another nickel, or another dime” in order to protect our shared priorities and make modern investments.
Legislators Receive Updates on MOE and Other Education Priorities
While no specific bills were heard this week, committees did meet to discuss key issues that will be priority items in the 2012 regular session. Specifically, the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing that covered updates on K-12 education, early childhood, No Child Left Behind waivers, and Maintenance of Effort (MOE). Background material reviewed in each session is linked above. Of particular importance, the MOE briefing noted the “unintended consequences” associated with legislative changes in the last two years and the impact of allowing counties to rebase their local school funding. Such briefings are critical to conveying to legislators the need for action because the status quo leaves us with a broken system.
The month that was in Annapolis
Public-Private Partnership Study Committee
The Commission on Oversight of Public-Private Partnerships was created to review and improve Maryland’s framework for public-private partnerships (P3). Governor O’Malley appointed Lt. Governor Anthony Brown to chair the 15-member commission, which is expected to issue a final report by December 1. A P3 means a sale or lease agreement between a unit of government and a private entity under which the private entity assumes control of the operation and maintenance of an existing facility; or the private entity constructs or operates a facility and will collect fees, charges, rents, or tolls for the use of the facility. Historically, P3s have involved construction and maintenance of transportation projects including toll roads; however, other states and countries have used P3s for social infrastructure projects including office buildings, wastewater plants, courthouses, and schools.
This commission is just one sign of growing interest and momentum in support of P3s in Maryland. As the debate continues, MSEA will be involved to support facility improvement while balancing concerns and expressing strong opposition to the privatization of services and/or maintenance of future projects.
New Poll Shows Need for Action to Avoid Deep Budget Cuts
Gonzales Research released a new statewide poll in October that offered important findings about the state’s budget crisis and the actions needed to achieve a “balanced approach” between cuts and revenues.
- Current budget situation in Maryland is a crisis or major problem: 82%
- Increase taxes or a combination of taxes and cuts is best approach to balance budget: 64%
- K-12 public education tops the list as the one service most important to protect from cuts: 31%
- Marylanders overwhelmingly expect millionaires and corporations to pay their fair share of taxes:
- Total favor increased income tax for millionaires: 72%
- Total favor combined reporting to close corporate tax loophole: 67%
News and Notes
ESEA Reauthorization Gets Started in the U.S. Senate
Congress is starting to debate the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. When this Act was reauthorized 10 years ago, it resulted in No Child Left Behind. The mistakes from that effort cannot be repeated again. To get it right and produce a bill that will actually help students learn and educators teach, Congress must listen to the experts: YOU and your colleagues.
Please make sure Senators Mikulski and Cardin hear from you — especially Senator Mikulski, who will play a lead role on this issue in the Senate. Visit www.educationvotes.org for more information.
Public Comment in Search for a New State Superintendent of Schools
The Maryland State Board of Education is soliciting public comments for Marylanders to share what characteristics they would like to see in the new superintendent. Check the schedule for a forum near you. If you cannot attend a forum, you can use the online survey at www.ecragroup.com/mdss to share your thoughts. All survey comments must be submitted by November 18, 2011.
Help the Ohio Education Association Defeat Question 2
Collective bargaining is under attack in Ohio. The Ohio Education Association is working to repeal Senate Bill 5 with their “No on Issue 2” campaign. Check out the No on Issue 2 Action Center for more information and details on how you can help.
“Save Our State” Community Conversations
MSEA is in coalition with other progressive and community groups to organize community conversations that focus the budget debate away from more cuts and towards a more balanced approach. See below for upcoming dates and locations for a community conversation near you.
- November 1, 6-8pm E. Russell Hicks Middle School, Hagerstown
- November 2, 6-8pm St. Mary’s College, Goodpaster Hall, Room 195, St. Mary’s City
- November 7, 6-8pm Salisbury University, Wicomico Room, Salisbury
- December 12, 6-8pm Baltimore City Community College Auditorium, Baltimore
More dates and locations to be announced soon.
We need your help to /activate
We need your help to build the capacity necessary to have GR Committees in every local, State Legislative Action Teams in every legislative district, and a renewed focus on PAC fundraising and local coalition building.
Please help us reach these critical capacity building goals by sharing www.marylandeducators.org/activate with members.