Up the Street
The month that was in Annapolis
Workgroup to Consider Gaming
At the end of May, Governor O’Malley
named an 11-member workgroup to study a possible
expansion of gambling in Maryland. The workgroup has held two meetings so
far and is scheduled for a decision meeting on June 20. The group is
considering proposals to allow a sixth gaming license for a Prince George’s
County location and/or to permit the five facilities allowed under current law
to add Las Vegas-style table games. The governor indicated that if the
workgroup could reach a consensus proposal by the end of June, then he would
call a special session for as early as the week of July 9. The session would
handle the gaming legislation that would include a ballot question for the
November 2012 election.
MSEA testified before the workgroup this
week. While there was no official position about adding another location
or allowing table games, we stressed that the intent of voters back in 2008
when they first authorized commercial gaming and slots was that it was for the
primary purpose of funding public education. We asked that the workgroup
adopt a policy principle that regardless of where the expansion conversation
takes them that they hold true to the voter intent of protecting school funding
and the Education Trust Fund as the primary purpose of gross gaming
revenues. We further recommended that additional revenues generated to
the Education Trust Fund should allow for the state to make the Geographic Cost
of Education Index (GCEI) a mandatory inclusion in state aid for education and
not a discretionary funding stream.
Based on projections from the Department of Legislative
Services and Price Waterhouse Coopers, the state stands to realize
an additional $160 million in new revenues linked to the proposed
expansion. Adopting a revised index for GCEI and making it mandatory
would add $109 million in state aid for education. We know the importance
of protecting GCEI. It was a campaign priority for candidate O’Malley, he
has fully funded the old index as Governor O’Malley, and a majority of the
General Assembly prioritized funding GCEI when they used the May special
session to avoid the Doomsday Budget cuts that would have eliminated the $128
million currently allotted for GCEI.
$350 Million in School
Construction Approved for Fiscal Year 2013
The Board of Public Works approved
more than $161 million in school construction funding at the end of May to
complete the second round of approved funding for school construction projects
this year. The $350 million total exceeds construction dollars approved
for FY12 by $85 million and was a significant push to improve school
facilities, support the state economy, and encourage construction jobs.
Projects include new construction and renovations to tackle problems that
include sweltering and overcrowded classrooms and dilapidated buildings.
News and Notes
President Obama in Maryland
President Obama spent time in
Baltimore earlier this week as part of a fundraising swing through the
mid-Atlantic. Reports indicate Obama raised about $2 million on his trip
to the Old Line State.
NEA has recommended President Obama
for re-election. If you have not already done so, please use and share
this link to sign-up to be an Educator for Obama.
Volunteers will be asked to serve as local spokespeople and organizers for the
campaign. While Maryland is not a presidential battleground state, our
members still have an important voice in talking with other members in
neighboring battleground states such as Virginia and Pennsylvania about the
record of success President Obama has in protecting educator jobs and investing
in our schools and students.
MSEA in Wisconsin
Public employee unions suffered a
setback in Wisconsin last week in a failed attempt to recall Governor Scott
Walker. However, while less publicized in the national conversation,
critical work in Racine produced a significant recall victory in a State Senate
district that provided a new “goalie” in the state by creating a pro-public
education chamber in the state legislature. Educators elected one of their
own in the election of John Lehman to the State Senate.
MSEA staffers were a part of the
effort in the Badger State and in the Racine-based district, in
particular. Special thanks to UniServ Directors Cheryl McLeod, Mary Jo
Neville, Jennifer Nguherimo, and Mary Pat Spon for their efforts to support the
labor movement in Wisconsin.
Candidates Gearing up for 2014 Gubernatorial Campaign
As soon as Governor O’Malley was
re-elected in 2010, the campaign to succeed him began. The Democratic
field has long been rumored to include Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, Comptroller
Peter Franchot, Attorney General Doug Gansler, and Howard County Executive Ken
launched a new website this month to continue to lay the groundwork
for his statewide campaign.
The Republican field has more
speculation than announced candidates, except for newly minted and officially
announced candidate Blaine Young. Young is the president of the Frederick
County Commissioners. Other rumored candidates for the Republican
nomination include Harford County Executive David Craig (who has a
Campaign 2014 site) and former Secretary of State Larry Hogan.
HELP US ORGANIZE FOR CAMPAIGN
MSEA delegates used the Spring
Convention to formally adopt support of two ballot measures Maryland voters
will decide in November. The first is the Maryland Dream Act.
Recent court action formally qualified the question this week. It now
goes to the Secretary of State and Attorney General to develop specific
language that voters will be asked to consider. MSEA supports the
Maryland Dream Act and will work with allies and the Educating Maryland Kids
campaign to organize volunteers and encourage voters to support the issue.
The second issue is Marriage
Equality. While opponents of gay marriage are still filing signatures to
petition the issue to the ballot, they are expected to succeed. Voters
will be asked to uphold or throw out the law allowing same-sex couples to
marry. MSEA supports Marriage Equality and will be working with the
Marylanders for Marriage Equality campaign.
NEA is working to identify
spokespeople, organizers, and other volunteers to support member and campaign
efforts to re-elect President Obama.