Up the Street
What is happening in Annapolis?
Special Session on Gaming
Governor O’Malley submitted legislation to expand commercial gamingto include a sixth casino in Prince George’s County and allow all license holders to offer table games. The bill received a favorable report Thursday night from the Senate Budget and Tax Committee. It is expected to receive final passage in the Senate as early as Friday. The House will take up the bill over the weekend. While the bill is expected to easily pass the Senate, the House vote is more in doubt. That said, Governor O’Malley is expressing confidence that the votes to pass the legislation are secure. If the legislation stays on track, the session could adjourn as early as Tuesday, August 14.
MSEA offered written testimony on the gaming bill that neither supported nor opposed gaming expansion, but focused on how any expansion must be a good deal for the state with an outcome that grows the Education Trust Fund (ETF). Growth in the ETF allows us to effectively lobby for holding education funding harmless during challenging economic times, and as the state’s economic picture improves, we can more aggressively pursue efforts for ETF dollars to supplement state aid and not simply supplant general fund spending.
Details of how the bill impacts the ETF and state finances are outlined in the fiscal note and include:
- An additional $20 million in projected net revenue to the state in FY13 and $200 million once a Prince George’s facility opens in 2016.
- State will transfer ownership of slot machines to licensees. Savings from this transfer will be directed to the ETF.
- There will be a 20% tax rate on table games, with the entirety of the revenue going to the ETF.
- The overall percent of gross revenue going to the ETF will drop by as much as 5%, but expansion will yield substantially more dollars for the ETF
News and Notes
- Pension Fund Investment Returns Less Than 1% in 2012
After an investment return of 20% last year, the State Retirement System earned 0.36% this year. The weak return will turn the spotlight on the health of the pension system again. It is important to take the long-view when evaluating investment returns. The system amortizes gains and losses over 10 years. The 10-year earnings rate for the system is 5.89%. The 25-year earnings rate is 7.85%. The system recently renewed 7.75% as the assumed rate of return for establishing assumptions that determine what the state’s contribution level will be next year and the years ahead.
- State’s Triple-A Bond Rating Upheld
Despite a poor investment return and concerns about pension liabilities, all three major credit agencies upheld and renewed Maryland’s Triple-A bond rating, a seal of approval for the stability of overall state finances and an important factor in limiting interest costs on state bonding and borrowing.
- Congressional Redistricting Challenge Qualifies for the November Ballot
The Maryland State Board of Elections has certified that the state's congressional redistricting map will be on the ballot in November for voters to approve or reject. Despite the maps being up for voter approval, the 2012 congressional races are being run in the new districts. If voters reject the maps, it will send the legislature back to work on creating new districts in time for the 2014 elections.
From statewide ballot initiatives to races for Congress and School Board, MSEA and our local affiliates are heavily engaged in organizing and supporting political efforts this year. Here is a rundown of important issues and races with information on how to get involved and make a difference this year.
- Maryland Dream Act (Educating Maryland Kids)
The Maryland Dream Act is about fairness. The Dream Act allows children who graduate from Maryland high schools and whose families have filed income taxes to be eligible to pay in-state tuition rates to attend Maryland colleges. Get the facts about the Dream Act. Help MSEA support passage of this ballot measure by volunteering to help us get the word out to members and voters.
- Marriage Equality (Marylanders for Marriage Equality)
MSEA is working to defend Maryland’s Civil Marriage Equality Law. This issue of equal rights and fairness impacts the lives of MSEA members and the lives of students in every school system in the state. Recent polling released by the campaign shows Maryland voters support protecting the marriage equality law by a spread of 54-40. MSEA is organizing members interested in this issue to work with the Marriage Equality campaign. Volunteer here.
- John Delaney for Congress (6th District)
A recent poll shows that incumbent Congressman Roscoe Bartlett is in trouble. He is trailing Democrat John Delaney in the new 6th Congressional District. Delaney leads 44-42 and many national pundits have moved the race from “toss up” to “lean Democrat.” Delaney has been recommended by MSEA and NEA and his campaign is hosting several free events throughout the district this summer. Volunteers are being recruited to help with canvasses and phonebanks.
- Educators for Obama
NEA and the Maryland Coordinated Campaign are organizing volunteers in Maryland to phonebank and canvass voters in swing states like Virginia and Pennsylvania. You can get involved with the presidential campaign by joining Educators for Obama.
- Voter Registration Now Online
The Maryland Board of Elections unveiled a new website to make registering to vote easier than ever. Use and share this online voter registration link with members and their families who may need to register for the first time or update their registration status this year. The deadline to register for the November 2012 election is October 15, 2012 (21 days before the election).
Check out the new MSEA Fund PAC organizing page. To engage on the issues that matter most for students, schools, and our profession, we need a strong political voice, and that is exactly what the PAC is for our association. Make sure your voice is heard!