Reznik Report from Annapolis – Week 3 Update

February 2, 2019

The Budget

We officially received the proposed budget this week from Governor Hogan. The Governor’s budget has a total of $46.6 Billion in total spending, which is an $1.8 billion increase over last year, and the second highest general fund growth in 12 years.
Per Maryland’s Constitution, the Maryland Governor has the strongest budget authority in the country. We in the legislature can’t add or move around any money to the operating budget, only cut from his proposal. Unlike the Federal Government, the General Assembly is constitutionally required to pass a balanced budget.

The Good

Hogan’s budget fully funds all statutorily required priorities. This includes almost $7 billion for education and $11.5 billion for Medicaid. For the first time in 4 years, all state employees are getting a 3% COLA (cost of living adjustment).

The Bad

Despite the COLA adjustment, we’re 4 years behind in any salary increases for state employees, and there’s been no attempt to provide additional salary increases to make them whole compared to inflation.
The Governor provided for no funding for returning the State Employees Retirement Prescription Drug Program from Medicare Part D. The change in coverage was linked to the Federal Government closing the Medicare Part D donut hole, and the Governor made a big deal about this on the campaign trail, though it hasn’t materialized in his proposed budget.
Governor Hogan also held back on additional education increases as part of the Bridge to Kirwan funding initiative.
Despite fully funding everything, we’ve been left with a $62 Million deficit that we in the legislature, will have to find cuts for, and there was nothing to address the potential one billion dollar deficit that we are facing next year. This very well may be even larger because with economic models predicted a coming recession in the next nine to twelve months.

My continued legislative agenda

This week I “dropped” two more bills, this time related to elections.
Election Day Voter Registration Implementation. The first is a bill to implement the Same Day Voter Registration initiative that I was finally able to get through the legislature last year, and which was approved all the voters of Maryland during the November General Election by a whopping 68%. Now that we’ve gotten this far, we need to codify how it’ll all work out in a practice.
Postage-Free Absentee Ballots. Fewer and fewer people actually carry stamps on their person nowadays, and to require somebody to pay to mail in their ballot, when we don’t charge to vote in person, essentially amounts to a poll tax. The 24th amendment banned that back in 1964. With my bill, if someone wants to put stamps on their absentee ballot and save the Boards of Elections a dollar, they can, and if they don’t have stamps, forget to put one on, or don’t provide enough postage, the local boards of election will cover the cost.

District 39 News

Continued federal government shutdown

Today there was good news that Congress and the President have come to an temporary agreement to re-open government for three weeks. There are still many issues to work and we don’t know what will happen three weeks from now.
Last week I shared a number of resources available to furloughed employees, and this week, I wanted to share one more:
Housing Initiative Partnership (HIP) is a HUD-approved housing counseling agency located in Germantown which provides a full continuum of housing counseling and financial capability services. Their housing counselors are available, free of charge, to help clients work with their mortgage providers and landlords; address credit, debt, and savings concerns; and connect with necessary resources during this time of financial hardship.

February is American Heart Month

This February CVSHealth is offering no-cost heart health screenings
at its MinuteClinic locations to help you learn your risk for heart disease. You can find a location near you by CLICKING HERE

 

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