Budget negotiations result in long-term investments in schools

And other legislative updates in this week’s Up the Street

One of the MSEA’s legislative priorities, Senate Bill 831, which passed unanimously, and House Bill 1349, which were jointly introduced, would focus on improving salaries for construction professionals. education support.


Budget work leads to long-term master plan funding and bonuses for support professionals

This week, a House and Senate conference committee ironed out differences to arrive at a final budget based on Governor Hogan’s proposed FY23 budget and the five supplemental budgets he submitted. A general fund surplus of $7.5 billion in fiscal years 22 and 23 projected by the Board of Revenue Estimates allowed lawmakers to do more for education and still include more conservative tax cuts than those proposed by the governor.

The House made changes to the Senate budget, Senate Bill 290, but withheld the Senate’s plan to invest $800 million in funding for the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Fund. This is an important step in continuing to fund the historic education plan and ensuring that all students in all schools will continue uninterrupted to benefit from the expanded programs and staffing levels promised by the Master Plan. .

Among Hogan’s proposed tax cuts was one for retirees that would have cost the state about $2.8 billion a year in revenue. In its deliberations, the Senate prioritized preserving future revenue streams that will be needed when the surplus is no longer available. Under the Senate plan, a tax credit of $1,000 for taxpayers age 65 or older, who are not necessarily retired, would apply to single taxpayers with incomes below $100,000 and joint filers with income below $150,000. The Senate amendments reduce the annual revenue loss from the appropriations to $300 million, and they included a contingency clause — as is the case with the Master Plan — to suspend the program if overall revenue drops significantly. significant.

The budget includes proposed tax exemptions for baby diapers and accessories, oral care products and medical equipment at a cost of about $23 million a year. At a cost of approximately $40 million per year, a modified Job Opportunity Tax Credit is proposed to provide employers with a credit for hiring someone who faces certain barriers to employment (persons convicted of a crime, veterans, long-term unemployed and people receiving public assistance). Even taking into account these tax credits and increased program funding, lawmakers are able to set aside in the Rainy Day Fund $69 million more than the fund’s 10% revenue benchmark. general.

In addition to the $800 million for the Master Plan, the additional funding also includes:

  • $220 million for FY22 for Federal Student Meal Grants
  • $4.8 million for FY22 English language assistance
  • $510,000 for an advanced computer science internship

The Supplementary Estimates also allocate $1.4 billion in federal coronavirus relief funds still available for educational purposes:

  • $586 million for ARPA funding for local school systems
  • $139 million in FY22 for pandemic learning recovery through the Maryland Leads Initiative
  • $39 million for ARPA support for non-public schools
  • $37 million for ARPA and CRRSA post-pandemic recovery
  • $25 million for Governor’s Education Emergency Relief Initiatives (GEER)
  • $21 million for FY22 non-public schools
  • $10 million for FY22 Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) initiatives
  • $4.29 million to support virtual learning
  • $4.1 million for the technology under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) funds
  • $1 million for innovative nutrition information technology projects in schools and communities

Advance on payroll for education support professionals

Among the one-time opportunities, the surplus allowed is money to give bonuses to Education Support Professionals (ESPs) this year and next year. Hogan included $8 million to cover about half the cost of one year, but two years of bonuses were proposed in Senate Bill 831, crossed with House Bill 1349. Although the two bills are currently in different forms, both would provide at least a $500 bonus in the 2023-24 school year. The MSEA has made this legislation a priority to address the PSC recruitment and retention crisis. They are essential to the day-to-day running of schools, whether they drive buses, prepare and serve meals, help in the classroom, maintain buildings and technology, keep records and implement pandemic protocols, or the one of the many other essential roles they perform.

Importantly, in addition to the two-year bonuses, the MSEA considered important SB831’s proposed establishment of a task force to explore long-term solutions to the ESP salary gaps and staffing shortages. However, an amended HB1349 passed the House in a 102-34 vote that replaced the task force provision with a report from the Maryland State Department of Education. If the task force element fails this year, the groundwork has still been laid to make a difference to ESP wages and the MSEA will not stop fighting for long-term ESP wage improvements.


Task force reviews pandemic education spending

The sizable federal education funding sent to states during the pandemic was the focus of the comptroller’s task force on pandemic spending on Tuesday. MSEA lobbyist Samantha Zwerling testified to the stress educators continue to face from the pandemic. “Schools opened to everyone in person this fall and educators and students were expected to treat it as normal. It wasn’t and still isn’t,” Zwerling said. “Educators consistently tell us that these are the toughest years of their careers, and many are leaving our schools.” She stressed the importance of working to address inequities, improve communication between districts and prioritize health and safety in school buildings. The task force is tasked with reviewing state and federal coronavirus-related spending.

The redesign of the Congressional District map is progressing rapidly; Applicants may have to manage

Another court case looms over a new map of the congressional district, whose 2020 decennial census count was to be redacted. This week, lawmakers produced and adopted a new map of the congressional district, as demanded by Anne Arundel’s Circuit Court last Friday. The court ruled in favor of Republican-leaning plaintiffs who objected to the congressional district map that was produced by the Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission and approved by the General Assembly in December. However, the attorney general’s office appealed the court’s decision to the Maryland Court of Appeals. Meanwhile, candidates have an April 15 filing deadline approaching and a primary that has already been pushed back to July 19.

Compared to the map approved in December, this week’s map is expected to create more competition in the second, third, fifth and sixth congressional districts and would leave the first district, now held by the state’s only Republican representative, more strongly republican.


Endorsements in the governor, attorney general, and comptroller races

Endorsements for Democrats in the gubernatorial race include House Majority Leader Eric Luedtke (D-Montgomery) and Delegate Terri Hill (D-Howard) for Wes Moore; Delegate Lesley Lopez (D-Montgomery) for Tom Perez; and hospitality, gaming and restaurant workers from Unite Here Local 7 for Rushern Baker.

Endorsements in the Attorney General’s race include Delegate Mike Rogers (D-Anne Arundel) and Unite Here Locals 7, 23 and 25 for Democrat Anthony Brown; and Delegates Eric Ebersole (D-Baltimore County) and Pat Young (D-Baltimore County) for Democrat Katie Curran O’Malley. Maryland’s first statewide elected woman, former Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D), threw her support behind the comptroller’s race, throwing her support behind Delegate Brooke Lierman (D-Baltimore City).

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