Today, is what’s known as “Crossover” day. By the end of tonight’s session, each chamber must send to the other chamber the bills it has passed for them to be able to go through the normal legislative process in the other house. Bills that have not crossed over by tonight are much less likely be passed this legislative session, though it is not impossible.
Below I’ve included some thoughts on activity in the General Assembly and other local information.
Governor Hogan’s budget for next year passed through the Senate late last week. While I don’t agree with everything it contains, this budget continues to make progress towards eliminating long-term structural deficits, it keeps catching up on fixing our state’s underfunded pension system, and sets the stage for income tax relief (see below). This was a very good budget for Carroll County as we were able to preserve a long-overdue $4 million increase in funding for Carroll County schools to help offset our decrease in enrollment as well as $1.2 million in additional “GCEI” funding.
One thing I did not like in the budget was that the Democrat majority took away Governor Hogan’s proposal of $53 million for municipalities and counties for their highway funding – again restoring unfair cuts from the O’Malley years. I offered an amendment to restore this funding to local governments rather than just holding it in the state’s Transportation Trust Fund, but this was rejected despite bi-partisan support, by a vote of 31-16. Despite this, I did vote in favor of the budget and it passed unanimously. It will now move over to the House of Delegates where it is my hope there will be further improvements – including keeping that local road funding.
Tax Relief for Marylanders
The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee has approved a tax relief package that will save Marylanders about $100 million a year when fully implemented. We will be voting on this legislation today on the Senate floor. The dollar amount was based on the total proposed by Governor Hogan’s package of reductions, but also used the Augustine’s Commission’s (a group created to provide recommendations to improve business competitiveness in Maryland). Highlights include lowering excessively high rates to taxpayers with adjusted gross income over $100,000 from 5.76% to 5.6%, and increasing the earned income tax credit so those making less than $50,000 would save about $375 a year. Taxpayers in the middle brackets would get higher personal exemptions – eventually increasing a total of $200.
This is not a giant tax cut but it is an earth-shattering change in philosophy in Annapolis – actually having people keep more of their money to help stimulate the economy. This kind of relief is something I’ve fought for since I was elected to the House of Delegates five years ago. It would not have happened without the election and leadership of Governor Hogan as well as strong support from Republicans in the General Assembly. I look forward to casting my vote in favor today. The uphill battle will likely be in the House of Delegates but our three District 5 delegates (Krebs, Rose, and Shoemaker) strongly support it as well.
Leadership Carroll is now accepting applications for the Class of 2017. Leadership Carroll is cosponsored by the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce and Carroll Community College. Since its debut in 1990, Leadership Carroll has been the premier leadership development program in Carroll County. For more information about the program or to apply, click here.
The deadline to apply for a Senatorial Scholarship is March 31st. To be eligible for a Senatorial Scholarship, you must attend a Maryland college or university, a private career school, or a school out of state that offers a “unique major” not currently found in the Maryland University System. Students may use the Senatorial Scholarship towards undergraduate studies or graduate studies, and may attend full or part-time. For more information or to obtain a scholarship application for please contact Emily Van Horn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keeping you informed is a responsibility that I take seriously and always appreciate your interest and feedback on my updates. Please contact me with any questions or concerns that you have.