News from Annapolis
2016 Session:  Week 11                             Delegate Trent Kittleman - District 9A
March 20 to March 26
Highlights of Week 11
        • What We've done so far
        • A few of the bills I've voted against . . .
        • . . .and why
        • Budget Bill Update
        • Correction
        • Carroll County Leadership Class visits Annapolis
        • Events: Primary Election Day--April 26.
        • Scholarship Application - Deadline: April 10th

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Action in the House 

What we've done so far


  *  Of the 1644 bills introduced in the House, 547 of them passed out of committee and came to the floor for a vote of the whole House.


  *  100% of those 547 bills  were PASSED by the House.


   *  Of those 547 bills, I voted against 96 of them.

A few of the bills I voted against . . .
* HB 1476 - Creates 
$ 3
MILLION MANDATED ANNUAL SPENDING for the Shelter and Transitional Housing Grant Program.                 [vote]
       Governor Hogan included funds for this program in the  capital  budget, where it belongs, rather than in the operating budget.

* HB 1403 - Creates $ 5 MILLION MANDATED ANNUAL SPENDING to create the Next Generation Scholarship Program.                         [vote]
       This bill  re-establishes the "College Readiness Outreach Program" under a new name.  Since that program was first established in 2002, numerous programs have been created and are doing just what that program is created for.

* HB 1402 - Creates $7.5 MILLION MANDATED ANNUAL SPENDING to fund before and after school and vacation time programs for kids.   [vote]
       Funds can be awarded to public schools and non-profits -- but not non-public schools.  
* HB 1401 - Adds  $7 - 8  MILLION of annual COSTS to the operating budget to keep the Enoch Pratt Free Library open 12 hours/day 7 days/week.  [vote]
          Requires state to fund 80% of the additional funds required to keep the Central Library and relevant branches open the additional hours.  There are 23 branches.
*  HB 1400 -  Creates $5 MILLION MANDATED ANNUAL SPENDING to fund grants to "Anchor Institutions" for community development projects in blighted areas of the State.                                                            [vote]
       An "anchor institution" is either an institution of higher education or a hospital.  The anchor institution must provide matching funds to the State grant.  Bill originally included a $10 million mandate.

*  HB 684 - Creates $12 MILLION MANDATED ANNUAL SPENDING for the "Baltimore Regional Neighborhood Initiative."                     [vote]
       This bill creates a new program to provide funds to encourage "healthy, sustainable communities with a growing tax base and enhanced quality of life.  The program will focus on areas needing "revitalization" in and around Baltimore City.

*  HB 686 - Creates $25 MILLION MANDATED SPENDING for next 3 years to establish the Strategic Demolition & Smart Growth Impact Fund.                                                                                                                 [vote]
       The amount actually starts at $21.5 million in 2017 and increases to $28.5 million in 2019.   Of those totals, all but $3.5 million goes to Baltimore City.

HB 1014 - Creates $15 MILLION MANDATED ANNUAL SPENDING by establishing a State matching contribution to college savings accounts and a refundable tax credit of up to $5,000 for undergraduate student loan debt.                                                                                                                    [vote]
       This bill also requires heavy marketing of the State's College Savings Plan program.

* All of these bills are part of the $290 Million package Speaker Busch and Senate President Miller promoted to help BALTIMORE CITY.
                                                     ...and why.
1.      Nice v. Needed  
           Most of the bills above create new programs that may have intrinsic value, but that are "desirable" as opposed to "necessary."  The practice of creating new programs every time revenues go up is exactly why we wind up in crises that allow the majority  party to say "We MUST RAISE TAXES!"
          Maryland still has financial issues.  The debt service on our bonds is significantly more than the funds specially set aside to pay for it -- primarily because of the bonds Governor O'Malley sold to fund operating costs.  Our pension system is still actuarially underfunded.  And taxpayers are due a TAX DECREASE.  
          This is not the time to be creating huge new programs.

2.    These bills are for Baltimore City -- but will they  help?
          "Leaders agree to $290 Million aid package for Baltimore" , Baltimore Sun, March 17, 2016, p.1.  
          " Taken together, the proposals would cost taxpayers at least $290 million over the next five years.
          "'I t's a step forward to make a great city greater,' said Miller, a Prince George's Democrat. He said " the state can afford it because it has a projected $450 million budget surplus."
           It can be difficult to vote against nice-sounding programs focused on helping a city that is certainly in need of help.  But what kind of help?  For years and years, the State has been pouring money into the Baltimore City schools -- without finding any noticeable improvement!   Today, the City spends $16,578 PER PUPIL - more than any other county in the State other than Worchester
          Teacher salaries are also higher in Baltimore City than in any other jurisdiction in the State  (to the extent comparable).
          The chart to the right shows the minimum and maximum teach salaries for each of the 23 counties and Baltimore City.
          Both the  minimum  salary of $47,950 is the highest in the State. The maximum  salary for any Baltimore City teacher not possessing a Masters or Doctorate degree is $101,814 -- far above the maximum salaries for similarly situated teachers in all of the other jurisdictions.  Only Howard County, at $93,427 comes close to the City salary for teachers with the Standard Professional Certification or with an Advanced Professional Certificate.
Source:  Maryland State Department of Education, Division of curriculum, Assessment, and Accountabiity, "Professional Salary Schedules, Maryland Public Schools, 2014-2015
          Regional neighborhood improvement, community development in blighted areas, strategic demolition and smart growth:these are things that have been tried before.  Where are the studies, where is the data, where is the experience that show such programs will succeed  this  time.  
          The next generation scholarship programs, the before and after school and vacation time programs for kids: what is different about these programs from similar efforts in the past that have failed?
          Expanding the hours of Enoch Pratt Free Library and its branches is a new idea -- but what will motivate kids to  use  these facilities when the schools themselves don't seem to motivate these students?
          MONEY ISN'T ENOUGH!!!  That has been proven over and over.  
          Yet, while committing millions and millions of dollars to programs that have not worked, the legislature refuses to promote and fund the one program that
has worked to help the children of Baltimore City: CHARTER SCHOOLS!
          The Senate passed the Governor's bill to allow businesses to take a tax credit for funds they contribute to institutions for the use of public or private schools.  
          Let's see if the Legislature actually wants to help the kids -- or do they just want to pass programs that "sound good." 
3.     "Mandated" funding.   Because of the following, I have made it a policy to vote against all mandates.  
          The State Constitution gives the Governor the  authority to create the budget and set the total amount of spending for the State.  Years ago, the General Assembly, unhappy at being unable to add funds to the budget, began passing legislation that forced  (mandated) the Governor to include certain funds in the budget.  
          The governor at the time contested this action in court, and the court found the act of creating "mandates" unconstitutional.  So the General assembly changed the Constitution.
          The problem with mandates is that, right now, mandates (along with entitlements) make up 83% of the State budget.  That leaves just 17% for all other State expenditures.  
          Eventually, the will of the legislature to mandate programs and the governor's right to set total spending will come into conflict.  Ultimately, the legislature wil have to create new revenue -- raise taxes or fees -- if they continue to create new, ongoing spending programs that must be funded.  
          What happens when the governor vetoes the tax/fee increase?  What happens if the legislature then has a large enough minority party to prevent a veto override?  What will happens with the budget?
          Without increased revenue, the governor will have to cut the operating budget.  The question is, can he then cut "mandated" spending?  If not, does that mean the governor will have to cut funding for things like police, transit subsidies, road maintenance, and other categories which have not been mandated and are not "entitlements"?
          This year, Governor Hogan introduced a bill to cap funding mandates at their current level.  This would require the legislature to eliminate a mandate in order to create a new mandate.   The legislature has ignored this bill this far.
Budget Bill Update

          The General Assembly approved Governor Hogan's $42 billion operating budget this past week with unusual speed and bipartisan support.  House members from both parties praised the Governor's efforts, and few changes were made by either chamber.
          For the second time in two years, the budget passed without any tax increases and without any need to rob money from "special funds."   

Inside Budget Politics
          Perhaps even more impressive and important, this was the first year  in memory  in which the budget stood on its own, without the need for the annual  BRFA bill.  
          Because Maryland's Constitution requires the State to have a balanced budget, t he "Budget Reconciliation and financing Act" ("BRFA"--pronounced "burfa") exists as a key companion to the budget bill in times of fiscal difficulty.  Apparently, Maryland has been in ongoing fiscal difficulty for many. many years.  
          The BRFA is finalized  after  the budget bill and will shift revenue, raise taxes and fees, strip money from special funds (such as Project Open Space), and can reduce spending mandates or entitlement programs.  These are generally one-time fixes to get the budget  balanced.   One-time "fixes" are what cause a "structural defect," since the funds added to the operating budget are not there the following year. 
          An additional problem with the BRFA is that it opens up opportunities for mischief.   Often being finalized into the late hours of the last day, transparency was almost totally lost, and even measures that had been defeated in bills could be inserted into the BRFA.
In describing the process for considering bills that have been passed in the Senate and sent to the House, I noted that only the sponsor can testify on such bills.  That is true for cross-filed bills, but not for new bills.  New bills are entitled to a full hearing, and anyone who would like to testify is encouraged to do so.
District 9A.

Carroll County
Leadership Carroll spent time in Annapolis this past week and invited the Carroll County Delegation to visit with them at lunch.  We had the opportunity to get a photo of the group on the steps to the second floor in the Statehouse.
Don't forget to VOTE
          Maryland's primary elections will be held on Tuesday, April 26 (with early voting beginning on April 14).  
           Only those affiliated with a political party can vote for President or Congress.
          Independents (unaffiliated) can vote in the important SCHOOL BOARD races!
Scholarship Information
April 10th Deadline.

District 9A residents attending a college, university, trade school or equivalent in the State of Maryland are eligible for the Delegate Scholarship. Current high school seniors and full-time (12+ credits per semester) or part-time (6-11 credits per semester), degree-seeking under-graduate students, graduate students, and students attending a private career school may apply. 
For questions regarding the application process, please call my Annapolis office and ask to speak with   Chelsea Leigh Murphy  at   410-841-3556.  

Please be sure to have your completed application   postmarked by April 10, 2016 .

  Click here  to download the scholarship application for the 2016-2017 academic year.
Delegate Trent Kittleman
District 9A, Western Howard County and Southern Carroll County (Sykesville)
Room 202, Lowe House Office Building
6 Bladen Street,   Annapolis, MD 21401
410-841-3556  *   Trent.Kittleman@House.State.MD.US
Interim Office
3000 Kittleman Lane,  West Friendship, MD 21794
301-661-3344  *
Administrative AideChelsea Leigh Murphy