February 6, 2018 by Ellen Hutton in Blog
As the home to nearly 150,000 federal government employees, Maryland is hit harder than most other states during a government shutdown. Families miss vital paychecks, and past shutdowns were estimated to cost the state as much as $5 million in revenue per day. Fortunately, the recent government shutdown ended after only three days, when Congress passed another short-term spending resolution to fund the federal government through this Thursday, Feb. 8. What happens next depends in part on legislators’ ability to come to a bipartisan agreement on immigration, including a pathway to citizenship for immigrants protected under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The future of DACA has been uncertain since September, when the Justice Department announced an end to the program, as created by an executive order under President Obama, but suggested that Congress create a legislative fix for the program. A federal injunction has temporarily revived the program, allowing…
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January 26, 2018 by MDCEP in Blog, Budget and Tax, Spotlight - Budget and Tax
Last week, Gov. Larry Hogan released his proposed budget for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. As a whole, the governor’s budget maintains the status quo for many core services, without significant new investments that could address unmet needs or move our state forward. As he did last year, the governor attempts to cut back on investment in new priorities the legislature has set in recent years, such as recruiting and retaining good teachers and increasing reimbursement rates for behavioral health providers to ensure people can access mental health and substance use treatment. The legislature will consider the governor’s budget over the coming weeks. While they have some ability to reject proposed cuts in spending that is mandated by state law and move funding around, they cannot add funding to the budget. And whatever they do, the approved budget must be balanced. Pre-K-12 Education State aid to public…
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January 19, 2018 by Shamekka Kuykendall in Blog, Economic Opportunity
Hundreds of thousands of Marylanders will soon be able to earn sick days, thanks to state lawmakers that overturned the governor’s veto. This is a major victory for working Marylanders and for the state, as a growing body of research demonstrates that a healthier workforce leads to greater productivity due to workers recovering faster when they stay at home and reduced spread of illness in the workplace – a good thing for business and the economy. The new law applies to Maryland businesses with 15 or more employees. When it goes into effect in the next few months, employees who currently have no paid leave will be able to earn an hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours they work. As a result, most working Marylanders will be able to earn up to five days of paid sick days a year – and more if their employer opts…
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January 16, 2018 by Kali Schumitz in 2018 Session, Blog, Budget and Tax
Tomorrow is the deadline for Gov. Larry Hogan to propose his budget for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. In the coming weeks, we’ll be breaking down what the budget means for Maryland families. These are some of the big questions we’ll be trying to answer as we dig into the details. How will he balance the budget? In order to make up an anticipated funding shortfall, the governor had to identify at least $300 million in cuts or new revenues to state programs and services. Where we invest our money is the strongest reflection of our state’s priorities, so we’ll be taking a close look at where Gov. Hogan is cutting back and where he’s investing more. After years of cuts and tight budgets, using budget gimmicks to close even a relatively small gap may not be enough. Does the budget leave some Marylanders behind?  Choices about…
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January 10, 2018 by Ellen Hutton in 2018 Session, Blog
Photo by K Whiteford As the 2018 General Assembly session begins today, policymakers will be facing decisions that will have significant consequences for working families in Maryland. Topping the list, lawmakers will strive to protect Marylanders from the negative effects of federal actions, advance priorities that didn’t make it through last year’s session, and begin to address long-term funding needs in education. Here is a quick look at a few of the top issues we’re watching this year. Guaranteeing Earned Sick Leave The Healthy Working Families Act would grant 700,000 the ability to earn sick leave to take care of themselves and family members when they are ill. The Maryland General Assembly passed the bill last year, but Governor Hogan chose to veto it, leaving many Marylanders forced to choose between a paycheck or their health. Overturning the veto will be a top priority for legislators this session, and a…
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December 27, 2017 by Christopher Meyer in Blog, Budget and Tax
The General Assembly committee that makes annual recommendations about the state’s budget made two things clear at its final meeting of the year last Tuesday: The state currently underinvests in the services Marylanders rely on, and the federal government’s budget and tax priorities will make it even harder to make those investments in the future. The committee’s recommendation to take a cautious approach to the state budget for the fiscal year that will begin in July was the right one, for now. Ultimately, if we follow the federal government’s lead and continue to underinvest in Maryland communities, it will do lasting damage to families and our economy. The Spending Affordability Committee meets each fall to assess the state of Maryland’s economy and make recommendations for the budget that must pass during the next legislative session. While these recommendations are not binding, the governor and legislature have almost always followed them.…
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December 21, 2017 by Ellen Hutton in Blog, Economic Opportunity
Thousands of immigrants from El Salvador and Honduras have made their homes in Maryland communities over the last two decades. Many of them are now able to work, go to school, and pay taxes because of a type of legal status called Temporary Protected Status (TPS) – but they face uncertain futures as the Trump administration weighs changes to the nation’s immigration programs. Since its creation in 1990, TPS has served as a form of humanitarian relief, granting work authorization and deferred deportation to immigrants from certain countries experiencing conflict or natural disasters. President Trump recently ended TPS for Haitian and Nicaraguan immigrants and will need to make decisions on whether to extend the program for Honduran and Salvadoran immigrants within the next few months. Many of the immigrants currently living in the U.S. with TPS have been here for more than two decades. They have established lives here, own…
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December 13, 2017 by Ellen Hutton in Blog, Budget and Tax
Evaluations of Maryland business tax credits continue to show that the state’s investments are not working as legislators intended. A recent state-mandated evaluation of the research and development (R&D) tax credit and the biotechnology investment incentive tax credit (BIITC) found no evidence that either tax credit is benefitting Maryland. In addition, this spending comes at the expense of investment into other programs that would more effectively incentivize innovation and investment in technology. The R&D tax credit mainly benefits large corporations The goal of the R&D tax credit is to boost long-term economic growth in Maryland by promoting innovation. However, much more so than tax conditions, the presence of elite research universities and a well-educated, highly skilled workforce is more likely to influence research and innovation. The design of Maryland’s R&D tax credit makes it even less likely to impact innovation in our state. Because it provides tax credits for a…
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December 7, 2017 by Shamekka Kuykendall in Blog, Budget and Tax
In order to have a government that is open, accountable, and responsive to Marylanders’ needs, the state needs adequately staffed government agencies. Right now, many state agencies aren’t functioning at their best because they don’t have enough people to do the work, according to recent analysis by the Department of Legislative Services (DLS), which provides nonpartisan analysis to the General Assembly. The agency’s analysis found that Maryland’s government needs to fill 1,200 existing positions and add nearly 1,300 additional positions in order fulfill its mission. These findings come after a two-year review of Executive Branch staffing needs based on laws, regulations, caseload guidelines, agency staffing studies, and other documentation. These vacancies are not a new problem. Since 2002, the state has abolished almost 7,700 positions at state agencies, not counting higher education positions. Moreover, Maryland’s response to changes in the economy contributes to staffing declines. Cost containment hiring freezes, limited…
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December 1, 2017 by Christopher Meyer in Blog, Economic Opportunity, Health
Each time they get sick or need to care for a sick child, 750,000 working Marylanders are still forced to choose between their health and a day’s pay because they aren’t able to earn paid sick time at work. The Healthy Working Families Act, which the General Assembly passed during its 2017 session, would change that. The bill guarantees half a million workers the chance to earn paid sick and safe time, plus job-protected leave for hundreds of thousands more. However, a veto from Gov. Hogan has put these protections on hold. A new MDCEP report confirms what was already clear: Earned sick days are good for working families, public health, and our economy. When the legislature reconvenes in January, it should act quickly to make the Healthy Working Families Act law. Guaranteeing paid sick days will mean a healthier state for all of us. One in four workers who…
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