Delegate Brian Feldman Reviews 2012 Session

Posted Date: 
April 20, 2012

Delegate Brian Feldman addresses the Legislative Affairs Committee

Vice Chair Josh Bokee, Comcast, welcomed the committee and Delegate Brian Feldman. Delegate Feldman reviewed legislation that passed in the recent session of the Maryland General Assembly. He also discussed the States ongoing budget issues.

Delegate Feldman said that Maryland is one of only eight states that maintain a triple-a bond rating. Additionally, Maryland's unemployment rate performs better than the rest of the United States. Maryland also has the number one ranked schools. The State also rates number one in per-capita wealth and per-capita millionaires. He spoke about how only a few places in the country have seen their housing market begins to show signs of improvement, one of those places is Maryland. While negotiations over the budget remain unresolved, Maryland still has many assets compared other States.

During the session, Delegate Feldman discussed capital projects secured by the Montgomery County Delegation. Those items include about $65 million in capital dollars for schools and projects at the Universities at Shady Grove and Montgomery College.

Most of Maryland's revenue comes from the sales tax and income tax. 50% of the State budget spending goes to education. Other significant expenditures are in public safety and healthcare, which together with education equals 80% of annual spending by the State. 40% of the budget is aid to local government, which impacts Montgomery County because it is the largest County. The Governor had to propose revenue increases to close about a $1 billion gap. In order to bring the budget into balance, the Governor had to find other ways to raise revenue.

Furthermore, the State grappled with a large increase in teacher pensions over the last 10 years. The State pushed sharing that burden with local governments more equitably. There was a lot of push back for local governments over this issue. Additionally there was controversy over gambling, same-sex marriage, and education issues related to a review of the Maintenance of Effort law.

As a result of the lack of an agreement on the budget, the State faces $512 million in cuts. Delegate Feldman provided a list of cuts that would kick-in if the State does not take further action on the budget in a Special Session. Delegate Feldman also said that the State government budget is out of balance by about $50 million. The Board of Public Works, composed of the Governor, Treasurer, and Comptroller, can take action to make cuts to keep the budget in balance. Also, local governments cannot plan their budget without knowledge of the amount of revenue they will receive from the State.

Delegate Feldman discussed the desperate need for finding for transportation. Raising the gas tax was not taken up although it is needed. In a possible Special Session, more will need to be done than raise taxes in order for it to be palatable for legislators. The governor will not call a special session without the votes lined up. Still, the Special session could also be used to address some of our infrastructure challenges.

Delegate Feldman fielded questions from the committee on a variety of topics including the political dynamics of the legislature and healthcare policy.

Tagged in:

MCCC Strategic Partners