Friday, April 29, 2011

Referendum Time!

From the Maryland Daily Record
Tea party'ers across Maryland are saying the referendum effort to repeal newly passed legislation allowing illegal immigrants to receive in-state college tuition rates is exactly the fight they’ve been waiting for.

“There’s no question we are going to be involved,” said Potomac tea party blogger Ann Corcoran. “And it goes beyond the in-state issue. This is an opportunity to broaden our reach to Democrats, independents and those who see this as a fairness issue, and we see this as a fabulous opportunity to organize conservatives across the state of Maryland in preparation for 2012.”

The referendum drive has been spearheaded by Del. Neil Parrott, R-Washington, a former Hagerstown tea party leader. Parrott and Del. Pat McDonough, R-Baltimore and Harford, say they plan to collect the 55,736 signatures needed by June 30.

Much like the structure of the national tea party, there is no single leader or group in charge of the referendum efforts in Maryland. There are at least 30 identifiable Maryland tea party groups representing thousands of members across the state.

One of the larger groups participating in the referendum process, Maryland Society of Patriots, has more than 1,700 Facebook followers and about 1,000 email addresses of people from Montgomery County, Baltimore County and the Eastern Shore.

“We are planning on aiding as much as we can in the referendum effort,” said founder Sam Hale. “We are planning on holding a meeting in Montgomery County on May 5 to rejuvenate and reorganize our activists.”

Dave Wallace, an organizer for Restore America’s Mission, has helped bus hundreds of Marylanders to tea party events in Washington. His group, which has about 700 “activists,” will also help to collect signatures for the referendum.

“It’s a responsibility that government not go and help finance lawbreakers, and that’s exactly what this is,” Wallace said. “This is the wrong direction,”

The Department of Legislative Services estimated the tuition discounts will cost taxpayers $750,000 in 2014 and increase to $3.5 million by 2016. But the cost could be significantly higher than that since it is based only on the experience of Montgomery College.

While dozens of tea party groups across the state are gearing up for the signature drive, the Republican Party has taken a less aggressive stance. Maryland GOP spokesman Ryan Mahoney said the party will not take a lead role in the signature collection drive.

“This is an effort that is going to be led by Del. Parrott,” Mahoney said. “It’s bigger than any one political party, but with any legislation that’s damaging to Maryland taxpayers, the Republican party is here to provide logistical support and resources to insure Maryland has laws that are moving us in the right direction, not backward.”

Americans for Prosperity, a national conservative group that helped organize some initial tea party events in Maryland, will have no role.

McDonough told Fox 45 TV he may pursue legal action against the Maryland State Board of Elections for delaying the approval of signature petition language. Final petition language was approved April 21, eight days after it was first filed by Parrott.

State elections board spokeswoman Donna Duncan said the bill summary text was originally ruled insufficient by Assistant Attorney General Jeff Darsie, and the board fully complied with its requirements during the approval process.

The state board of elections has five business days from the time it receives an application request to make a determination, and an additional two business days to notify the sponsor of its response, Duncan said, quoting from the election law handbook.

Whether the signatures collected prior to the April 21 petition approval will be counted is another story. Duncan said it would be depend on what was on the back of the petition. It is supposed to include “the full text of the Act; or a fair and accurate summary of the substantive provisions of the Act, which has been approved by the Attorney General,” according to the election board regulations.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” Duncan said.

The in-state tuition bill was originally scheduled to be signed on Monday by Gov. Martin O’Malley, but due to the funeral for former Gov. William Donald Schaefer, the signing was delayed and is now expected to take place May 10. Undocumented high school graduates would be eligible to receive the tuition discount at community colleges beginning next fall.

One of the bills lead sponsors, Sen. Roger Manno, D-Montgomery, criticized the repeal efforts.

“The referendum to overturn the bill is a distraction from the major challenges facing the state — namely, getting people back to work, fixing the budget, and maintaining our investments in providing the best K-12 education in the nation,” Manno said. “This referendum effort could cost taxpayers millions of dollars.”

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Democrats in Massachusetts Throw the Public Unions Under the Bus?

from the Boston Globe
House lawmakers (in Massachusettes) voted overwhelmingly last night to strip police officers, teachers, and other municipal employees of most of their rights to bargain over health care, saying the change would save millions of dollars for financially strapped cities and towns.
The 111-to-42 vote followed tougher measures to broadly eliminate collective bargaining rights for public employees in Ohio, Wisconsin, and other states. But unlike those efforts, the push in Massachusetts was led by Democrats who have traditionally stood with labor to oppose any reduction in workers’ rights.

Unions fought hard to stop the bill, launching a radio ad that assailed the plan and warning legislators that if they voted for the measure, they could lose their union backing in the next election. After the vote, labor leaders accused House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo and other Democrats of turning their backs on public employees.

“It’s pretty stunning,’’ said Robert J. Haynes, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO. “These are the same Democrats that all these labor unions elected. The same Democrats who we contributed to in their campaigns. The same Democrats who tell us over and over again that they’re with us, that they believe in collective bargaining, that they believe in unions. . . . It’s a done deal for our relationship with the people inside that chamber.’’

“We are going to fight this thing to the bitter end,’’ he added. “Massachusetts is not the place that takes collective bargaining away from public employees.’’

The battle now turns to the Senate, where President Therese Murray has indicated that she is reluctant to strip workers of their right to bargain over their health care plans.

DeLeo said the House measure would save $100 million for cities and towns in the upcoming budget year, helping them avoid layoffs and reductions in services. He called his plan one of the most significant reforms the state can adopt to help control escalating health care costs.

“By spending less on the health care costs of municipal employees, our cities and towns will be able to retain jobs and allot more funding to necessary services like education and public safety,’’ he said in a statement.

Last night, as union leaders lobbied against the plan, DeLeo offered two concessions intended to shore up support from wavering legislators.

The first concession gives public employees 30 days to discuss changes to their health plans with local officials, instead of allowing the officials to act without any input from union members. But local officials would still, at the end of that period, be able to impose their changes unilaterally.

The second concession gives union members 20 percent of the savings from any health care changes for one year, if the unions object to changes imposed by local officials. The original bill gave the unions 10 percent of the savings for one year.

The modifications bring the House bill closer to a plan introduced by Governor Deval Patrick in January. The governor, like Murray, has said he wants workers to have some say in altering their health plans, but does not want unions to have the power to block changes.

But union leaders said that even with the last-minute concessions, the bill was an assault on workers’ rights, unthinkable in a state that has long been a bastion of union support. Some Democrats accused DeLeo of following the lead of Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin and other Republicans who have targeted public employee benefits. “In the bigger world out there, this fits into a very bad movement to disempower labor unions,’’ said Representative Denise Provost, a Somerville Democrat who opposed the bill.

Under the legislation, mayors and other local officials would be given unfettered authority to set copayments and deductibles for their employees, after the 30-day discussion period with unions. Only the share of premiums paid by employees would remain on the health care bargaining table.

Geoff Beckwith, executive director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, said that, even if the bill becomes law, municipal workers would still have more bargaining power over their health care plans than state employees. “It’s a fair, balanced, strong, effective and meaningful reform,’’ he said.

Unions lobbied to derail the speaker’s plan in favor of a labor-backed proposal that would preserve collective bargaining, and would let an arbitrator decide changes to employee health plans if local officials and unions deadlock after 45 days. Labor leaders initially persuaded 50 lawmakers, including six members of DeLeo’s leadership team, to back their plan last week. But DeLeo peeled off some of the labor support in the final vote.

Representative Martin J. Walsh, a Dorchester Democrat who is secretary-treasurer of the Boston Building Trades Council, led the fight against the speaker’s plan. In a speech that was more wistful than angry, he recalled growing up in a union household that had health care benefits generous enough to help him overcome cancer in 1974. He said collective bargaining rights helped build the middle class.

“Municipal workers aren’t the bad guys here,’’ he said. “They’re not the ones who caused the financial crisis. Banks and investment companies got a slap on the wrist for their wrongdoing, but public employees are losing their benefits.’’

The timing of the vote was significant. Union leaders plan today to unleash a major lobbying blitz with police officers, firefighters, and other workers flooding the State House. Taking the vote last night at 11:30 allowed lawmakers to avoid a potentially tense confrontation with those workers, and vote when the marble halls of the House were all but empty.
This is all a DNC sponsored ploy to turn out the base. There isn't a snowballs chance in Hell that this could pass the Massachusetts state Senate. Idiotic union members will still likely be turning out in droves in 2012, but will they pull the levers for Democrats once they realize that this was all a ploy orchestrated by Democrats to begin with? You can bet your sweet *ss they will.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Taxing the Rich so that Illegals Can Pay Less

from the Washington Examiner
Allowing Maryland's illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition to attend the state's public universities is expected to cost at least $3.5 million in five years.

Fiscal analysts expect that expense to grow annually, though, as more students become eligible for the lower rates. But they don't know how much since it's so difficult to track illegal immigrants.

Budget analysts estimate the measure will cost nearly $1 million by fiscal 2014, the year the state will begin contributing tuition money to illegal immigrants who enroll in a community college in fall 2011.

The estimate assumes roughly 370 undocumented students will enroll, costing the state at least $778,400 in fiscal 2014.

Some lawmakers say the cost estimates are too low, however, with census figures estimating that at least 300,000 illegal immigrants live in Maryland.

The state pays about $2,100 for every community college student who qualifies for in-state tuition. Community college tuition is two to three times less expensive for in-state students.

But the costs don't end there.

Illegal immigrants can transfer to a four-year university and pay in-state rates if they have completed two years at a community college, under the law passed by the Maryland General Assembly and expected to be signed by Gov. Martin O'Malley.

Lawmakers passed a last-minute amendment to ensure that Maryland citizens

will not have to compete with undocumented students for in-state slots. Therefore, out-of-state students -- who drive tuition revenues by paying much higher rates -- will be competing with undocumented students.

The difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition rates at Maryland's four-year universities averages more than $10,000 for a single semester, with the gap about $8,200 at the University of Maryland.

Universities will be forced to adjust their enrollment numbers to account for the loss in tuition revenues, analysts say.

If roughly 50 undocumented students transfer to the University of Maryland under the new law, the school would lose roughly $820,800 in tuition revenues for a single year without adjusting enrollment numbers.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle voiced skepticism over the murky cost estimates up until the bill was passed fewer than four hours before the end of the 2011 legislative session.

"We would love to have these people educated but ... the issue is who pays for it," said Sen. David R. Brinkley, R-Carroll and Frederick counties. "It either comes from the taxpayer or it comes from other students at the school because it gets passed along in the form of fees."

Meanwhile, a conservative lawmaker is trying to muster up the support to bring a lawsuit against the Maryland legislation.

Del. Pat McDonough, R-Baltimore County, says he is talking to two "major national legal foundations" about overturning the law.

"Maryland has become a Disneyland for illegal immigrants, providing attraction and free rides and is costing taxpayers billions of dollars," McDonough said. "The in-state tuition act will make things much worse, attracting more illegal immigrants."

But the legal precedents aren't promising for McDonough, less than a year after California's Supreme Court upheld a similar state law.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Where the Tax Money REALLY is

In 2008, there was about $5.65 trillion in total taxable income from all individual taxpayers.from CNN Money
The fastest way to make the tax-averse incensed is to tell them that nearly half of U.S. households end up owing no federal income tax when all is said and done.

But like most statistics, it is often misunderstood -- and, in the case of those trying to stir political outrage, misrepresented.

For tax year 2010, roughly 45% of households, or about 69 million, will end up owing nothing in federal income tax, according to estimates by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. Some in that group will even end up getting paid money from the federal government.

That does not mean such households end up paying no taxes whatsoever. For instance, those in the group still pay other taxes such as state and local income taxes, as well as property and sales taxes.

And the group doesn't necessarily get off scot-free when it comes to payroll taxes -- which support Social Security and Medicare.

More than two-thirds -- or 49 million of the 69 million households -- pay payroll tax. Of those, 34 million end up paying more in payroll taxes than they get back on their federal return. The other 15 million pay payroll tax but they get enough refundable credits to offset what they paid. (Get a 'receipt' for your taxes)

Contrary to what many assume, membership in the group isn't restricted to the poor.

It's true that the vast majority of the 69 million households make less than $50,000 -- with very heavy representation among households making less than $30,000.

But nearly 5 million households in the group make somewhere between $50,000 and more than $1 million.

Very high-income households can fall into the non-payer group if they get their income from tax-exempt bonds or overseas sources for which they get foreign tax credits, according to Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center.

How did we get here?

The ranks of those whose federal income tax burden nets out to zero -- or less -- have grown in recent years for two reasons.

The first is temporal.

The downturn in the economy has hurt household incomes and various stimulus bills offered Americans temporary tax breaks to mitigate the economic pain -- thereby further reducing their tax bills.

The second is more systemic.

The tax code is filled with hundreds of tax breaks to encourage economic activities the government favors, tax experts say. For instance, the law offers credits to supplement the wages of low-income workers, help families pay for college and encourage them to buy homes and have children.

Temporary tax policies, such as the Bush-era tax cuts and the tax breaks passed under President Obama, have also increased the ranks of the non-payers.

If most tax breaks were removed, the Tax Policy Center estimates, the percentage of households with no federal income tax liability would drop to 27% from 45%.

Why the tax-free matter

The question of who pays and who doesn't is not a trivial matter. And Washington policymakers may soon start to deal with the issue in a more explicit way as the national debate over how to rein in future deficits kicks into high gear.

Obama's bipartisan debt commission, for instance, has recommended that reforming the tax code can help not only with deficit reduction but with creating a simpler, more modern, and economically efficient tax system. (Take CNNMoney's debt quiz)

Since the hundreds of tax breaks on the books reduce federal revenue by an estimated $1.1 trillion every year, the debt panel suggested eliminating most if not all of the credits, deductions and personal exemptions, and use the newfound revenue to do two things: pay for lower income tax rates and help reduce deficits.

Generating bipartisan support for tax reform is easy. But getting to "yes" on the details and figuring out who should pay more, less or nothing at all will be a much tougher fight.

But it's a fight lawmakers are gearing up to have.

Trillions in DNC Political Ponzie Scheme Promises Exposed

from the Harford County Dagger

From the office of Rep. Andy Harris:
Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Andy Harris stopped a $12 trillion tax hike from being levied on American families and businesses by rejecting the liberal budget alternative proposed on the floor of the House of Representatives. Instead, Rep. Harris supported the House Majority budget, which will save Medicare and build an environment for long-term job creation. The House Majority plan will cut $6.2 trillion in spending over the next decade and begin to solve our fiscal crisis.

“Building an environment for job creation is my top priority,” said Rep. Andy Harris. “That’s why I voted to stop $12 trillion in job-destroying tax hikes on American families and businesses and supported the House Majority budget, which would save Medicare and begin to get our fiscal house in order. President Obama’s plan, which would try to tax our way out of the problem, and the various proposals introduced by liberals in Congress, would destroy jobs and ration health care for the most vulnerable among us – our seniors.”

Chairman Ryan’s plan keeps our promise to America’s seniors and those near retirement by protecting their health care plan. Currently, Medicare spending is growing twice as fast as the American economy. If left unchanged, as in President Obama’s plan, Medicare will go bankrupt in nine years. The $12 trillion in tax hikes were part of the budget presented by the Progressive Caucus, which Rep. Harris opposed.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Beware of Easter-time Santa Clause's, Especially if YOU have to send them a Check! ;)

from the Harford County Dagger

From the Harford Campaign for Liberty:

LiberTea Party Alert!

Bring your kids and grandkids!

Join your Harford Campaign for Liberty for a LiberTEA festival this TAX DAY Friday, April 15, 2011 at 5PM at 212 S Bond Street in Bel Air!

April 15, 2011 marks the two-year anniversary of our Tax Day Tea Parties in Bel Air and Havre de Grace: join us again!

Join us for a kid-friendly festival on Friday, April 15 at 212 S. Bond Street.

This event is different from any TEA PARTY or Rally you have attended! Everyone is welcome!

The Harford County Campaign for Liberty is hosting a LiberTEA Festival on Tax Day – April 15, 2011 at 5:00PM until 7:00PM. The event will be held at the County Council Chambers office building located at 212 S Bond Street in Bel Air, MD.

This event is the 2-year anniversary of the unofficial kickoff of the Liberty movement across the United States. On April 15, 2009, more than 300 citizens and taxpayers stood in unity against big government spending and growth in the pouring rain in both Havre de Grace and Bel Air.

The name of this festival, LiberTEA, is a play on the words Liberty and TEA Party. The Liberty movement has been very influential in the past 2 years, prompting a huge flip in the US House of Representatives in the 2010 election and a growing conservative involvement in politics nationwide.

The office building at 212 S Bond Street is known as the “Black Box” and the property recently has been condemned by the County Government, prompting Harford County to plan to spend tens of millions of dollars on a new office building in Bel Air.

The LiberTEA Festival will include several patriotic skits and speeches on stage followed by a child-friendly carnival. Hosted by members of the grassroots organization, Campaign for Liberty, there will be games and entertaining educational activities for kids and adults to teach about the role of government. It is an all-ages event, and all supervised kids and grandchildren are welcome.

A couple exciting parts of this event will include:

- A skit about the difference between “government Santa” and the “real Santa” (or the difference between government spending and charity)

- A festival-type atmosphere with tables and booths for adults and kids to learn about our Government and our country

- A “cut the pork” demonstration.

Bring your families to learn about American history, American exceptionalism, and let’s teach a new generation about what it means to be free!

Campaign for Liberty’s mission is to promote and defend the great American principles of individual liberty, constitutional government, sound money, free markets, and a non-interventionist foreign policy, by means of educational and political activity. Harford Campaign for Liberty meets every 4th Tuesday of the month at the Forest Hill Knights of Columbus Hall at 7PM.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Harford County has a $23M Hole in their Education Budget

from the Harford County Dagger

Last Monday, the members of the Harford County Board of Education got word that their requested operating budget for next year would be under-funded by a total of $23,459,597 from state, local and other sources combined. This Monday, board members will decide what to do about it.

In a special meeting called to revise the FY12 operating budget, board members will consider amendments and vote on a recommended budget to be submitted to the Harford County Council later in the week, during work sessions planned by the council to discuss the budgets for county departments and outside agencies, including the public school system.

Below is the published agenda for the April 11, 2011 meeting of the Harford County Board of Education.

Published agendas are subject to change:
MONDAY, APRIL 11, 2011
102 S. Hickory Avenue, Bel Air, MD 21014

Board Open Session – 6:00 P.M. – Board Room
Board Closed Session – 6:05 P.M. Board Executive Conference Room
Board Business Meeting – 7:00 P.M. – Board Room

7:00 P.M. Call to Order – Mark M. Wolkow, President
Quorum Roll Call
Adoption of Agenda
Pledge of Allegiance

*7:05 P.M. Public Comment

*7:15 P.M. Board Committee Reports and Comments

Old Business
Action Item(s):

*7:30 P.M. A. Decision on Revised FY 2012 HCPS Operating Budget

New Business

*8:00 P.M. B. Superintendent’s Report

Future Meetings Review

*Times are approximate
Update 4/12 - In the end the budget recommended by the Superintendent was approved as submitted. Mr. Frisch was the only school board member to offer any amendments in an attempt to save money but all were defeated. Interesting was that even though none of the amendments passed the budget was only approved on a 4 (Wolkow, Wheeler, Evans, Krchnavy) to 3 (Frisch, Grambo, Osman) vote. At would appear that things are changing on the school board and there may be a healthy move away from what has been business as usual. I think the elected members are making their presence felt.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

More Propaganda from the Whine & Cheese Party

from the Harford County Dagger
The following public comments were made to the Harford County Board of Education by Randy Cerveny, president of the Harford County Education Association. A copy was provided to The Dagger for publication:

President Wolkow, members of the BOE and Superintendent Tomback, I am Randy Cerveny the president of HCEA, I’m speaking on behalf of our teachers.

I don’t believe many in Harford County were surprised Friday when Executive Craig released his county budget, but educators were extremely disappointed and frustrated by his action. HCEA and other bargaining units negotiated their 2011-12 agreement, with the BOE in good faith. We understand that should funds not be available from the county, we have to return to negotiations. That’s the way it works in MD. You can understand why teachers feel like they have been slapped in the face again. Teachers have suffered 2 years without any financial increases and reduced benefits. Then to add to our misery and frustrations, earlier today the State conference committee that resolves the Maryland budget voted. They plan to increase pension contributions by 2% for all educators and reduce benefits for future teachers. This mean all teachers will take a 2% pay reduction next year.

We are aware that Harford County is not isolated from the challenging financial times. As board members, you are in a position to make teachers feel honored to be part of Harford County Public schools. Do what is right for our educators. To do this, all portions of your budget will suffer cuts. Make those cuts to areas that have the least impact on the staff, and that honor the students we serve. These cuts must have the least impact on student achievement. Harford’s Educators have continued to rise to the occasion of increased challenges and demands on their jobs Regardless of what happens now, you must determine a way for your educators to feel valued. We need your help. We are willing to work with you to find ways to respect Harford County Educators. Even in these tough times it does come down to money. Don’t put these cuts on the backs of the teachers.
Despite their acknowledgements to the contrary, I guess the teachers hadn't heard that we've been in a recession for the past two years, and if they were employed in the private sector, they'd be doing a LOT worse. The slap in the face is to the county residents who have for decades over-fund the Maryland Department of Education despite declining enrollments.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

MD Legislature Rewards O'Malley Plan w/ it's Own Form of Windage

from the Baltimore Sun
The General Assembly is giving the "study" treatment to another of Gov. Martin O'Malley's major environmental policies. Offshore wind farms will join a septic system prohibition in summer school, our colleagues at B'More Green are reporting.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Thomas M. Middleton said his committee this afternoon determined they would stop working on the bill and move on to other matters. The panel will not vote on the bill. "There is a lot more work to go into this if we are going to fully understand the impact," Middleton said.

From the blog entry:

Legislation aimed at boosting offshore wind development in Maryland has been tabled for further study amid lawmakers' concerns about the cost to consumers, according to Shaun Adamec, Gov. Martin O'Malley's press secretary.

O'Malley's spokesman said the setback was "not unexpected," given the debate and persistent questions being raised about the governor's bill, HB1054/SB861, which would have required Maryland utilities sign long-term contracts to buy power from offshore wind projects.

With just five days to go, the measure had yet to clear committees in either chamber of the General Assembly. The House Economic Matters committee had been scheduled to vote on it today, and the Senate Finance Committee just recently formed a work group to study the bill.

Adamec said the governor realized when he introduced the bill that offshore wind energy is such a new and complicated concept that it may take more than one year for legislators to endorse subsidizing it. The governor is committed to working with lawmakers on the study, his spokesman said.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

More DNC Payoffs to Non-Citizens for Future Votes

from the Baltimore Sun
A controversial plan to allow undocumented immigrants to pay in-state college tuition rates is on track for passage this year, with a vote this afternoon to send the bill for debate in the full House of Delegates.

The House Ways and Means Committee approved the bill on a party-line vote of 14-7 (see jump). Del. Jon Cardin, a Baltimore County Democrat, abstained from voting, citing concerns about how the measure could impact the beleaguered state budget.

Under the proposal, illegal immigrants who attended at least three years of high school in Maryland, and whose parents have paid the state taxes, would qualify for in-state tuition rates at community colleges. After two years, they could transfer to four-year institutions and continue to pay residential rates.

The House plan makes several changes to what the Senate approved last month. Men would have to sign up for selective service, as all qualified 18-year-old males do, and the undocumented students would be counted as out-of-state students for admission purposes to avoid displacing other Maryland residents.

Lawmakers shared teary, personal stories before the committee voted -- a preview of what could be one more lengthy and emotional floor debate in the quickly waning session, which ends at midnight Monday.

Del. Justin Ross, chief deputy majority whip, predicted the tuition bill will gain final passage.

"We're optimistic that we have the votes," said the Prince George's County Democrat, who supports the bill and is a Ways and Means member. "Otherwise, we wouldn't have voted it out of committee."

Republicans raised numerous concerns at today's hearing.

"We're investing taxpayer dollars in people who may not ever legally be able to work in our state," said Del. Kathy Afzali, a Frederick County Republican.

Del. Andrew Serafini said higher education is not a "right."

"This is the land of opportunity, not the land of entitlement," the Washington County Republican said.

Voting yes
Del. Sandy Rosenberg, Baltimore Democrat
Del. Kumar Barve, Montgomery County Democrat
Del. Talmadge Branch, Baltimore Democrat
Del. Bill Frick, Montgomery County Democrat
Del. Carolyn Howard, Prince George's County Democrat
Del. Jolene Ivey, Prince George's County Democrat
Del. Anne Kaiser, Montgomery County Democrat
Del. Eric Luedtke, Montgomery County Democrat
Del. Aruna Miller, Montgomery County Democrat
Del. Justin Ross, Prince George's County Democrat
Del. Melvin Stukes, Baltimore Democrat
Del. Michael Summers, Prince George's County Democrat
Del. Frank Turner, Howard County Democrat
Del. Jay Walker, Prince George's County Democrat

Voting no
Del. Kathy Afzali, Frederick County Republican
Del. Joseph Boteler, Baltimore County Republican
Del. Mark Fisher, Southern Maryland Republican
Del. Ron George, Anne Arundel County Republican
Del. Glen Glass, Cecil and Harford counties Republican
Del. LeRoy Myers, Western Maryland Republican
Del. Andrew Serafini, Washington County Republican

Del. Jon Cardin, Baltimore County Democrat

* Del. Sheila Hixson, Montgomery County Democrat, is chairwoman and did not vote, as is customary. However, she sponsored the House version of the bill.
Update 4/8. In-State tuition plan for Illegals passes in the MD House of Delegates.

Update 4/11. The Senate rejects the House version of the bill and Republicans begin a filibuster...???

Update 4/12 - And the Measure passes and is sent to the Governator for signature.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

America's Last Best Chance to Achieve Lasting Economic Success

Congress is currently embroiled in a funding fight over how much to spend on less than one-fifth of the federal budget for the next six months. Whether we cut $33 billion or $61 billion—that is, whether we shave 2% or 4% off of this year's deficit—is important. It's a sign that the election did in fact change the debate in Washington from how much we should spend to how much spending we should cut.

But this morning the new House Republican majority will introduce a budget that moves the debate from billions in spending cuts to trillions. America is facing a defining moment. The threat posed by our monumental debt will damage our country in profound ways, unless we act.

No one person or party is responsible for the looming crisis. Yet the facts are clear: Since President Obama took office, our problems have gotten worse. Major spending increases have failed to deliver promised jobs. The safety net for the poor is coming apart at the seams. Government health and retirement programs are growing at unsustainable rates. The new health-care law is a fiscal train wreck. And a complex, inefficient tax code is holding back American families and businesses.

The president's recent budget proposal would accelerate America's descent into a debt crisis. It doubles debt held by the public by the end of his first term and triples it by 2021. It imposes $1.5 trillion in new taxes, with spending that never falls below 23% of the economy. His budget permanently enlarges the size of government. It offers no reforms to save government health and retirement programs, and no leadership.

Our budget, which we call The Path to Prosperity, is very different. For starters, it cuts $6.2 trillion in spending from the president's budget over the next 10 years, reduces the debt as a percentage of the economy, and puts the nation on a path to actually pay off our national debt. Our proposal brings federal spending to below 20% of gross domestic product (GDP), consistent with the postwar average, and reduces deficits by $4.4 trillion.

A study just released by the Heritage Center for Data Analysis projects that The Path to Prosperity will help create nearly one million new private-sector jobs next year, bring the unemployment rate down to 4% by 2015, and result in 2.5 million additional private-sector jobs in the last year of the decade. It spurs economic growth, with $1.5 trillion in additional real GDP over the decade. According to Heritage's analysis, it would result in $1.1 trillion in higher wages and an average of $1,000 in additional family income each year.

Here are its major components:

• Reducing spending: This budget proposes to bring spending on domestic government agencies to below 2008 levels, and it freezes this category of spending for five years. The savings proposals are numerous, and include reforming agricultural subsidies, shrinking the federal work force through a sensible attrition policy, and accepting Defense Secretary Robert Gates's plan to target inefficiencies at the Pentagon.

• Welfare reform: This budget will build upon the historic welfare reforms of the late 1990s by converting the federal share of Medicaid spending into a block grant that lets states create a range of options and gives Medicaid patients access to better care. It proposes similar reforms to the food-stamp program, ending the flawed incentive structure that rewards states for adding to the rolls. Finally, this budget recognizes that the best welfare program is one that ends with a job—it consolidates dozens of duplicative job-training programs into more accessible, accountable career scholarships that will better serve people looking for work.

As we strengthen and improve welfare programs for those who need them, we eliminate welfare for those who don't. Our budget targets corporate welfare, starting by ending the conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that is costing taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars. It gets rid of the permanent Wall Street bailout authority that Congress created last year. And it rolls back expensive handouts for uncompetitive sources of energy, calling instead for a free and open marketplace for energy development, innovation and exploration.

• Health and retirement security: This budget's reforms will protect health and retirement security. This starts with saving Medicare. The open-ended, blank-check nature of the Medicare subsidy threatens the solvency of this critical program and creates inexcusable levels of waste. This budget takes action where others have ducked. But because government should not force people to reorganize their lives, its reforms will not affect those in or near retirement in any way.

Starting in 2022, new Medicare beneficiaries will be enrolled in the same kind of health-care program that members of Congress enjoy. Future Medicare recipients will be able to choose a plan that works best for them from a list of guaranteed coverage options. This is not a voucher program but rather a premium-support model. A Medicare premium-support payment would be paid, by Medicare, to the plan chosen by the beneficiary, subsidizing its cost.

In addition, Medicare will provide increased assistance for lower- income beneficiaries and those with greater health risks. Reform that empowers individuals—with more help for the poor and the sick—will guarantee that Medicare can fulfill the promise of health security for America's seniors.

We must also reform Social Security to prevent severe cuts to future benefits. This budget forces policy makers to work together to enact common-sense reforms. The goal of this proposal is to save Social Security for current retirees and strengthen it for future generations by building upon ideas offered by the president's bipartisan fiscal commission.

• Budget enforcement: This budget recognizes that it is not enough to change how much government spends. We must also change how government spends. It proposes budget-process reforms—including real, enforceable caps on spending—to make sure government spends and taxes only as much as it needs to fulfill its constitutionally prescribed roles.

• Tax reform: This budget would focus on growth by reforming the nation's outdated tax code, consolidating brackets, lowering tax rates, and assuming top individual and corporate rates of 25%. It maintains a revenue-neutral approach by clearing out a burdensome tangle of deductions and loopholes that distort economic activity and leave some corporations paying no income taxes at all.

This is America's moment to advance a plan for prosperity. Our budget offers the nation a model of government that is guided by the timeless principles of the American idea: free-market democracy, open competition, a robust private sector bound by rules of honesty and fairness, a secure safety net, and equal opportunity for all under a limited constitutional government of popular consent.

We can reform government so that people don't have to reorient their lives for less. We can grow our economy, promote opportunity, and encourage upward mobility. This budget is the new House majority's answer to history's call. It is now up to all of us to keep America exceptional.
Mr. Ryan, a Republican, represents Wisconsin's first congressional district and serves as chairman of the House Budget Committee.
Let the "progressive" Democratic Socialist Party of America's demogoguery and fearmonguery against capitalism and this plan begin!

btw - There's still PLENTY of room to run to the RIGHT of Paul Ryan.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Tax Day LiberTEA Party Set for April 15

from the Harford County Dagger
From the Harford Campaign for Liberty:

The Harford County Campaign for Liberty is hosting a LiberTEA Festival on Tax Day – April 15, 2011 at 5:00PM until 7:00PM. The event will be held at the County Council Chambers office building located at 212 S Bond Street in Bel Air, MD.

This event is the 2-year anniversary of the unofficial kickoff of the Liberty movement across the United States. On April 15, 2009, more than 300 citizens and taxpayers stood in unity against big government spending and growth in the pouring rain in both Havre de Grace and Bel Air.

The name of this festival, LiberTEA, is a play on the words Liberty and TEA Party. The Liberty movement has been very influential in the past 2 years, prompting a huge flip in the US House of Representatives in the 2010 election and a growing conservative involvement in politics nationwide.

The office building at 212 S Bond Street is known as the “Black Box” and the property recently has been condemned by the County Government, prompting Harford County to plan to spend tens of millions of dollars on a new office building in Bel Air.

The LiberTEA Festival will include several patriotic skits and speeches on stage followed by a child-friendly carnival. Hosted by members of the grassroots organization, Campaign for Liberty, there will be games and entertaining educational activities for kids and adults to teach about the role of government. It is an all-ages event, and all supervised kids and grandchildren are welcome.

While the 2010 federal income tax returns are not due until April 18, the traditional deadline to file personal federal returns has been April 15.

The Harford Campaign for Liberty meets on every 4th Tuesday of the month at the Forest Hill Knights of Columbus hall located at 23 Newport Drive in Forest Hill. The Campaign for Liberty’s mission is to promote and defend the great American principles of individual liberty, constitutional government, sound money, free markets, and a noninterventionist foreign policy, by means of educational and political activity.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Maryland State Worker Pension Debacle Continues

50 States Pension Plans Status 2010
from the Baltimore Sun
Differences between the House and Senate versions of the the governor's pension overhaul led to a breakdown in budget talks Friday afternoon.

"Everybody's taking a deep breath and stepping back," said House Speaker Micheal E. Busch in an interview this afternoon.

"It is time of year when people work really hard. A good night's sleep and a little reflection will let everyone re-group and come back Monday. We have some significant issues we need to address."

Conferees from the House and Senate were supposed to meet at 3 p.m. in Annapolis to hash through several dozen remaining differences between the spending plans passed by each chamber. Instead Senators and Delegates were told to stay in their offices, but wait by their phones. As the day wore on they were told to go home, a planned Saturday session was canceled.

The setback will almost certainly mean the state budget will not pass again in each chamber by Monday's deadline. The target date is frequently missed, though it keeps the budget on the front burner while a stack of other legislative issues linger.

At issue are a handful of changes aimed at shoring up the state's overburdened pension plan, including a new idea that surfaced in an area that had already won approval in the House and Senate: The formula by which pension payments are calculated for new employees.

A proposed change costs little in the immediate future, but in the long term the plan adds up: After five years it would add $20 million to general fund costs. In twenty years the figure would balloon to $400 million.

"Where do we get the other 400 million?" Miller said on the Senate floor Friday morning. "Do we impose that on existing teachers? Do we make their contributions higher?"

"You want to negotiate? Fine," Miller said. "But come up with the money you are taking away from what the House and the Senate have previously agreed on."

House Speaker Micheal E. Busch said he wants the committee said that the budget panel should take a "holistic" look at pension reform and stressed that there are wide differences between the House and Senate plan in other areas.

"The House is looking at the pension reform issue as the total impact that it has," Busch said. "There are significant differences between the House and the Senate bill."

"What we are really doing is looking at the overall impact ... we want to be fair and equitable to all state employees, whether they be current employees or future employees," Busch said.

But most of those issues had been clearly identified.

The new facet to emerge Friday was a proposal that would let new hired calculate the size of their pension check by multiplying their years of service 1.8. (A teacher who worked for 10 years would receive pension checks equaling 18 percent of their pay through this plan.)

It is favored by the 71,000 member Maryland State Education Association which trucked thousands of supporters to Annapolis several weeks ago to protest cuts in education and pensions.

The governor had proposed lowering that multiplier to 1.5 for new employees (our example teacher would have a pension check equaling 15 percent of their final pay.) The Senate and the House both passed plans using 1.5, and there was no floor discussion in either chamber about keeping the 1.8 figure.

The change has little immediate budget impact, but the cost balloons as the new employees work and retire.

Sen. Richard Madaleno, a Montgomery County Democrat who is on the conference committee, said he is "confused" by why the multiplier has emerged as an issue since there was no discussion about it during the floor debate.

He also said he is "concerned" that it will re-open other issues that are considered settled. "Clearly this is a chance to take a lot of things that were off the table and put them on the table," Madaleno said.

Other significant differences remain between the House and Senate plans:

The House guaranteed a one percent annual cost-of-living increase for retirees. It could be bumped to three percent if the pension fund meets its 7.75 percent goal for annual investment returns. The senate plan is stingier: Retirees get no COLA unless the 7.75 investment returns materialize.

Retirement ages differ too.

The House agreed with O'Malley's proposal to require new employees work for 30 years before receiving a benefit regardless of their age (or retire at 65 with 10 years on the job.)

The Senate adopted a Rule of 92, which means pension can only be collected when the worker's age plus years of service equal 92. (A 52-year-old who had worked for the state for 30 years would wait until she was 62 before receiving benefits.)

The prescription drug plans also differ: The House plan caps retiree prescription drug costs at $1,000 ($1,500 with spouse); the Senate plan caps the costs at $2,000 ($3,000 with spouse) and increases those ceilings with inflation.