Guest commentary: The legislature forgot mental health again

In passing legislation to raise Maryland’s minimum wage, the General Assembly included a provision to increase reimbursement for community-based developmental disabilities providers. This action addresses a legitimate need and no one should begrudge it. However, it does nothing for the direct care workers who serve equally vulnerable citizens, those with psychiatric disabilities.

Smigiel won’t challenge Hershey for Senate

Del. Michael Smigiel, R-Cecil, will run for a fourth term to keep his House seat in District 36 — and forgo a promised Senate primary fight against former Del. Richard Sossi and the recently appointed Sen. Stephen Hershey.

State Roundup, February 23, 2012

Casino fight heats up in PG County; one-day delay on same-sex marriage; Board of Public Works delays travel plaza contract; disability advocates praise O’Malley funding plan; teacher pension shift still in play; Hoyer and O’Donnell top fundraisers in 5th District; Brochin not happy with redrawn district.

State Roundup, February 21, 2012

Same-sex marriage bill to be considered by Senate committee today; Catholics in Annapolis in time to lobby against it; Cardin endorsed by ministers and Jacobs endorsed by Harris; gas tax could cost $400 per household; costs of ending coal tax incentives; Anne Arundel legislators oppose proposed National Harbor casino.

State House goes purple as speaker turns cheerleader

The State House steps became the stomping grounds for chilly cheering and singing Ravens fans when the team’s pep squad rolled into the capital Friday afternoon.
A crowd of about 100 people led by Speaker of the House Michael Busch all decked out in a Ravens jersey welcomed the team’s cheerleaders, mascot and two live ravens to Annapolis.

Auditors: Not enoughAuditors: Not enough state school money coming back state school money coming back

By Andy Rosen

The state panel that oversees school construction has not recovered $3.2 million that Montgomery County owes it, after the local government sold school property that the state helped pay for, according to legislative auditors. The Interagency Committee on School Construction should have gotten the money back, according to the report released Tuesday from the Office of Legislative Audits. The report does not name the school system in question, but a response from the committee refers to Montgomery County. Chief Auditor Bruce Meyers also said “the IAC had not conducted required maintenance inspections for periods in excess of six years for 269 public schools currently in use.” But the committee, which is an agency of the Board of Public Works but staffed by the education department, disputes those figures.

Legislators order cut in structural deficit

Legislative leaders took a new approach to setting budget targets Tuesday, telling the governor and lawmakers that they wanted to see the persistent $2 billion structural deficit cut by a third next year, meaning a $670 million real reduction in general fund spending.

The Spending Affordability Committee, made up of 21 fiscal leaders in the General Assembly, abandoned setting a percentage target for budget growth as they had for the last 28 years — a target sometimes disregarded by governors.