At the Board of Revenue Estimates Wednesday, from left, State Treasurer Nancy Kopp, Comptroller Peter Franchot and Andrew Schaufele, chief of revenue estimates. Capital News Service Photo by Vickie Connor

State revenue estimates are down $783 million over the next two years, biggest write-down since 2010  

Maryland tax revenues are expected to be down $365 million this fiscal year and another $418 million in fiscal 2018, a $783 million drop in what the state can spend, eating up all this year’s projected budget surplus. The estimate revision is the largest projected write-down since 2010, when the state was in the midst of recession recovery and the panel was off by 5%. “These are significant reductions in our estimates, and reflect the volatility that Maryland’s economy continues to experience,” Comptroller Peter Franchot said.

Downtown Columbia on the shores of Lake Kittamaqundi at 11 a.m. July 2, 2016. Photo by Len Lazarick

Part 3: Shopping and Retailing at the Heart of the Columbia Plan

This is the third part in a series of 12 monthly essays over the next year leading up to Columbia’s 50th birthday celebration next June. Part 3 examines the central role of shopping and retailing for the development of the Columbia plan. With changes in both lifestyles and retailing — and a couple of poor locations — the village centers did not always work out as planned.

Some of the union demonstrators against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at Michael's Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie.

Wisconsin Gov. Walker right at home with union protests

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker felt right at a home in Glen Burnie Friday night for the annual state Republican’s Red White and Blue dinner. Union members were picketing him outside. “Obviously, I haven’t lost my touch,” Walker joked, referring to the massive demonstrations he generated in Wisconsin’s capital in 2011 when he tried to cut back on collective bargaining rights of public employee unions and raise their pension contributions.


Endorsements, billboard attacks stir U.S. Senate race

The race to replace Barbara Mikulski in the U.S. Senate had dueling endorsements from major business and education groups Thursday. The fairly low-key campaign is also about to get a little edgier with low-budget roving billboards from an independent group tying Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the Democratic frontrunner, to paying off Iranian mullahs and welcoming Syrian terrorists.

Grand Geyser in Yellowstone

National Park Service celebrates 100 years

The National Parks Service celebrated its 100th anniversary Thursday, so it seemed like a good time to link back to the travelogue published in June about my three-week, 4,000 mile trek to seven national parks in the west. It’s light reading with more than 20 pictures of what many have called “America’s best idea.” Even if America’s best ideas might actually be found in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, establishing national parks was a darn good one too.

Rendering of proposed Prince George's County Regional Medical Center.

Opinion: New Prince George’s hospital needed, but must struggle for patients

In order to make its dream of building and sustaining the Taj Mahal of hospitals come true, the Prince George’s County Hospital Center must attract more patients than it currently does. In its application for a new facility that it submitted to the Maryland Health Care Commission, the PGHC says that its financial problems in large part stem from the fact that county residents often seek treatment elsewhere.

From the 2015 annual report of the State Retirement Agency

Maryland pension fund misses investment target again, earning just over 1%

For the second year in a row, Maryland’s pension fund missed its target for return on its investment portfolio by a wide mark, earning just 1.16% for the fiscal year that ended June 30 compared to its annual goal of 7.55%. Last year, the fund made 2.68%.
Because of the lagging returns the $45.5 billion fund is apparently worth $300 million less than it was worth June 30 last year, and long-term liabilities are over $20 billion.

Kayakers paddle Barren Creek in Wicomico County, MD. The plan for the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail would emphasize protecting the viewshed so it would appear as close as possible to what Smith saw during his voyages. Bay Journal photo by Dave Harp

Happy 10th birthday to the Bay’s beautiful and historic national trail

As the National Park Service celebrates its centennial this year, we are also celebrating the 10th anniversary of a national park we have right here in our collective backyard: the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. Winding through much of the Chesapeake region, the nation’s first all-water national historic trail is as beautiful, and as precious to our nation, as its more famous sisters around the nation

Caricatures by DonkeyHotey with Flickr Creative Commons License

“None of the above” appeals to many voters

This is an edited version of a column that appears in the August issue of The Business Monthly serving Howard and Anne Arundel counties. By Len Lazarick

Maryland has never had a strong movement to put “none of the above” on election ballots, but perhaps the nominations of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump could change that. Only one state, Nevada, has “none of these candidates” as a non-binding option on the ballot, though a judge recently struck down this 40-year old law. California voters rejected a proposition creating “none of the above” as an election choice in 2000. Countries giving voters the option of “none of the above” include India, Greece, Ukraine, Spain and Colombia.