Steve Schuh loves his job as Anne Arundel County executive and he hopes to keep it. In a normal re-election year, a county executive would keep his job if he has been fairly successful and hasn’t screwed up, as Schuh believes is true and a recent poll seems to indicate. But this election year is not normal. “Democrats are very angry,” said the Republican county executive in his third annual year-end interview with The Business Monthly in late December.
Term limits for Maryland legislators are a great idea whose time will never come. That’s particularly true of Gov. Larry Hogan’s proposal for a two-term limit on Maryland lawmakers. That could actually make things worse at the State House. Even Republican legislators who repeatedly do the heavy lifting for their Republican governor think the idea stinks — off the record, of course.
The Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education wrapped up its preliminary report Monday during a sometimes contentious discussion over how much the massive $1.3 billion infusion of new education funding from 2002 to 2008 had improved Maryland schools. “Putting it bluntly, despite a significant increase in State funding over the past 15 years, Maryland students still perform in the middle of the pack within the US, which is in the middle of the pack against the rest of the modern world,” says the report.
A key Democratic narrative this election year is that Maryland used to have the best public schools in the country, but Republican Gov. Larry Hogan has short changed them so much that they have now slipped to 5th place. The problem with this partisan talking point is that the Education Week Quality County report card on which the claim is based has always been a dubious indicator of how good the schools were. Weeks before Hogan took office in 2015, Maryland had already slipped to third place as Education Week began to give more weight to student outcomes.Even if the complicated rating standards were not questionable, Maryland’s slipping ratings are based mostly on lagging data from test scores in O’Malley budget years.
The 14 state lobbying firms that billed over $1 million in the past year grossed over $30 million representing literally hundreds of clients. Not surprisingly, the 10 highest-paid lobbyists which we listed last month as each billing more than $1 million are also members of the top-grossing firms.
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The top 10 highest paid lobbyists in Maryland remained the same this year, and in about the same order, according to figures just released from the State Ethics Commission. All had billings over $1 million, with Tim Perry and Gerry Evans number 1 and 2 at over $2 million. The figures do not just represent personal compensation, but all the billings made to support their offices and staff. Another 18 lobbyists, often in the same firms as the top 10, billed over $500,000.
Gov. Hogan to seek to protect Maryland taxpayers from higher tax bills caused by new federal tax overhaul; Del. McKay says legalizing recreational marijuana likely to be a top issue in upcoming session; Comptroller Franchot pushes for regular mental health checkups for all; state Democratic Party files complaint against judge who attended Roy Moore fund-raiser; Paul Corderman sworn in as latest state delegate; candidate-legislators gear up for pre-session fund-raisers; gubernatorial candidate Jim Shea issues transportation proposal; meanwhile Ben Jealous garners more union backing; and Prince George’s exec hopeful Edwards doesn’t get union support she received in congressional run.
Unlike Gov. Larry Hogan, the more conservative Rep. Andy Harris, the state’s sole remaining Republican congressman, does not shy away from Trump, and he previewed his own GOP talking points at Saturday’s GOP Christmas Party in Baltimore.
Big increases in teacher salaries along with the creation of statewide career ladder that would put teachers in line with other “high-status professions” are among the key recommendations a statewide commission on school funding will make to the legislature this year. The Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, charged with looking at a wide range of education issues, will also recommend teams of teachers be given greater autonomy and spend less time in the classroom and more time collaborating on teaching strategies.