Gov. Larry Hogan talked a lot about bipartisan cooperation in his State of the State address to the General Assembly Wednesday. Democratic legislators say it was mostly talk. Hogan and the Democratic leaders do agree in general that the extreme partisanship in Washington is bad and Annapolis is much better.
MarylandReporter.com, the 8-year-old nonprofit news website on state government and politics, and Maryland Matters, another member of the Institute for Nonprofit News, both met their 2017 News Match challenge grants, raising $28,000 each from hundreds of donors.
Snow and bad travel conditions cut the attendance at the annual United Seniors of Maryland day of lobbying in half Wednesday. But more than 100 committed older Marylanders who did show up to lobby their legislators got strong pitches for new state services and legislation that will help control drug prices for the booming numbers of people over 60 in the state. Secretary of Aging Rona Kramer, a former Democratic senator in the Hogan administration, unveiled a new program just being developed called Communities for Life, designed to allow older Marylanders to age in place with a broad array of private support services.
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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