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.

Franchot

The perils of rhetorical excess

We are in an era of political figures engaging in speech that is extreme and inflammatory. Hoping for attention in that noisy environment, many give into the temptation to employ outlandish analogies and historical references that are wildly inappropriate.

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Md. revenues grow slightly, but middle class incomes stagnate

The good news on Maryland revenues is that there is no more bad news and some slight growth, leading to calls of “restrained optimism” and “caution” by top state officials. But the sobering news underlining the on-target revenue projections for this year and next is that they are only growing at 3 to 4% because middle class incomes have been largely flat. The slower growth with a static economy is the new normal for a state that had been used to 5% overall growth.

Laptop computer by mmole on Flickr

Many blame big corporation, Pearson, for school testing malaise

When a state commission meets for the first time on Tuesday to open a probe on the use of standardized testing in Maryland public schools, the elephant in the room could well be the testing vendor itself. The company, Pearson, is viewed by some as a multi-pronged education conglomerate whose standardized testing component is either a bane of classroom existence or the future of student assessments, depending on whom you speak with.

Gov. Larry Hogan, left, and Comptroller Peter Franchot announce tax refund. Photo by Governor's Office.

Hogan, Franchot tout $200M tax refund, but judges and Howard County couple deserve credit

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and Democratic Comptroller Peter Franchot were at the podium in the State House Monday taking credit for a $200 million income tax refund that 55,000 Marylanders could apply for.

But it was actually judges on the U.S. Supreme Court and Maryland’s Court of Appeals that should have been standing there, or even better Brian and Karen Wynne of Howard County who deserved the credit.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, right, and Superintent of Schools Dallas Dance at Sparks Elementary School from the county's Facebook page.

Rascovar: Hogan vs. Kamenetz, a preview of 2018?

In a bizarre twist, we might witness a preview of the 2018 gubernatorial campaign at the next Board of Public Works meeting. Then again, a threatened confrontation between Republican Gov. Larry Hogan Jr. and Democratic Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz may never occur. Even more bizarre is the issue that could bring these potential foes into a debate arena: air-conditioning.