State Roundup: Expanding pre-K a struggle for many districts; widening 6% sales tax ‘a conversation starter’ to fill budget gap; Elections Board appointment delayed

State Roundup: Expanding pre-K a struggle for many districts; widening 6% sales tax ‘a conversation starter’ to fill budget gap; Elections Board appointment delayed

Lawmakers are discussing widening the goods and services covered by the state's 6% sales tax. 'This is a conversation starter,' says Del. David Moon. Photo by Acton Crawford on Unsplash

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STATE’s PRE-K PROGRAM STRUGGLES TO EXPAND: The state’s plan to make pre-K free to low- and moderate-income families and available to all faces some serious struggles. The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future education overhaul relies on a mix of private providers and public schools to expand the availability of pre-K, but many districts are struggling to enlist enough private providers. On top of that, some public schools that would otherwise host the pre-K population don’t have the room to do so. Marijke Friedman And Natalie Weger of Capital News Service/

COMMENTARY: BLUEPRINT OVERLOOKS KEY INGREDIENT FOR SUCCESS: In Baltimore City and in Baltimore, Dorchester and Somerset counties, every child can get a healthy school meal for free, without paperwork submitted by their parents and without the stigma of being labeled as poor. If you need a meal, you get a meal, no questions asked. In the remaining 20 Maryland school systems, this is not the case. The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, education reform legislation that state lawmakers passed in 2021, unfortunately overlooked this key ingredient of academic success. Erin Hager and Susan Gross/The Baltimore Banner.

MARYLAND’s 6% SALES TAX DUE FOR EXPANSION, LEGISLATOR SAYS: A serious conversation about expanding Maryland’s 6% sales tax is not just financially prudent but also “morally responsible” because lawmakers have already approved billions in public education spending without a way to pay for it, a top Democratic leader said Monday. The change — which, as introduced, would actually lower the tax to 5% while expanding it to additional goods and services — is expected to fail in the General Assembly session scheduled to end April 8. Sam Janesch/The Baltimore Sun.

  • Facing down a future multi-billion-dollar budget hole, some Democratic leaders in the Maryland General Assembly have plan to raise money by expanding the sales tax to services. But it’s not popular among businesses, Republicans or even among all Democrats in Annapolis. “This is a conversation starter,” Del. David Moon told his colleagues at the start of a rare Monday morning bill hearing. Pamela Wood/The Baltimore Banner.

SENATE PANEL DELAYS GOP ELECTIONS BOARD APPOINTMENT: A Senate committee delayed a vote on the nomination of another Republican nominee to the State Board of Elections over questions about emails she sent that may have questioned election integrity. The nomination of Diane Butler is the latest to stall in the Senate Executive Nominations Committee. The panel delayed a vote Monday night at the request of an unnamed member of the committee. Bryan Sears/Maryland Matters.

  • Butler said she was no where near Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021 and that she believes there has not been widespread voter fraud and that Maryland elections results have been accurate. But Sen. Clarence Lam said he still has “some serious concerns about some of the actions and correspondence that’s been shared with me.” Sam Janesch/The Baltimore Sun.
  • Maryland senators on the Executive Nominations Committee have started asking candidates up for seats with authority over state elections where they were on the day an angry mob breached the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. They’re asking because last year they gave a seat on the board to a Salisbury man who federal authorities say was there and is now facing criminal charges. Brenda Wintrode/The Baltimore Banner.

AVIATION ADMIN MISHANDLED CONTRACT AWARDS, AUDIT FINDS: The Maryland Aviation Administration mishandled critical aspects of a contract it awarded to operate two convenience stories near BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, a newly released audit has found. The analysis, from the Maryland Office of Legislative Audits, concluded that the aviation administration did not adequately justify a modification to the contract “that significantly changed the financial terms” and removed a federal requirement on minority business participation at one site, “which may not have been in the best interest of the State.” Josh Kurtz/Maryland Matters.

HARRY DUN RELEASES FIRST TV AD IN 3rd CONGRESSIONAL RACE: Harry Dunn, a former Capitol Police officer who is among dozens running for Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District, is up on air with the first TV ad in the race. In the 30-second ad, Dunn speaks about his background and motivation to run over images of him walking to the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Pamela Wood/The Baltimore Banner.

MOORE TAPS STATE’s FIRST CHIEF SUSTAINABILITY OFFICER: Meghan Conklin is no stranger to corridors of powers. A California transplant, she cut her teeth in Washington, D.C., where she spent more than 20 years serving in various roles in Congress and the federal government. She assisted committees and legislators on issues such as climate change, the environment, and energy policy in Maryland and nationally. Gov. Wes Moore appointed her the state’s first chief sustainability officer. Aman Azhar of Inside Climate News/The Baltimore Banner.

SINCLAIR/SUN-OWNER FUNDED PAC AIRS ANTI-BRANDON SCOTT AD: A political action committee backing Baltimore mayoral candidate Sheila Dixon has been airing a television commercial attacking Mayor Brandon Scott, the group’s first major expenditure of the campaign cycle. That PAC has been funded in large part by two donors: John Luetkemeyer of Continental Realty Corp. and David Smith, chairman of Sinclair Broadcasting Group and co-owner of The Baltimore Sun. Emily Opilo/The Baltimore Sun.

About The Author

Cynthia Prairie

Contributing Editor Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor since 1979, when she began working at The Raleigh Times. Since then, she has worked for The Baltimore News American, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Prince George’s Journal and Baltimore County newspapers in the Patuxent Publishing chain, including overseeing The Jeffersonian when it was a two-day a week business publication. Cynthia has won numerous state awards, including the Maryland State Bar Association’s Gavel Award. Besides compiling and editing the daily State Roundup, she runs her own online newspaper, The Chester Telegraph. If you have additional questions or comments contact Cynthia at:

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