Legislators and nonprofit groups are still digesting the $42.3 billion budget Gov. Larry Hogan submitted Wednesday. But there were few signs of indigestion over a proposal that increases spending by $2 billion (5%), while setting aside a record $1.5 billion in reserves and surplus. “We don’t know until we get into all the details” is the way House Speaker Michael Busch summed it up after breakfast with the governor and fiscal leaders. House Appropriations Committee Chair Maggie McIntosh had lots of unanswered questions, as well.
Gov. Larry Hogan will host the annual holiday party for state employees Thursday afternoon at the governor’s mansion. But outside Government House, members of the state’s largest public employee union, AFSCME, plan on protesting what they say is the administration’s failure to negotiate a new contract or respond to any union proposals, despite a Dec. 31 deadline in state law.
A labor union for Maryland public employees held rallies across the state Thursday to place pressure on Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration for a pay raise and more money to fill vacant jobs under their current contract negotiations.
A real-life drama — and personal tragedy — played out last week when the Maryland Board of Public Works took up the Hogan administration’s request to fire 59 state workers who don’t deserve to be coldly thrown out of their jobs. Most of them have earned sterling performance reviews. They have worked diligently for the state responsibly handling personnel matters. Yet now they have been accused — unfairly and without a whisper of truth — of being part of the state prison system’s “rampant criminal activity” and “corruption.”
The largest unions representing state workers and public school teachers are upset at Gov. Martin O’Malley’s decision to permanently cut $100 million from extra payments into the state pension system. The money came from additional employee salary deductions required by a 2011 pension reform, and was intended to help cure underfunding in the pension system.
For as long as some housekeepers at the University of Maryland College Park can remember, they have been eating lunch next to mops, brooms, dust pans, and cleaning sprays in tight janitor closets. That’s among the working conditions at issue as the $11.50-an-hour housekeepers hold a rally as they are about to open contract negotiations.
Thirteen Maryland correctional officers indicted last month in a corruption case that has outraged legislators and the public were getting paid between $28,000 and $47,000 in 2012, according to salary figures from the comptroller’s office. “The vast majority are doing [the job] at the current salary level,” said one union representative. “I don’t think offering someone more money makes them more honest.”
The union that represents Maryland correctional officers responded Tuesday to the scandal that led to the federal indictment of 13 Baltimore City Detention Center correctional officers for helping a national gang run a criminal enterprise within the walls of the prison. The officers complained of lack of staffing and systemic weaknesses.
The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee voted Thursday to cut $100 million in contributions to the State Retirement and Pension System for fiscal 2014. The committee tied the unexpected move to passage of legislation that will eventually ensure the state puts aside enough money for employee and teachers pensions. But the cut also adds a year to achieving long-term funding goals for those pensions.
Employees of the Maryland Transportation Authority, which operates the state’s toll bridges and tunnels, have kicked off a campaign for union representation even though the governor has yet to sign the bill authorizing collective bargaining at their agency.