Tag: Department of Legislative Services

Md. welfare benefits better than most European countries, think-tank claims

A new report by libertarian think-tank Cato Institute asserts that Maryland’s welfare benefits are higher than almost every European country, with the exception of Denmark and the United Kingdom.

“It’s clear that welfare benefits in Maryland are sufficiently high that they can act as a disincentive to work,” said Michael Tanner, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and lead author of the study. “Maryland should be re-examining its welfare policies to put more emphasis on work.”

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Foundation aims to improve Maryland legislative website

To better understand the state’s challenges to political transparency, the OpenGov Foundation and MarylandReporter.com teamed up to lead a small focus group last Thursday to analyze the access point to all of Maryland’s State House information — the state legislative website. The conclusion? Transparency in Maryland has a long way to go.

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Commission studying pension and retiree benefits plans public hearing today

The Public Employees’ and Retirees’ Pension Benefit Sustainability Commission will hear what employee groups, unions and the general public think about some possible changes to retirement benefits Monday afternoon.

Maryland currently has an estimated $33 billion in unfunded liabilities for benefits it has promised to pay over the next three decades — $18 billion for pensions and $15 billion for retiree health insurance.

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$1.6 billion budget gap predicted

With a slow economic recovery, increases in retirement costs and the end of federal stimulus funds, Maryland is facing a $1.6 billion budget gap and a $2.1 billion structural gap for fiscal year 2012, analysts from the Department of Legislative Services told a joint General Assembly hearing on Wednesday.

Warren Deschenaux, director of policy analysis for the DLS, said that the $2.1 billion gap is not guaranteed: It could get smaller depending on factors such as the new revenue projections due next month or revenue growth rates, which are exceeding expectations in the first four months of fiscal 2011.

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Big Spenders: Who’s the biggest of them all?

The fete for former Gov. Marvin Mandel’s 90th birthday was like “Jurassic Park,” columnist Blair Lee IV quipped to me last week.

The political dinosaurs roamed the University of Maryland’s alumni center in College Park, and there was lots of reminiscing about the good old days.

“Marvin Mandel is the best governor I have seen,” said Rep. Steny Hoyer, who was the youngest Senate president in Maryland history when Mandel reigned upstairs at the State House. “His vision was so clear. His vision was ahead of his time.”

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