Our focus this past week was on reviewing the budget and preparing for crossover deadline. “Crossover” is when Senate bills should be ready for House hearings and consideration, and House bills come over to us in the Senate.
Building the Best Budget
This week, the Senate unanimously approved the proposed budget for fiscal year 2017. The $42 billion budget was then sent to the House of Delegates, which was subsequently passed yesterday (133-5). This year’s budget is strategic and compassionate, while remaining fiscally responsible. The capital budget included funding for much-needed projects, including the Universities at Shady Grove. USG is an asset to our community and offers students a top-notch education at a convenient location. Even with funding for worthy projects like this, the budget also set aside $1.1 billion for our “Rainy Day” fund.
|Gas station signs can be misleading in the dark. My “Gas Price Clarity” bill would fix such problems.
Maryland is ranked 44th of 50 states by Forbes magazine in an analysis of our tax policies. To address this, the Senate passed (37-8) an “Earned Income Tax Credit,” which will provide some tax relief to every Maryland taxpayer. Our State needs sufficient revenue for priorities like schools and roads. But we also must increase our competitive climate in order to attract and retain employers and good jobs. If Maryland is not perceived as a desirable place to do business, we all lose. For this reason, I supported the bill.
The District 17 Team: (L to R) Dels. Andrew Platt, Jim Gilchrist, & Kumar Barve. We work together on behalf of Gaithersburg and Rockville.
Questioning Experimental Education
My committee — Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs — is assigned most proposed education bills. From charter schools last year, to public school access for home school students, to corporate partnership programs, we hear about experimental initiatives from around the country. Ultimately, we need to decide whether they are worth authorizing in Maryland. Funding, curriculum, regulations, and oversight are among the many considerations. This past week, I ultimately opposed one very expensive and untested idea that started recently in New York. I did vote to allow a creative pilot program in one school that will be privately funded.
While I enjoy learning about creative solutions to the challenges of public education, I am not willing to support a program until I am fairly confident that it will genuinely benefit our students.
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Cheryl C. Kagan
State Senator, District 17
Rockville & Gaithersburg
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