The heat in our public schools

City schools should not have to close because the boilers don’t work.

With aging buildings, what happened last week was not a surprise.

It is now our obligation to assess the blame and more importantly, to prevent this from happening again.

There will be discussion of the formula that determines how much money is allocated for building upkeep to the 24 school systems in the state. (The vast majority of state aid to local government is written into law or regulation.)

There will be discussion of whether individuals are to blame for the City schools being closed during last week’s Arctic chill.

And now there will be discussion of whether the state’s schools need an Office of the State Education Investigator General.

Unveiled by Governor Hogan at a press conference yesterday, this office “will be charged with investigating complaints of unethical, unprofessional, or illegal conduct rela, ng to procurement, education assets, graduation requirements, grading, education facilities, and school budgets.”

This should result in a healthy debate. Is adequate overview of our public schools provided by the existing system of checks and balances – annual review of agency operations during budget hearings, the General Assembly’s Office of Legislative Audits, the State Prosecutor, and reporting by the media?

It will be a vitally important discussion of government and politics.

A Taxing Issue

I don’t ask my colleagues to vote for my bills before I’ve written them.

Neither should the Governor.

“Our goal will be to leave that money in the pockets of hard-working Marylanders,” Governor Hogan said in an opening statement yesterday at a Board of Public Works meeting. “I am confident that our partners in the General Assembly who have expressed concern over the impact of this tax reform bill will support us unanimously in protecting Marylanders who could be negatively affected. Protecting taxpayers should be a bipartisan issue.”

The process by which the Republican majority just passed the tax bill reinforces my point.

Public hearings and debate raise issues that should be addressed.

Then we can decide what tax policy is in the best interests of hard-working Marylanders.

April 6 – Judging our commitment

We should be judged this session by how we respond to the life and death of Freddie Gray.
I have focused on preventing lead poisoning and creating incentives for fathers who owe child support to find a job.

There will be several studies focused on enforcement but no new laws on lead. The child support bill could pass this weekend.

Speaker Mike Busch initiated several bills that include funding for demolition and neighborhood renovation, extended Pratt Library hours, tutoring and after-school programs.

Governor Hogan chose not to sign or veto this legislation, noting that requiring him to fund these programs was unnecessary because his “administration was already 100-percent committed to” those projects.

The proof of that commitment will be in the implementation – by the state government, as well as the new Baltimore City administration.

My priority this summer will be to find out from our neighborhood associations which of these programs can benefit their communities.  Then I’ll work with them and my 41st District colleagues to obtain this funding.

From Greatest hits to a simple test

At some point, the campaign will end and the governing will begin.

Not today, however.

Governor Hogan’s State of the State speech began with his greatest hits from the election.

           “40 consecutive tax hikes have taken an additional $10 billion out of the pockets of struggling Maryland families and small businesses. We’ve lost more than 8,000 businesses, and Maryland’s unemployment nearly doubled.”

He also stated that he would introduce legislation cutting taxes by an estimated $30 million.

What he would cut from his budget if these reductions are made, he did not say.

The Governor further said, “We have universities and schools that are among the best in the nation.”

How that jibes with the increase in K-12 class size that his budget would bring about, he did not say.

However, the Governor did give an indication as to how he will deal with the realities of governing:

             “And every decision I make as governor will be put to a simple test.

            “Will this law or action make it easier for families and small businesses to stay in Maryland?

            “And – will it make more families and small businesses want to come to Maryland?”

Before we complete our work in April, the Governor and the legislature will have countless opportunities to answer those questions.

From poetry to prose and numbers

In his Inaugural address today, Governor Hogan declared, “I am prepared to create an environment of trust and cooperation, where the best ideas rise to the top based upon their merit, regardless of which side of the political debate they come from.”

The proof will be in his policies.

As a freshman member of the Appropriations Committee, I learned that the budget bill is the policy document of the state.

Where you spend the public’s money establishes the state’s priorities.

Governor Hogan’s budget bill will be introduced on Friday.

The late Mario Cuomo said, “You campaign in poetry and govern in prose.”

The prose and the numbers are about to take center stage.

  • My Key Issues:

  • Pimlico and The Preakness
  • Our Neighborhoods
  • Pre-Kindergarten
  • Lead Paint Poisoning