From the office of Del. Kathy Szeliga:
The budget bill is one week behind because of all the actions taken on the gay marraige issue. Today, we are moving the budget out of the Appropriations Committee. Next week will be budget, budget budget!
Direct Shipment of Wine:
For a number years, legislation has been introduced to allow consumers to have wine shipped directly to their home. I am a cosponsor of this measure. It looks like we may get a wine bill passed this year!
Stay tuned as I keep you updated on this very popular issue.
Wine shipping has been in front of the legislature for at least 10 years – maybe 2011 will be a good year for wine!
More on Instate Tuition Discounts for Illegal Immigrants
The Senate passed SB 167, which will grant instate tuition for “undocumented immigrants.” It is now under serious consideration by the House Ways and Means Committee but has not moved out of that committee yet.
Just this week, we had a compelling testimony in favor of a brilliant measure that will help foster kids have better access to a college education. I was surprised to find the Maryland Association of Community Colleges opposing a measure to help foster kids while supporting a measure to help illegal aliens get a college education.
Most troubling is the philosophy of our state community colleges that supporting those here in our state illegally would be “good public policy” while helping our foster kids, the most vulnerable and needy orphans in our state, would not be worthy of public support.
It can be a crazy mixed up world in Annapolis. I hope we can help the foster kids (there are only 88 currently in the program) have better access to a college education. Wouldn’t it be great if we could reach out to more foster kids and get them into college!
Rallies and Visitors:
The March for Life on Monday night was GREAT! Raven’s player, Matt Birk, was one of the speakers. What a great guy – a Harvard graduate with an economics degree – stood tall for Life and rallied the crowd.
Two visitors this week: Wesley Harris, homeschooled junior and Sam Kahl, homeschooled sophomore. Wesley came to Annapolis to see how things work in Annapolis. Sam was here to see the legislature and he also help out in our office. Thanks, Sam!!
There was a union rally and march on the State House on Monday night also. Union members were in Annapolis to let Governor O’Malley know that they are not happy with the proposed changes to their pensions and considered cuts. What was really funny was that Governor O’Malley addressed the huge union crowd and told them that he did not like the budget either. Funny because it’s HIS budget!! In Maryland, the governor submits the budget and has the power of the purse. The legislature can only cut the governor’s budget.
If you would like to come visit Annapolis while the General Assembly is in session, please don’t hesitate to let me know.
As you know, I am on the Appropriations Committee. We are working VERY hard and I will have more information for you next week. My committee will be working in Annapolis late into the night today to pass out a budget. I can’t wait to share this information with you next week!
I will tell you that the governor is transfering money out of every account he can find. In some cases, he is borrowing money to repay these transfers, like Program Open Space and the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund. Taxpayers then get to pay more than once for some of these things (original fee plus interest and lending fees)
6:10 PM – live update from the Approps Committee:
Republicans move to reject the Capital Budget BRFA – bad public policy to spend special funds and borrow money to repay it. Also, it’s repaid over two years, so we don’t have all the money we should right now – and we have to pay interest on it.
Republican motion to reject the Capital Budget BFRA fails.
Motion to keep the $90 million in the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund (flush fee funded). That motion failed too. Instead Maryland will borrow money to pay back the flush fee fund, with interest. So much for “special funds” being special.
(The BRFA, Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act, is the vehichle that the governor uses to transfer funds, raise fees, and other things.)
I’m hanging tough – voting against more taxes and fees!! Sometimes there are only 4 or 5 of us voting no, but I heard you loud and clear – NO MORE TAXES – you can count on me.
(BTW – Appropriations Committee is 25 members 7 Republicans)
Thanks for your continued support and encouragement. I am humbled and honored to be representing you and your family in Annapolis.
Maryland House of Delegates