Thursday, January 27, 2011

Eric Luedtke's Pre-Snowstorm Session Email

The full content as well info on where to call about outages after the jump.

January 26, 2010

Dear Friends,

It looks like the first big storm of the winter is here. As beautiful as snow can be, I want to encourage you to pay attention and stay safe on the roads. It felt like I skidded most of the way to Annapolis this morning, and the roads are likely to be much worse by the end of the evening. As the snow falls, please feel free to contact my Annapolis office at 301-858-3110 if I can be of assistance. You can get information and updates on snow plowing from the county’s winter weather website. In addition, should you lose power, the numbers to report outages are as follows:

- Allegheny Power: 1-800-255-3443
- BG&E: 1-877-778-2222
- PEPCO: 1-877-PEPCO-62

It’s been a busy few days in Annapolis with the release of the Governor’s budget last Friday. As the debate goes forward, I want to let you know some highlights of the budget and give you an explanation of the budget process. I also want to make sure you’re aware of our District 14 Night in Annapolis this coming Monday, January 31st at 6:00 PM. District 14 Night is an opportunity for you to hear updates from our delegation and talk to us about the issues on your mind. I hope to see you there:

District 14 Night
January 31st, 6:00 PM
Lowe House Office Building, Room 170
Annapolis, Maryland

Budget Process

Maryland’s budget is the only bill that the General Assembly is constitutionally mandated to pass, and the constitution also mandates that our budget be balanced. That said, it’s important to understand that Maryland has one of the strongest executive-driven budget processes in the country, so the legislature may cut the budget but may not add to it. This year, the House of Delegates moves the budget first, but both chambers will have a chance to weigh in before a conference committee negotiates a final budget. Much of the debate in the House will take place on the Appropriations Committee. While I sit on a different committee, my District 14 colleague Craig Zucker is on Appropriations and has been constantly updating us about the work of that committee. The delegation will be working closely together throughout the debate to ensure that our district’s voice is heard.

Proposed Budget

This past year, the Spending Affordability Committee composed of legislators and members of the public recommended that the Governor’s budget close at least one-third of the states long-term structural deficit. Governor O’Malley has proposed a budget that exceeds the target, reducing the structural deficit by 35%. This was a challenging task, in particular because the end of federal stimulus spending meant a steep drop in federal monies going to education and health care. Some highlights of the Governor’s budget are below:

Education: Education funding would remain level, and the Geographic Cost of Education Index that supports schools in high-cost jurisdictions like Montgomery County is fully funded. $250 million is dedicated to school construction in order to help modernize some of our older school buildings. The proposed budget also limits increases in tuition at public universities to 3%, with the goal of keeping college affordable.

Health Care: The Governor’s budget proposes to continue our commitment to health care by maintaining funding for Medicaid even as more Marylanders have turned to the program during the recession. It also increases reimbursements for developmental disabilities providers, a necessary step in providing basic services to our most vulnerable citizens.

Job Creation: Support for job creation is a key goal of the state as we climb out of the recession. The proposed budget maintains funding for the biotech tax credit and stem cell research, increases to $2.5 million the small business credit recovery program, and creates a new program called InvestMaryland which will drive more venture capital to the state.

Public Employees: For the first time in three years, the state budget does not propose to furlough state employees. It also includes a one-time bonus for state employees, partially paid for by the elimination of 1,000 positions in state government due to the Employee Buy-Out program. State government will be leaner and more efficient as a result.

Pensions: Unfortunately, the proposed budget also includes drastic cuts to the teacher pension program, which would require new teachers to pay more for a smaller pension. While I agree with the Governor that some changes are necessary to the pensions, I remain concerned that the proposed changes will make it increasingly difficult to attract and retain talented new teachers. The single most important factor in a child’s success in school is the quality of the teacher we put in front of them. In the pension debate, we need to remember the real consequences of our decisions – it is not just a fiscal dilemma, but an educational one as well.

I will continue to be engaged in the budget debate, and I hope to hear from you as it goes forward. Please do not hesitate to contact me at 301-858-3110 or by e-mail at And, of course, stay warm through the storm.


Delegate Eric Luedtke