Friday, November 14, 2008

Rich Madaleno Becomes Chairman of the MoCo Senate Delegation

Senator Rich Madaleno sent out this notice minutes ago. Note his comments on teacher pensions and transportation funding.


I am pleased to report that I was elected chair of the Montgomery County Senate Delegation last night. Sen. Jamie Raskin of District 20 was elected Vice Chair. The chair runs the delegation’s weekly meetings and serves as a conduit for information concerning issues impacting the county in the State Senate.

We both received the unanimous support of our colleagues. We look forward to working with the leadership of our House delegation, Del. Brian Feldman and Del. Susan Lee.

As a result of the global economic downturn, this will be a challenging year for the General Assembly. I pledge to work diligently to protect the county’s interests during these tough financial times. I also hope to build consensus with our colleagues from across the state on solutions to our current problems.

Topping the list of priorities this year will be opposing any permanent structural changes to state aid formulas. Montgomery County’s Delegation is united in working to stop any effort to shift retirement costs for our teachers and librarians back to the county. For more than 80 years, the state has managed and funded the trust fund which pays for the pension benefits of teachers and librarians. We cannot let our short term financial needs jeopardize a system that has served the taxpayers and teachers of our state so well for so long.

We will also work to ensure that the county’s school construction allocation is not less than the $46 million we received in the current fiscal year. Our school system has an aggressive plan to build and modernize our school buildings. This level of state funding helps support good construction jobs in our struggling economy and ensures our students have the environment they need to succeed.

Working with our Prince George’s County colleagues, we plan to implement all of the statutory changes needed to secure the federal government’s pledge of $1.5 billion in improvements to the Metro system. Our congressional delegation succeeded in obtaining federal funds to renovate and repair the Metro system. Now, Maryland, Virginia, and DC must amend our regional compact to meet our new obligation. The laws of all three jurisdictions must be amended exactly the same, down to each comma, to satisfy new federal requirements. We will work to see that these changes are made and that the state meets its funding goals.

Finally, I plan to lead the delegation in a discussion concerning the future of transportation funding in our state and region. The last year has highlighted the growing volatility in the revenue sources that support the transportation trust fund. While we may not agree on every project, we need to explore new ways to provide financial stability to the trust fund and to ensure that we have the resources to meet our significant transportation infrastructure needs.

Sen. Raskin and I look forward to working with our talented colleagues in the Maryland State Senate to make 2009 a year of progressive change for our county and state.

Thank you,

Rich Madaleno