Last Monday, I spent nearly seven hours in a marathon joint hearing with the House Appropriations and Ways and Means Committees and the Senate Budget and Taxation and Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committees on the bill that would implement the recommendations of the Kirwan Commission. If you recall, this bill calls for a massive restructuring of public education in Maryland and carries with it a $4 BILLION per year price tag. Last Monday’s hearing dealt with the policy side of the bill and subsequent hearings will look at the funding (more on that below).
I believe that every child deserves a world-class education in Maryland, however, I still have several significant concerns about this bill:
The cost. As currently written, Kirwan would cost each Marylander an additional $6,240.
Local impact. Kirwan will require the state and counties to pay more towards education, with lower-income communities spending more. I worry about the impact this will have on our Western Maryland counties and their already maxed-out budgets.
Classroom environment. The Kirwan bill does not address the classroom environment or include provisions for ensuring that teachers and students are safe. Things like bullying, lack of respect and discipline in the classroom have a huge impact on student and teacher success.
Accountability. I would like there to be more accountability written into this plan. Currently, accountability is only being measures by inputs – ensuring that money was spent where it is supposed to be spent, not outputs – student and teacher performance. Before the taxpayers of Maryland agree to a $4 BILLION/year investment in education, I would like to know we’ll see a measurable return.
The House will work on the Kirwan bill first before it goes to the Senate, and I will keep you updated on its progress.
Photo Courtesy of Fox 45 Baltimore
Sales Tax Expansion
To pay for Kirwan, House Majority Leader Eric Luedtke, a Democrat, introduced a bill that would expand the state’s sales tax to cover professional services. While billed as a sales tax reduction because it lowers the sales tax rate from 6% to 5%, this bill is actually the biggest tax increase in Maryland History. This is a $2.6 BILLION/YEAR tax increase and is more than all of the O’Malley era tax increases combined.
This bill would now require you to pay taxes on professional services like your haircut, landscaping, tax preparation, veterinary services, funeral and mortuary services and much much much more.
This bill would crush Maryland’s economy and small business community and I will not support it.
Legislation Updates: Aging in Place – HB1091
I am proudly sponsoring legislation that will increase the personal needs allowance for seniors to pay for long-term care services and supports. This will help more seniors in our community age in place in their homes for as long as possible.