January 27, 2012
Good News for the Developmental Disability Administration
Over the last 6 months the Developmental Disability Administration had urged each of the legislators to write a letter to restore $25million to the DDA Budget for fiscal year 2013.
The $25million was in the DDA Budget at the close of the 2012 fiscal year and the Department of Budget Management swept the funds into the General Fund due to unallocated funds by DDA. It is important to note that the Governor had no intention of cutting the $25million he just wanted to spend it on something else.
Fortunately our letters of support were heard. On January 18th when the Governors budget was proposed to the General Assembly it included an increase of funding by about $31million and creates a new plan that allows unspent money to stay in the agency.
In addition to the restoration of the budget, DDA has been able to uncover why $25million was unspent. Furthermore, the former director has been replaced with Frank Kirkland who has laid out a plan to reform DDA and has ensured that funds will be spent as allocated in the future.
When I called the Baltimore County Commission on Disabilities about the fund restoration they were very relieved and grateful. The funds will assure that services and resources to this community will continue.
Doctor of the Day
Every day during session, Annapolis has two doctors, who volunteer their services to be on call for all the visitors, staffers and elected officials in case of emergency. This week we are honored to have two doctors from the 42nd District.
Thank you Dr. Jack Gordon and Dr. James Williams for volunteering your precious time to make sure Annapolis is healthy and safe!
Sewage Spills, Septics & the Chesapeake Bay
On January 18th the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Transportation held a briefing on Maryland’s Watershed Improvement Plan (WIP). Dr. Summers, Secretary of the Maryland Department on the Environment (MDE), made the following claims:
- The impact of raw sewage has no meaningful impact on the health of the Chesapeake Bay. Summers claims that raw sewage into the bay is “bacteria” and that is not what they are concerned about.
- One of the initiatives of the state is to halt growth in rural counties and focus growth in the areas with “state of the art waste water treatment plants” (Ironically, one of which dumped 100 million gallons of raw sewage into the Bay)
- Dr. Summers has not provided any credible data that would substantiate how neighboring states contribute to pollution levels in the Chesapeake Bay.
Four Reasons Why We Do Not Need a Gas Tax
The moans we hear in Annapolis about how the Transportation Authority needs more money for everything is everywhere. Enough! I do not support an increase in taxes and I am going to give you four reasons why:
- Construction Costs – Maryland is not a right to work state. This means that contracts must be bid by to include high union wages known as prevailing wage. In addition the Governor is initiating Project Labor Agreements (PLA). All contractors must high union workers. This inflates the construction projects by 15-20% and precludes the small businesses from bidding on Maryland’s projects.
- Union Compensation – The cost of transit has been impacted by the greed of the Union wages. Binding Arbitration declared the union would receive a retroactive pay increase, restoration of furlough days and a pension enhancement. Their pension and health care cost for current and retired employees do not require employee contributions and is totally paid for by your tax dollars.
- Highway User Funds– Over the past few years we know that the Transportation Trust Fund has been raided to fund General fund needs. The Governor claims that he has paid back the money that was transferred. Partially true. The billion dollars for local counties of Highway User Funds intended for local county’s road projects and repairs have not been repaid, placing a heavy burden on Baltimore County and other counties.Double talk! Every time you put gas into your tank, the tax collected is to be spent on roads, not just State roads, all roads, for maintenance and construction.Baltimore City was the only jurisdiction that received funds. In the 2013 budget, $162 million was allocated to highway user funds, $132 million will go to Baltimore City leaving $30 million to be parceled out among the rest of Maryland’s 23 counties. The money is being taken when needs are growing.We expected that the money from the gas tax would pay for repairs and new projects NOT be taken by the Governor to pay for other things.
- Transit –In 2010 it was reported that ridership had declined. Light Rail and commuter bus service growth is stagnant. The amount of funds dedicated to transit spending has significantly outpaced highway spending. Even with declining use, the Governor is expanding three new major transit lines (The Purple Line, Corridor Cities Transit Way and The Red Line). The plan will cost Marylanders over $800 million and access will be limited by the folks in the outlying areas. The cost of transit is increasing to the detriments of our roadways and repairs.
These are the reasons we must say NO to a Gas Tax!
You can look at my video on YouTube:
Very truly yours,
Delegate Susan L.M. Aumann
District 42, Baltimore County