You can always keep up with what I am doing by following me at @mkorman on Twitter, clicking "Like" on Delegate Marc Korman on Facebook, or visitingwww.marckorman.com. And remember, if you would like to support my reelection financially, you can do so at www.marckorman.com/contribute.
The District 16 team's annual Annapolis Report recently hit mailboxes. You can also view the summary of our recent legislative session here.
The Washington Post covered a potential piece of legislation I am working on related to public financing of state legislative campaigns. Currently, public financing programs exist for Gubernatorial candidates and local candidates in Montgomery County. Thus far, legislation to enact a similar program for state legislative candidates has not succeeded. Some of us have been discussing whether or not local governments could create public financing programs for state legislative candidates. You can read the story online.
The Baltimore Sun editorial board recently previewed a major upcoming issue for the General Assembly: revisions to our education funding formulas. This process is referred to as "Adequacy," "Thornton II," or "Kirwan" depending on who you are talking to. It is the system by which the state allocates what is currently $5.5 billion in operating funds to local jurisdictions for education. Montgomery County currently receives approximately $700 million from those funds. The formulas are complicated and a lot of money is at stake for our students. The Baltimore Sun is correct to highlight the issue's importance, both for the gubernatorial race as well as the legislature. The membership of the commission and some further information is available here.
The federal government has mandated a new regional safety oversight commission for Metrorail. I was involved in negotiating the final legislation along with other Maryland legislators, Maryland executive branch officials, and our partners in Virginia and D.C. My companion legislation regarding the Maryland commissioners was also signed by the Governor. The Washington Post recently provided an update on the implementation of the Commission.
Once again, all three major credit rating agencies have rated Maryland bonds AAA. As I have written before, the financial crisis demonstrates that the credit rating process has many flaws. But banks and investors still value it and the AAA rating allows Maryland to borrow money more cheaply for major investments, such as school construction.
All three reports credit Maryland's economy and budgetary processes. They also favorably cite a new law (HB 503) I helped work on to reform how we account for and spend non-withholding income tax revenue, which is particularly volatile and hard to project.
Two concerns raised worth noting. First, Fitch Ratings, Inc. (one of the rating agencies) discuses the potential negative impacts of Medicaid changes at the federal level causing potential increased spending by the state. Second, all three reports provide some caution regarding unfunded pension liability, but still credit the state with many reforms that have put pensions on the right track.
Two years ago, when I put forward the Board of Public Works Transparency Act to require public notice of proposed BPW budget cuts, some opponents claimed it could threaten the state's bond rating. Two years after the law's enactment, it is clear that narrative was false and the rating agencies still credit the state's ability to make mid-year budget reductions, despite the process becoming more transparent. You can read the three rating agency reports on the Treasurer's website.
I have spent a great deal of time on state policy for energy storage devices, which many experts view as critical to wide-scale deployment of renewable energy sources. Currently, there are two efforts underway. The Public Service Commission has an energy storage workgroup considering regulatory barriers. The Power Plant Research Program--in response to successful legislation I drafted--is conducting a study of incentives for energy storage devices. As those two efforts continue, Maryland has also adopted a small energy storage tax credit. The Maryland Energy Administration is soliciting input on that tax credit's implementation. Click here for more information.
The state is investing funds in traffic congestion management on I-270. The State Highway Administration has asked me to share this information regarding the specific projects and work being undertaken over the next few years.
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