It's an honor to serve you as your Maryland state delegate, representing District 15. As your representative in the Maryland House of Delegates, I promise to work hard to ensure that your interests are represented in Annapolis. I will continue to focus on those priorities that are most important to you — priorities such as investing in our infrastructure to grow our economy, protecting our environment, educating our children to compete in the global economy, and supporting our working families.
Gov. Larry Hogan became Maryland’s 62nd governor and 58 new delegates and 11 new senators became a part of the 188 members of the 2015 Maryland General Assembly. I look forward to working with Governor Hogan and with my colleagues on both sides of the legislative aisle to address our state’s challenges and advance our shared priorities.
GOVERNOR HOGAN'S PROPOSED BUDGET
Governor Hogan’s budget proposes a number of reductions in essential services to address our State’s more than a $800 million budget shortfall:
$200 million cut to Medicaid funding
$144 million cut to education funding and 50 percent reduction in a geographical formula that provides additional funding for K-12 education to districts where the cost of education is higher causing Montgomery County to lose $25 million;
Cuts to higher education will result in a 20 percent increase in tuition at the University Maryland for the next four years;
2 percent across-the-board reduction to spending in every state agency including elimination of raises for state employees;
Elimination and delay of $285 million in transportation projects across the state.
As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I will be looking very closely at these reductions and will work very closely with the Montgomery County Delegation to find ways to restore any budget cuts that will negatively affect our county. The Maryland State Constitution requires the governor submit a balanced budget. The legislature may not add to the budget or move money from one program to another but we may reduce or restrict particular appropriations. You can find out more about the governor’s proposed budget by visiting the Department of Budget and Management.
On Friday, Jan. 30, the Stella Werner Council Office Building was overflowing with members of our community who came to testify and offer their comments on the County Executive’s bill MC 24-15 which would create an Independent Transit Authority (ITA) in Montgomery County to be funded by a new transit tax that would not be counted against the charter cap limiting the amount of revenue the county can collect. As a result of the testimony heard at this hearing, the county executive withdrew this bill for further consideration. This is how our democracy works for its citizens and how citizens shape our policies.
I strongly believe that transportation improvements must include all modes of travel including highways, transit, sidewalks, and bicycle facilities. As vice-chair of the Transportation and Environment Subcommitte, I will be looking closely at all bills that affect transportation in our county. In District 15, this means congestion relief for Clarksburg and Germantown residents with improvements to I-270, local highway projects, and construction of the Corridor Cities Transitway which will bring knowledge based jobs to the Life Science City.
Working families are the backbone of our county. As a working parent I know how important family friendly policies are to the continued economic growth of Maryland. I will work hard to ensure our labor policies are modernized to reflect the 21st century economy, where employees must balance work and family. This session several important bills will be introduced that support working families, like SB 40- Labor and Employment -Maryland Healthy Working Families Act. I believe common-sense paid sick days policy benefits employers, employees and customers.
SAVE MONEY, SAVE ENERGY
This is a reminder to take advantage of Maryland's tax free weekend for Energy Star products beginning Saturday, Feb. 14, and ending Monday, Feb. 16. I am proud to announce because of the passage of a bill I sponsored in the 2014 Session (HB768), this year LED lights will be added to the list of tax exempt product.
LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK
I encourage you to contact me and let me know about the issues that are facing your community, so that I can be your voice in Annapolis. From time to time I will be sending you updates on important issues that are being considered during this legislative session which ends April 13, 2015. You can find out more about the legislation that I am sponsoring by visiting my Maryland General Assembly web page. I welcome your feedback.
My door is always open and my wonderful staff are also available to assist you.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.