State news roundup for May 19, 2012
Maryland – General Assembly avoids education cuts in special session
This time when the General Assembly adjourned, the work to fully fund our schools, and protect critical services and investments had been done. The third and final day of a scripted and predictable special session concluded with approval from the House of Delegates on the three bills that constituted the budget agreement to avoid the Doomsday Budget cuts.
After another round of debate, the House took final action on the budget bills:
- SB 1301/HB 1801: Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act of 2012
This is the reconciliation bill that implements fund transfers, the pension sharing arrangement that phases in a shift of employer normal costs over four years, and allows for the full funding of the Geographic Cost of Education Index, which includes $128 million in state aid for education.
- SB 1302/HB 1802: State and Local Revenue and Financing Act of 2012
The revenue bill includes a tax increase that is targeted to individuals with more than $100K per year and families (joint tax filers) with more than $150K per year in net taxable Maryland income. The higher tax rates apply only to income in excess of the thresholds. The Department of Legislative Services reports this impacts 14% of Maryland taxpayers.
100k/150k – from 4.75% to 5.00%
125k/175k – from 4.75% to 5.25%
150k/225k – from 5.00% to 5.50%
250k/300k – from 5.00% to 5.75%
500k+ – from 5.50% to 5.75%
Revenue package also changes personal exemptions for federal adjusted gross income brackets as follows:
100k/150k – Current exemption allowance of $2,400 to $1,600
125k/175k – Current of $1,800 to $800
150k+/200k+ – Personal exemptions eliminated
- SB 1303/HB 1803: Creation of a State Debt – Qualified Zone Academy Bonds
This bond bill adds $15 million for school construction bonds. While it was part of the budget bill that passed the General Assembly, an Attorney General’s ruling advised to pass a clean bill during the special session so there would not be any issues with the delay of implementation of the entire budget.
MSEA President Clara Floyd stated, “Keeping our schools and state on the path of success requires making hard choices and putting our children first. Thank you to Governor O’Malley and the legislators who stood up, stopped the doomsday budget, and protected Maryland’s great schools, vital services, and excellent quality of life.”
Visit MarylandEducators.org for more information.
Florida – Video created by Honors and AP students who were forced into remedial classes after failing standardized test
This video was created by students in Freedom High School in Orange County. All of these students are outstanding achievers but failed to pass the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. As a result, the students in the video were placed in remedial reading classes – although they had not been struggling with reading in their honors and advanced placement classes.
Find out more at FEAWeb.org.
New York – Voters approve 98% of school budgets
Despite deep cuts to programs triggered by the first year of the state’s property tax cap, voters gave students and their local schools their strong backing by adopting 96 percent of school budgets, New York State United Teachers reported early today.
Based on its preliminary count, NYSUT estimated the statewide passage rate will be 96 percent. Voters approved 597 school budgets, with 24 budgets going down in defeat Tuesday. Of the approximately 50 school districts that exceeded the property tax cap, voters in 24 districts returned a 60 percent supermajority, passing those budgets despite tax levies greater than 2 percent. A final tabulation of this year’s school budget voting should be available by mid-afternoon.
NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi said voters recognized that school districts – and teachers – sacrificed in order to put together responsible budgets. And, he said, voters know that, despite some political rhetoric, the overwhelming number of school districts provide students with a first-rate education.
“New Yorkers see their public schools are doing a terrific job, producing excellent results amid budgetary challenges resulting from the undemocratic tax cap and from the state’s failure to invest in public schools,” he said. Iannuzzi noted that, despite this year’s $805 million funding increase, three consecutive years of devastating budget cuts by Albany have slashed state support for public education by more than $3 billion.
Visit NYSUT.org to get the full story.
Illinois – Union coalition launches campaign for a fair solution on pensions
Frustrated with politicians trying to force teachers, fire fighters, nurses and other public employees alone to bear the burden of solving the state’s pension funding crisis—a crisis politicians themselves caused by failing for years to pay their share to public retirement systems—the union coalition We Are One Illinois has launched a new campaign to call for a fair solution supported by all parties.
We Are One Illinois, a coalition of unions (including IEA, IFT, AFSCME, AFL-CIO and SEIU) representing public employees from all walks of life, is attempting to provide reasonable and reasoned solutions to a pension problem caused by politicians who for decades have failed to pay their share into Illinois public retirement systems.
“Workers know there’s a pension crisis, so they’re stepping up again, offering solutions to fix pensions they paid for, to clean up a mess they didn’t create. But politicians want to take more,” says the TV spot, titled “Fair Solution.” “Tell Springfield politicians, ‘Don’t punish workers for your mistakes. Work with them to find a fair solution.’”
Visit IEANEA.org to learn how you can get involved in the fight to protect pensions
"With the country producing fewer college graduates than the economy needs and so many Americans struggling to keep up with college costs and student loan payments, it’s clearly time to make college more affordable, not less.” Read More
“The Senate Democratic budget shows a real commitment to returning to solid fiscal footing without jeopardizing the important economic gains made during the past four years and asks the wealthy and corporations to pay their fair share." High school math teacher and NEA President Dennis Van Roekel Read More