Wednesday, 15 June 2011 14:46
Delegate Susan Krebs' opening remarks to the assembled group at the South Carroll Business Association luncheon indicated that she is actively seeking their input. She wants to hear from her constituents about issues that affect their businesses and families so that she can use that information to influence legislature.
The top priorities that Delegate Krebs would like to see addressed at the State level include:
Get the State’s fiscal house in order -- there has been a deficit since 2002, even with continued tax increases
Restore integrity to the transportation fund
Revamp the State pension system
Improve the business climate to encourage job growth
Instead of focusing on these issues, the O’Malley administration made social issues a priority, spending many hours on:
Transgender bill to add as a protected class
In-state tuition for illegal immigrants
According to Delegate Krebs, the number one importance should be to develop a budget that Maryland can afford. The deficit is currently $1.6 billion, and has been growing steadily in recent years. This year’s budget was $34 billion, up 3% from last year, despite “enhancements” (taxes and fees) added to the budget. Maryland ranks 4th in the nation as highest taxing state, and this was before the added increases.
Delegate Krebs pointed out recent legislation that she termed “bothersome”:
Hospital assessment of $250 million that will increase health insurance rates
Nursing home assessment increasing fees to patients
$35 billion shortfall in State pensions and other post-employment benefits
State employees to give more to pensions, but placing that money into the general fund
All State employees are mandated to join the union and pay dues
Collective bargaining rights to home health care workers, requiring them to pay union dues, even though not state employees, but contractors
Legislation that did not pass this year:
Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act: This would have been subsidized by rate payers at an average cost of $8 – $9 per month over 20 to 25 years. Krebs believes this should be market driven, and not subsidized.
Invest Maryland: While supported by the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, Krebs believes it is bad business for Maryland.
Septic Bill: This would require a waste water treatment plant for every subdivision of 5 or more homes. Approximate cost to build is $1 million, and $20,000 to operate per year. Would add inordinate costs to housing.
E-verify: Electronic method to verify residents’ legal status for employment.
A Special Legislative Session will be held in October. While the agenda for this is not yet known, it is suspected that redistricting will be addressed at this time, as well as discussion of shifting all teacher pension plans to local governments.
Regarding the illegal immigrant tuition petition, Krebs said there is misinformation being circulated. It is widely quoted that eligible students’ parents are required to have paid state taxes for 3 years. However, the verbiage of the bill says they are required to “file Maryland income tax returns”, which is not the same thing as “paying taxes”. In order to file a tax return, they must have worked legally in the state; but because they are illegal residents, this isn’t possible. Ironically, students who graduate can’t legally work in the state either, unless they are citizens, have a green card, or are here legally. The reasoning supporting the in-state tuition for illegal immigrants breaks down when the basis it is built on is illegal.
With the Maryland State reserve fund at an all time low, Krebs says it’s time to fire up the economic engine of small businesses. This can’t be done by continuing to tax and regulate them excessively. She concluded her talk with the request to pass along to her anecdotal stories about issues that affect residents. She will seek to share that information on the floor during open legislation in an effort to gain support.
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