2017 Legislative Priorities for AFT-Maryland

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AFT-Maryland represents more than 20,000 state and municipal workers, including 9,000 educational workers in and around the City of Baltimore. During this legislative session, there are issues that are of particular concern to our members.

Full state funding for Maryland Public Schools / BRFA.

When the Governor announced his operating budget, he proposed a $42 million cut in state aid to Baltimore City Public Schools, the third year in a row city schools would be facing a cut. While it is true that most of that cut is due to reductions in enrollment and an increase in city property values, in previous years, Governors have been able to mitigate the harm these cuts would do to the city—and other counties—by appropriating extra grant money for public schools in need.

In addition, in 2016 the legislature created a grant program to create or expand extended day or after school activities in Baltimore City, as well as extend hours at Enoch Pratt Free Libraries. Governor Hogan, in his Budgetary Reconciliation and Financing Act, is proposing to eliminate these programs that help citizens and children in Baltimore City take advantage of services that they so desperately need.

AFT-Maryland vociferously opposes the $42 million proposed cut to Baltimore City Schools in Governor Hogan’s budget and urges legislators to reject his plan to cut funding for vital community and education programs in Baltimore City.

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Invest in the Public Employees that make Maryland work.

Over the summer, the state’s joint Spending Affordability Committee recommended a 1% COLA raise for state employees, in addition to the usual annual step increases. The Governor instead has decided to balance his budget largely on the backs of state workers by completely ignoring the advice of this bi-partisan committee, and has refused to allow for any increases in pay for state employees. Without even a COLA adjustment, the Governor’s budget essentially amounts to a pay cut for Maryland’s workers. In addition, the agencies will most likely continue the practice of PIN attrition—eliminating state employee positions completely—to meet executive budget mandates. This causes an already overtaxed state agency workforce to do even more with less.

AFT-Maryland members strongly urge the legislature to follow the recommendations of the spending affordability committee to restore the step increases and COLA adjustments for state workers, and to oppose PIN abolishment.

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School assessments and an overall cap on standardized testing.

AFT-Maryland members believe we should utilize the opportunity afforded the state through the Every Student Succeeds Act to improve public education. This includes putting a cap of 2% on mandated standardized testing, so students can spend less time testing and more time actually learning in the classroom.

The AFT-Maryland supports, and asks legislators to support, bills that mandate that time spent taking a standardized test does not interfere with the overall education of a public school student.

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Opposition of public school privatization and education voucher programs.

Members of AFT-Maryland believe school voucher programs—like Maryland’s BOOST program—undermine public education by taking away dollars that could go to an already underfunded statewide system. BOOST is not helping the original students it was intended to help (nearly 80% of the scholarship recipients already attended a private school the previous year), and it funnels public dollars to private, unaccountable schools while doing little to improve the educational outcomes for Maryland’s students.

AFT-Maryland urges state representatives cut BOOST funding from the Governor’s budget.

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Indoor air quality in the state agencies.
Indoor Air Quality in State Owned and Leased Buildings Act: SUPPORT

The AFT-Maryland is working with Delegate Lafferty on a bill that will require the commissioner of labor to promulgate a comprehensive indoor air quality standard that requires state owned and/or leased buildings to develop a written plan describing how the employer will address indoor air quality.  The standard shall conform to state-of-the-art guidance and recommendations of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, US Environmental Protection Agency, the US Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and The National Institute of Standards and Technology.

AFT-Maryland asks for legislative support for a bill concerning Indoor Air Quality in State Owned and Leased Buildings.

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Protecting Maryland’s Best-in-Nation Charter School Law.

Just as he did 2 years ago, Governor Hogan plans on introducing a charter school bill that would radically undermine Maryland's strong charter school law. What makes Maryland's charter school law so strong is that close local oversight forestalls the waste, fraud, and abuse plaguing charter schools in different states. Governor Hogan's changes would bring Maryland charter schools more in line with states like Pennsylvania and Ohio, states that are looking to actually curb the fraud and fiscal mismanagement that plagues their system.

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Protect Our Schools Act of 2017.

With the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, the Federal Government has given each state the ability to forge its own educational path. This path includes authoring a plan for measuring accountability and student achievement and growth. In previous years, accountability was measured in the form of student scores on standardized tests. Studies have shown that this is a poor method for evaluating public education, and HB978/SB871, the Protect Our Schools Act of 2017, is intended to correct this mistake, and implement accountability measures and intervention strategies that have been proven to get results.

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Other bills of interest to AFT-Maryland members (click here).

For more information, contact Todd Reynolds, Political Coordinator, AFT-Maryland, at treynolds@aftmd.org.