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DAT struggles with personnel shortages

Of interest to our MPEC members:

State Auditors find that the Department of Assessments and Taxation has not been able to perform physical inspections of properties in many years, nor has it been able to review or audit business personal property taxes or homeowner tax credits. The secretary of DAT argues that this is because of personnel shortages and budget cuts to the department.

Read more at the Maryland Reporter.

2014 Legislative Priorities for AFT-Maryland and Affiliates

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

  • Job Protections for Maryland’s Educators: Higher Education Collective Bargaining
  • The Correctional Officers Bill of Rights
  • Workplace Violence Prevention
  • Full Pension Funding

Read more:

State moving all employee emails to the cloud.

54,000 state employees are having their email and scheduling software switched to Google. The state signed a $51 million dollar deal with Google in 2011. There may be some initial glitches with the new system, though AFSCME has said they haven't heard of any specific complaints yet.

More at the Baltimore Sun.

1/21/14 Todd Reynolds, Political Coordinator.

Governor announces his legislative package.

O'Malley rolled out his legislative package Monday night, and highlights according to news sources included an increase in the minimum wage ($10.10, indexed to inflation), expand pre-k participation, improve security at state-run jails, more help for victims of domestic abuse, and a bill that would deem 20,000 acres of state-owned land as protected lands, preventing development to occur on those lands.

The governor is scheduled to give his State of the State speech on Thursday.

State assembly budget expert says O'Malley's budget savings may not be enough.

Warren Dechenaux, the Maryland Legislature's top budget analyst, testified before the assembly yesterday that O'Malley's budget cushion of $30 million may not be enough to cover unexpected spending, which has averaged $145 million in the past few years (and is expected to include things like increased cost of defendants at bail hearings, as required by a new court decision).

In addition, the balancing act by O'Malley's last budget includes tapping into reserves of the employee health benefit fund, and lowering state contributions by $100 million.

Brown proposes moratorium on outdated standardized testing.

The Maryland School Assessments (MSA) tests that are given to Maryland
students are based on curricula that is being replaced, so Anthony Brown announced yesterday that the state should ask for a waiver until the new Common Core Curriculum is implemented.

O'Malley and stated education superintendent Lillian Lowery oppose a moratorium.

via the Baltimore Sun.

1/17/14 Todd Reynolds, Political Coordinator