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First Click -- Maryland

First Click

Your daily download of Maryland's top political news and analysis

Tuesday, January 19, 2010:

Good morning and welcome to a new and improved version of First Click -- Maryland. To help you better navigate Maryland politics during the 90-day legislative session, we've added a concise, daily analysis of upcoming political and policy decisions. We've also begun to distill the day's many media reports into the top News You Should Know. And each weekday, First Click will include either a Look Ahead, Unspun, or other feature to help you stay best connected to the decision-making process in Annapolis. To begin receiving First Click each weekday as an email, click here.

OMalley on couch.jpgDay 5: After its first four days were devoted largely to ceremony, the real work of Maryland's General Assembly begins today. Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) has scheduled a news conference for 2:30 p.m. to outline his spending plan for the budget year beginning in July. Details of the plan leaked Monday suggest O'Malley will rely heavily on one-time fixes, such as shuffling some $900 million from special funds to the general fund, to keep from imposing cuts that may be felt deeply by residents (and voters). It also banks on Congress approving a House health-care provision that would save the state nearly $400 million. Will the governor's budget win praise or be harpooned as a gimmick by his party's fiscal conservatives? Will it provide a political opening for Republicans who so far have failed to gain traction with arguments that O'Malley has been fiscally irresponsible? Will the transfers and other measures ratchet up Maryland's debt load and limit its ability to close multibillion-dollar annual shortfalls projected through 2015?

-- Aaron C. Davis

News You Should Know

Union opposes layoffs in advance of budget release
moran photo.jpg"Union officials are bracing for potential layoffs when Gov. Martin O'Malley unveils his fiscal 2011 budget plan on Tuesday," reports The Gazette's Sean R. Sedam."We're not taking anything lightly," said Patrick Moran, director of American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees. "We think any number of layoffs is going to hurt the services being provided, and we take any layoffs seriously."

Businesses not on board on unemployment fix
"Legislation to expand unemployment eligibility and benefits requirements so the state can qualify for $126.8 million in federal stimulus funds is slated for a hearing at 3 p.m. Jan. 26 in the Senate Finance Committee," reports The Gazette's Kevin James Shay. "Many executives, including those at the Maryland Chamber of Commerce's annual Business Day in Annapolis on Friday, oppose the proposal."

Speed cameras start snaring drivers
"Maryland's drivers should be getting the hint right about now that speeding in highway construction zones will cost them," reports The Sun's Nick Madigan. "Almost 8,800 drivers were given $40 tickets during a six-week period that began Nov. 16, when state officials started photographing vehicles exceeding the speed limit by 12 mph or more on three stretches of highway marked as work zones.

Alleged Bay contamination goes unchecked
"A month after environmental groups alleged that an Eastern Shore chicken farm was polluting a Chesapeake Bay tributary, state regulators have yet to test the fouled waterway or the pile of sewage sludge said to be contaminating it, officials have acknowledged," reports The Sun's Timothy Wheeler.

Hogan invests in own campaign
Hogan mug.jpeg"Republican gubernatorial hopeful Larry Hogan said Saturday that he has put $325,000 of his own money into his campaign and is eager to formally launch his bid," reports The Post's Wagner. "Hogan, a Cabinet secretary under former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), announced an exploratory effort in September. He repeatedly has said he would not be a candidate if Ehrlich seeks a rematch with Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) this year. A decision from Ehrlich is not expected for several more weeks."

Look Ahead

  • Tuesday: Governor O'Malley will outline his budget proposals in a news conference. He and several state lawmakers will attend the United Seniors of Maryland's 31st annual legislative rally. Several groups, including the state's largest public employees union, plan to demonstrate outside the State House over budget cuts.

  • Wednesday: The Board of Public Works meets. O'Malley releases his official budget to the legislature. Police testify before the House of Delegates' Judiciary committee on ignition interlock.
  • By Aaron C. Davis  |  January 19, 2010; 7:15 AM ET
    Categories:  Aaron C. Davis , First Click , John Wagner  
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    Next: O'Malley's budget includes 44 layoffs, furloughs


    It's time for the union (s) to realize they must suffer along with everyone else.

    Posted by: jckdoors | January 19, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

    OK, so the all the teachers in the state should be put on notice that their jobs are on the line to, just like the other state employess. But oh, that would mean going against the most powerful labor force in the state, in this election year, dream on.

    Posted by: VikingRider | January 19, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

    The un-employement insurance rate on my household help has more skyrocketed. In almost 15 years we've never had a claim.

    While it's a small amount, going from $4 a quarter to $8 a quarter it's a huge increase.

    Employers with larger payrolls in areas where they've had claims and pay a higher rate will be feeling this. Solutions that raise rates farther can't be good for Maryland.

    Posted by: RedBird27 | January 19, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

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