Delegate Kathleen Dumais

Democrat, Maryland House of Delegates District 15

Maryland General Assembly – 2011 Session Highlights

The Budget. This year, the House of Delegates focused on addressing the State’s structural deficit; ensuring long-term viability of the retiree benefit system; and, funding education programs to ensure a strong future for the State’s knowledge-based economy.  Despite improving revenue projections following the recession, we took a conservative approach to budgeting for next year.

Conservative Spending Plan. We reduced the structural deficit by 42% (which was projected to be $2 billion at the beginning of the session).  The FY12 Budget leaves the State with over $730 million in cash reserves, including the Rainy Day Fund.  Maryland is one of only 4 states in the country that has not dipped into its Rainy Day Fund.  The budget also eliminates over $6.5 billion in long-term retiree healthcare liability over the next 10 years.   We maintain our Triple-A bond rating.

  • Public education. Our schools have been ranked #1 in the nation for three years running and we intend to keep that ranking. To do this, we restored funds to education that the Governor proposed cutting, and increased education funding over previous years. As a result, public education will continue to represent 40% of the state’s general fund budget.
  • Higher education. We protected our $1.2 billion investment in our public colleges and universities, which will prevent drastic tuition increases and keep higher education affordable for our residents. Maryland’s institutions of higher education are some of the top in the nation. This investment will keep our schools strong and help prepare our students to compete in a global workforce.
  • Capital budget. Children need safe and modern classrooms to have a proper education. Statewide, we invested over $300 million in school construction and over $975 million in our overall Capital Budget, which will fund road repairs, library and hospital construction and other projects while creating badly needed jobs for Marylanders.
  • Healthcare programs for low income families. We cut the budget without cutting services or eligibility for services through Medicaid. We also found an additional $5 million to help reduce the waiting list for services that benefit disabled Marylanders and their families. And, by increasing the sales tax on alcohol, an additional $15 million will be going to the Developmental Disabilities Administration for services.
  • Supports Transportation System: Provides an additional $13 million to counties and municipalities for road maintenance funding.    Requires any new transfer from the Transportation Trust Fund to be repaid within 5 years to protect the sustainability of the State’s transportation system.  While almost all of the General Funds have been repaid to the Transportation Trust Fund over the past 28 years, a robust transportation system is key to attracting businesses to Maryland.
  • Invests in Economic Development to Jump Start the Economy: Preserves funding for business loan and loan guaranty programs.  Funds the BioTech Tax Credit, stem cell research programs and provides funding for Nanotechnology.  Maryland was ranked 2nd by the US Chamber of Commerce and National Chamber Foundation based on growth and investment in STEM jobs and R&D investment.

Other Initiatives:

Investing In Our Future. Maryland employers created 36,000 jobs last year, but we need to do more to stimulate growth in our knowledge-based economy. We passed InvestMaryland legislation to help give start-up companies a hand. InvestMaryland creates a public-private partnership that will infuse $75 million in capital into our business sector, fueling job creation. This legislation will also continue to signal to the business community that Maryland is serious about job creation.

Holding Energy Companies Responsible. This past year, many Maryland families and businesses underwent power outages that spanned from hours to several days. The Maryland Electricity Service Quality and Reliability Act will compel electric utilities to improve their service quality or face stiff financial penalties. In addition, this legislation establishes state goals based on national standards and requires each company to meet these standards.

Healthcare Exchange. We passed multiple bills to implement federal health care reform at the state level.  The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange Act establishes governance, structure, and funding for an independent unit of government designed to reduce the number of uninsured and facilitate the purchase and sale of qualified health plans in the individual market.

Direct Wine Shipping. We passed a compromise bill that will finally allow direct wine shipping from wineries outside of Maryland.  While the bill still does not allow direct wine shipping into Maryland from out-of-state retailers, this is a major step in changing Maryland’s archaic alcohol laws.

DREAM Act. This bill allows specified individuals, including undocumented immigrants, to receive in-state tuition rates at public institutions of higher education with a variety of conditions, and, extends the period in which honorably  discharged veterans may present evidence to qualify for in-state tuition rates.

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