Yep, a lot of the news is how the newly inked Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) will affect the nation and, of course, Maryland.
But there are also changes in living costs, up, down and sideways, and how some of those (plus the usual horse-race fixation, to which we, dear progressive readers, are not immune) change the odds in electoral scenarios.
And students and teachers, as Labor Day approaches. Will there be a match?
AT THE FEDERAL BARRICADES
Our national affiliate, People's Action, sends us the state by state fact sheet on the Inflation Reduction Act’s impact; here is the one for Maryland. https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Maryland.pdf
Also, People's Action's federal government specialist Megan E reminds us that “The country’s seven biggest health insurance corporations took in $620.6 billion in revenue, much of it from taxpayers (our emphasis) in the first half of 2022.” Just the first half…
Midterms – Dems are looking more cheerful about November; POLITICO Playbook highlights this: [nationally] Democrats have almost eliminated the enthusiasm gap with Republicans. “According to the survey, 68% of Republicans express a high level of interest in the upcoming election … versus 66% for Democrats,” notes Mark Murray. “That 2-point GOP advantage is down from 17 points in March and 8 points in May.” Biggest reason of course is the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade; Bloomburg headlined “Democrats Sense New Optimism for Blunting GOP’s Midterm Gains ” And another poll thing: Voters ranked “threats to democracy” as a more important issue than cost of living.”
Speaking of the cost of living, one of the big factors is of course housing. The news on that is not getting better as renters, downhill from rising home-ownership costs, are at the mercy of landlords.
POLITICO Playbook rounded it up last week:
Headed in the Wrong Direction — Homebuyer confidence dropped again this month in the U.S., marking the eighth consecutive month of decline — a streak last reached in 2007, per new data from the National Association of Home Buyers/Wells Fargo. More from Bloomberg
— And renters are facing increasing precarity, according to a new Freddie Mac study that finds 62% of survey respondents “were concerned about not being able to pay for their housing in the next year,” per CNN.
NYT econ columnist Paul Krugman has one explanation: the pandemic caused many to want more space for working from home. That had a cascade effect.
And a little more housing news below in our Maryland section. Or you can read it now.
AND IN MARYLAND
STATE JOBLESS RATE FALLS TO 3.9%: Maryland’s unemployment rate fell to 3.9% in July as the state added 12,000 jobs, marking its lowest point since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The state has added 78,600 jobs since this time last year, marking a 33% gain. More than half of those positions, about 44,000 jobs, were added in 2022, according to preliminary survey data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Baltimore Sun.
The Forever Exec Race: By Sunday night, with re-counted and audited results from early voting and 12 of 13 election districts on Election Day, incumbent Marc Elrich (D) has gained one additional vote and challenger David Blair has gained two. After initial certification of the July 19 primary results, Elrich led the race by 35 votes. Maryland Matters.
Note that Maryland Reporter tacked on the startling headline BLAIR UP BY ONE VOTE, when the news was that Elrich was still ahead by the landslide margin of about 35 votes but Blair gained on him by adding two votes while Elrich only added one with the recount down to the bitter end..
We’ve had a lot to say about how when the feds make new money available to states, it’s only the beginning – those counties and cities with scaled-up planning and grant-writing capabilities tend to get at the front of the line. Maryland Matters reports on a discussion at the recent Maryland Associate of Counties annual conference about how this might work out with the Inflation Reduction Act.
“Maryland is guaranteed to receive at least $7.8 billion in federal infrastructure funding over the next five years. The money will be used to rehab roads and bridges, upgrade water and sewer systems, and bolster mass transit in what the White House and congressional Democrats have hailed as an historic investment.
"Counties across the nation also will be eligible to compete for approximately $100 billion in additional funds.
"With so much money ready to flow, it was no surprise that a panel discussion that included the head of Gov. Larry Hogan’s “infrastructure sub-cabinet” was one of the most highly anticipated events of this week’s Maryland Association of Countries summer conference."
Maryland hasn’t emerged from being a news desert yet, despite all the new nameplates… it took the NYT to spot this case in Baltimore --Home value assessed according to skin color
Maryland Matters reported last week that jump-start money in the big reconciliation bill can push the retrofitting of older homes to be climate-positive.
“The broad Inflation Reduction Act, which Biden signed into law Tuesday afternoon, includes legislation from U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) called the Hope for HOMES Act. That measure provides tax rebates and other incentives for homeowners to retrofit their homes to reduce carbon emissions and also makes money available for community organizations to create job training programs for contracting companies that do home repair and rehabilitation work”.
Community schools – where enhanced services bring neighborhood and school up together – are a core element in the Blueprint for schools improvement in Maryland. Jeff Bryant, a longtime student of schools that work around the country, gives us a lot to think about with this look at community schools in Montgomery County.
But, But...DC’s Economic Policy Institute, which has tracked teacher compensation for 18 years, shows one reason that teachers are leaving – or not returning to – the profession post-Pandemic. “Simply put, teachers are paid less (in weekly wages and total compensation) than their nonteacher college-educated counterparts, and the situation has worsened considerably over time.” Nationally the gap hit a new high in 2021. In EPI’s state-by-state compilation, Maryland, generally ranked one of the nation's wealthiest states, falls right in the middle of states (20.3 percent lower than private sector salaries) where teacher compensation is markedly less than private-sector salaries for those with comparable educational credentials.
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