News_You_Can_Use_graphic_(2).pngIt's getting and spending, as usual, on the top of the headlines. Maryland needs more money for schools but boards are spending it in sometimes mysterious ways. Meanwhile how do we fix the state's roads when (we hope, soon) E-vehicles dominate the state's traffic pattern and gas tax revenues plummet?  Plus, Larry Hogan's toll lane plans survive in reduced form and odd, distant whiffs raise new interest in our air quality. It's News You Can Use, even if it's not always cheerful.


In Future, State May Back Away from Gas Tax for New Revenue Streams: Decreases in revenues flowing to the state’s Transportation Trust Fund could trigger dramatic changes in how the state pays for future road and transportation projects. Moving to a surcharge based on the number of miles driven is one change the state’s new Transportation Revenue and Infrastructure Needs Commission could suggest to the legislature over the next two years. Maryland Matters.

 Breathe-able? Maybe, But Be Aware, and Wary

We Marylanders and our near neighbors had some bad, avoid-the-outdoors air show up from all kinds of unexpected places in 2023 (not that it’s done surprising us yet). Bay Journal explains why it seems a little different and has some cool maps.

Auditors Raise Questions On School Contract Spending: Auditors keep a close eye on school district contracting in Maryland — and if you’re wondering why, just look at what happened in May in Montgomery County. After auditors raised suspicions, the district’s former assistant director of transportation pleaded guilty to stealing over $320,000 from the county’s school system over a span of at least five years by misusing district purchasing cards and mismanaging a contract for the purchase of school buses. Capital News Service/

Mysterious Vendor Payments Big & Small: Here is a look at some of the most mysterious expenses found as we examined more than 26,000 vendor payments of $25,000 or more made by Maryland’s school districts between the 2018-2019 and 2021-2022 school years, including $694.1 million Arundel schools paid to something called “Electronic Funds Transf Program.” More -- With employee health care costs leading the way, Maryland’s public school districts spent $21.1 billion between fiscal years 2019 and 2022 not on teacher and staff salaries, but on everything else that keeps the schools running. That’s the bottom line if you add up all 26,000-plus vendor payments of $25,000 or more made by Maryland’s school districts between the 2018-2019 and 2021-2022 school years. Capital News Service/

State Looks For Fed Funds To Rebuild Legion Bridge: State transportation officials said they will seek more than $3 billion in federal funding to ease congestion around the American Legion Bridge, a move that could potentially provide traffic relief in the region without privately managed toll lanes but the application does not preclude a public-private partnership model favored by former Gov. Larry Hogan (R). Maryland Matters

SNAP Benefit Cuts Hurt Low Income Families: National and Maryland-based hunger relief organizations are grappling with the fact that millions in federal dollars for food assistance programs are no longer available low-income families who relied on them through the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the fact that many families still struggle to afford basic needs. The Food Research & Action Center, a nonprofit aiming to reduce poverty-related hunger, said that the reduced funds result in the average SNAP benefits falling to about $6 a person a day. Danielle Brown/Maryland Matters.

 EEOC Rules on Accommodations for Pregnant Workers Still Getting Smoothed Out, But Here’s an Explainer

Almost two months after workplace accommodations for pregnant workers became law, the rules surrounding what employers can and cannot do have yet to be finalized — but that doesn’t mean the protections are not in place. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s proposed regulations are expected to offer more clarity once finalized, but workers can still access their rights under the new Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and employers are still required to understand the law and follow it. Independent Report/Maryland Matters

 Frederick College Faculty Seeks To Form Union: The full-time faculty at Frederick Community College on Monday filed paperwork with the state Public Employee Relations Board declaring their intent to form a union. The board is now tasked with verifying that more than 50% of the employees desire the union to be their exclusive representative. Ceoli Jacoby/The Frederick News Post.



‘Who’s Going To Work There?’: Lawmakers Grapple With Labor Shortages

State legislators from across the country point to the labor shortage as a major concern. While they have been pushing job training and career readiness programs, they increasingly are addressing other factors that can keep people from joining the workforce, such as a lack of child care, affordable housing or mental health services. Some want to attract more immigrants. StateLine

The Child Care Cliff Is Real and Getting Closer

When the federal stabilization funds run out at the end of September and child care providers can no longer rely on this much-needed funding, experts say the consequences could be immense. A recent report by The Century Foundation, a progressive think tank, found an estimated 3.2 million children will eventually lose child care if those federal funds are not replaced. Hechinger Report via Daily Yonder

Life In A Rural ‘Ambulance Desert’ Means Sometimes Help Isn’t On The Way

We know not all “ambulance deserts” are in rural areas. But rural health care services like ambulances and hospitals are often spread few and far between, research shows. A shortage of services puts residents' health at risk and even affects local economies, experts say. KFF Health News via Route Fifty


AND WITH THE FEDS: a Monday update from People’s Action –

Slow but Steady on Prescription Price Controls: The Biden administration will begin negotiations with pharmaceutical companies to lower the price that Medicare pays for the drugs next month. President Biden will announce the names of the first 10 drugs tomorrow. As we noted last week, several pharmaceutical companies have sued the administration to stop this process and more lawsuits are expected after the drugs are announced. HCAN has a list of likely drugs ; here are ways you can productively spread the word about corporate foot-dragging


On The Housing Front  -- PoliticoPro & Politico Money covered the House letter that People’s Action’s Homes Guarantee campaign made happen: “The rent is too damn high (pt. ∞) — Our Katy O’Donnell: ‘Eight House Democrats on Wednesday joined Senate colleagues in calling on the Biden administration’s top housing regulator to limit rent increases at apartment units backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.’”

This opinion piece in Barron’s argues that there is not a housing shortage, there is an affordability problem and that the focus on building new homes won’t solve the problem. Instead policymakers should focus on bringing up wages and other housing supports. 

In addition to the solutions offered by the authors, we would argue that rent regulation is also needed to control rent inflation. In Why Economists Say Rent Control Works, the LA Progressive reported on a letter by 32 economists in support of rent regulation that People's Action’s Homes Guarantee campaign coordinated. 

USA today ran an article on rent control efforts across the country. California & Massachusetts will seek to repeal statewide laws that limit localities ability to enact rent regulation. 

 Compiled by PA’s fed affairs maven Megan Essaheb

woody woodruff


M.A. and Ph.d. from University of Maryland Merrill College of Journalism, would-be radical, sci-fi fan... retired to a life of keyboard radicalism...