Good news: Maryland elections are VERY well-run. Tougher news: Maryland's K-12 students have a lot of pandemic deficits to overcome. And who is paying for school lunches these days? Much more in News You Can Use about labor's rapprochement with Wes Moore; housing pluses and minuses, the explicit threats of national GOP types if they get control in DC about tax cuts (and their perils), losing those discounted Medicare prescription deals and more. Read on.
Maryland Ranks Second Among US States in election integrity according to a report released recently by the Democracy Initiative Education Fund, a coalition of 75 civil rights, environmental and civic organizations dedicated to building democracy. The score card reflects all aspects of the voting process, from registering to vote and casting a ballot, to confidence that the vote would be counted accurately and safely. Maryland Matters
Moore, Labor Merge on Path to Election Day
Wes Moore was given a hero’s welcome at the annual Maryland AFSCME convention in Silver Spring this week.
The 200 assembled delegates from around the state, who all work for state for local governments, roared and leapt to their feet when Moore was introduced, and cheered lustily throughout his 25-minute speech. They rushed for hugs and selfies when he was done.
Moore was equally enthusiastic
It was hard to believe that just a few months earlier, AFSCME, the AFL-CIO and several other labor groups were spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to defeat Moore in the summertime Democratic primary. Maryland Matters
A Rough Road Back For Maryland’s K-12 Students. Two accounts in Maryland Reporter:
Maryland Kids See Among Steepest Declines In Math, Reading: New national data shows that Maryland students experienced some of the sharpest drops in the nation between 2019 and 2022 in mathematics and reading. The results come from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which was administered from January to March of this year to a sampling of fourth and eighth graders nationwide. Baltimore Sun.
- While 35% of the state’s fourth graders were proficient in reading in 2019, just 31% were in 2022. And in math, the percentage of proficient fourth graders dropped eight points from the 2019 results to 31% this year. “There’s no sugarcoating the results,” Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Mohammed Choudhury said. Baltimore Banner.
MD is Not Alone Here: Test Scores -- The pandemic significantly set back student reading and math scores, erasing decades of gains and widening racial disparities. National Assessment of Educational Progress results show reading scores at 1992 levels, and math scores dropped by the largest margins since NEAP was first administered in 1969. (Associated Press)
Aaaand… where is Maryland on THIS list? School Lunch: States are dedicating funding to provide free meals to students, now that pandemic-era federal aid is winding down. California and Maine have already approved extended free meal programs; Colorado voters are likely to pass a ballot measure to do the same. Expect to see similar bills pop up in Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Utah and Wisconsin next year. (Pluribus News)
A new growth plan, expected to be approved Tuesday by the Montgomery County Council, grapples with how a mostly built-out suburb of 1.1 million residents should absorb another 200,000 newcomers expected over the next 30 years. The plan acknowledges massive demographic shifts in a county struggling with how to better compete for businesses and jobs while becoming more walkable, transit-friendly and environmentally sustainable.
The 126-page plan, known as Thrive 2050, would guide decisions around land use, transportation and public infrastructure in Maryland’s most populous county for years to come. WaPo
While We’re On The Subject of Affordable Rentals – Route Fifty reports “Many low-income renters are on track to get hundreds of dollars in extra federal housing aid each month thanks to a technical change in how the Department of Housing and Urban Development calculates the prevailing residential rents in different parts of the country.
Because of a change that kicked in for the 2023 fiscal year, which began on Oct. 1, what HUD considers fair market rent rose by an average of 10% nationally, meaning voucher recipients will receive more help every month.
Much Ado about Doobies – the marijuana referendum’s supporters are doubling down, a wrapup late last week from Maryland Reporter:
‘Yes On 4’ Amps Up Rec Marijuana Message: With just weeks before midterm elections in Maryland, those in favor of the legalization of recreational marijuana are doubling down their efforts to get voters to vote “Yes” on Question Four. The “Yes On 4” campaign, Chaired by former Baltimore Raven Eugene Monroe, held a news conference Thursday. WJZ
- A recent poll by the Washington Post and the University of Maryland showed that 73% of registered Maryland voters support legalization of recreational cannabis. Capital News Service
- Meanwhile, state officials are prepping for the possible bureaucratic needs of the new law. Jeffrey Kelly, executive director of the alcohol and tobacco commission, said a possible plan would be to combine the units to enforce cannabis, alcohol and tobacco regulations. Maryland Matters
ISSUES AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL From People’s Action fed-watcher Megan E…
For those who are also enjoying inflation and want more of it… From the Washington Post: “With Democrats likely to lose control of the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate, Republicans are preparing to advance legislation that would make permanent the GOP’s 2017 changes to the tax rates paid by individuals.[the big Trump tax cut, mostly for the wealthy]. Republican officials will also push for scrapping some of the law’s specific tax increases on corporations that were designed to offset the cost of their enormous overall cut to the corporate tax rate.
“Many economists say the GOP’s plans to expand the tax cuts flies against their promises to fight inflation and reduce the federal deficit, which have emerged as central themes of their 2022 midterm campaign rhetoric. Tax cuts boost inflation just like new spending, because they increase economic demand and throw it out of balance with supply.”
[would Liz Truss still be UK PM if she had dodged this tax-cut temptation?]
Even More Exciting, Republicans promise to strip Medicare of the ability to negotiate lower prescription drug prices if they take control of Congress, according to three Democratic House members, Reps Susan Wild (D-PA), Chris Pappas (D-NH) and Steven Horsford (D-NV), who have published an oped about it.
High Rents are a Part of Inflation – read about Rep. Jamaal Bowman’s bill to control prices on core commodities here. Congress has a duty on the fiscal side to complement the Fed, which has limited tools to control inflation from just the monetary pulpit.
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