Special Session Update

Friends,

Governor O’Malley recently called a special session of the Maryland General Assembly which drew to a close yesterday afternoon with the passage of the Budget and Reconciliation Financing Act and the revenue bills. Had these bills not passed, $436 million in additional cuts to the state budget would have gone into effect this year. Make no mistake: These pieces of legislation were far from perfect, but the alternative was far worse.

What would have happened had we not acted? $436 million in cuts with the following consequences:

  • Job losses in the private sector. The highly successful $8 million biotechnology research and development tax credit, and the $10.4 million stem cell research program would have both been eliminated; disproportionately and negatively affecting Montgomery County.
  • Job losses in the public sector. Approximately 400 state jobs would have been eliminated, and state employees would have been forced to pay an additional $15 million for healthcare benefits.
  • Potential downgrade of Maryland’s AAA bond rating. Maryland is one of only three states that has maintained a AAA bond rating since the ratings began.
  • A 10-13% increase in college tuition. In Maryland, college tuition is still affordable for middle class families. Keeping higher education affordable is a must if we are to maintain our educated and qualified workforce–a serious economic advantage.
  • A 10% cut in community college funding. Our community colleges are some of the best in the country. Maintaining this affordable option is common sense, and the right thing to do.
  • A $138 million cut in K-12 education funding through the elimination of the Geographic Cost of Education Index (GCEI) which is a primary reason Maryland public schools have been ranked number one in the nation four years running.
  • A $20.8 million cut in local law enforcement funding.

The list goes on and on. To help avoid this we raised income taxes on individuals making over $100,000, and families making over $150,000. 84% of Marylanders did not have their taxes increased.

Was this a difficult vote for me? Yes. Do I think I made the right call? Absolutely. In these fiscal times we are faced with profoundly laborious decisions. But in these times we are also left to answer who we want to be as a people, as a community, as a state. When times are tough do we have the will to buckle down and protect our number one ranked school system, the safety of our communities, our investments in the future, our higher education systems, the safety of those most in need? Yesterday shows that we do.

Best,
Shane

On the Signing of my Conflict Minerals Bill

Friends,

Earlier this week, the Enough Project published the following blog post on the signing of the conflict minerals legislation we worked so hard on this session. It was extremely rewarding to see this bill signed into law, and I appreciate you taking a few moments to read what they had to say. You can read the post below or connect directly here.

Best,

Shane

 

Gov. O’Malley Signs Maryland’s Conflict Minerals Bill

Posted by Aaron Hall on May 03, 2012

On May 2, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed into law the Maryland State Procurement and Congo Conflict Minerals Bill, making Maryland the second state to pass such legislation.

The law addresses the link between the minerals in electronics products and the ongoing violence in eastern Congo. It requires that the state of Maryland does not conduct business with companies that fail to comply with the federal laws on conflict minerals passed in 2010 as a provision of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act.  This provision requires publicly listed companies that use conflict minerals—defined as tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold—to disclose whether or not they source the material from the Democratic Republic of Congo or any of its neighboring countries. Further, it requires that if companies are sourcing from this region that they engage in due diligence measures to determine if their procurement is directly or indirectly financing armed conflict.

The state law adds a powerful incentive for companies to comply with federal law by denying them procurement contracts with the state of Maryland if found to be negligent.  State Delegate Shane Robinson from Maryland’s 39th District in Montgomery, County, who introduced the bill, has led the way for a conflict-free Maryland.

“This law shows that Maryland cares about the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo and that we have a responsibility to do business with companies that value the social consequences of their decisions,” Robinson said. “Hopefully, more state legislatures will pass similar laws that send a message that corporations must be held accountable for social, economic, and environmental impacts at home and abroad in order to earn state contracts.”

The continuous passage of state-level legislation in the U.S. shows a growing commitment from consumers and lawmakers to demand that elected officials and corporate citizens be held responsible for the global impact of investment and supply chain management.  Nowhere is this more important than in eastern Congo, where this demand is manifesting itself in the creation of a reformed mineral sector that will support community and economic growth and decrease violent conflict driven by the trade of conflict minerals.

Maryland is the second state to pass conflict minerals legislation, following California which passed a similar law last year. Conflict minerals state legislation is also currently under consideration in Massachusetts.

By Authority: Friends of Shane Robinson; Mary Robinson, Treasurer.