Last Friday, we passed a bill that repeals the death penalty. I am proud to live in a state that will no longer sanction execution, and I would like to thank the organizers whose tireless work made this victory possible. No longer will we have to worry that an innocent man or woman may be put to death by the state. And no longer will we have to waste money on a practice that has been outlawed by 128 countries. Maryland is continuing to move forward into the 21st century and be a part of the impetus for progress.
We also passed the budget which now heads to Senate. Here are some highlights:
- The plan continues record funding for public schools: $6 billion out of the $15.8 billion general fund will be allocated towards continuing us on the path that has resulted in Maryland schools being ranked first in the nation, $300 million of which will be earmarked for school construction. We are also dedicating funds to assure that tuition at state universities and colleges is prevented from increasing exponentially as has been the case in many other states–Maryland has gone from being the 6th costliest state in which to attend a public institution in 2007 to the 27th today. Overall, public education would receive more funding than any budget to date.
- In order to position Maryland to overcome the cuts brought on by sequestration, the rainy day reserve will be increased by 15 percent, to $920 million.
- 83 cents of every general fund dollar would be spent on education, health and public safety.
- Maryland would retain its Triple A bond rating–a signal to investors that they can remain confident in our fiscal health.
- Programs credited with allowing Maryland to recoup 80% of the jobs lost during the recession would remain funded.
- Local police aid would increase to a 20-year high and two new State Trooper classes would be formed (violent crime has decreased 25% in Maryland over the past seven years).
- Environmental programs that position Maryland at the forefront of the renewable energy revolution would be prioritized.
As always, I welcome your thoughts and encourage you to reach out to my office.