Category Archives: General Assembly

EITC Increase Dies But Northrup Grumman Gets Corporate Welfare

One of the big battles of the General Assembly’s now ended legislative session centered around proposals to increase the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and to cut taxes. Both the Senate and the House proposed an increase in the EITC. But while the Senate tied it to a cut in marginal rates for the top 11.1%, the House passed a broad based tax cut.

No EITC or Middle Class Tax Cuts

Conference negotiations resulted in stalemate, as the Senate held out for its tax cut on the wealthy. As a result, no tax cuts and no increase in the EITC. The political sense in the Senate’s position was lost on me. The Democratic-controlled Senate held the EITC hostage to a tax cut for the wealthy for which the Governor would inevitably claim all the credit. Bad policy and bad politics.

Don’t Worry, We Have Northrup Grumman’s Back

Meanwhile, the General Assembly passed a $37.5 million tax credit for Northrup Grumman. The Senate even voted down an amendment that proposed to make it nonrefundable. While the legislature made progress on other fronts, the General Assembly bombed the fundamentals on tax policy.

Heck, Republicans should have opposed this turkey too. If you really believe in the free market, then you should also believe that government should not pick winners and losers or give some businesses special treatment.

Sen. Rich Madaleno, who opposed the tax cut for the wealthy and the corporate welfare for Northrup Grumman, summed up the situation well in a tweet: “Sadly only Northrup Grumman gets expanded EITC.”

How Did They Vote?

That’s for tomorrow’s post.

 

 

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Peter Franchot Punches Back at Mike Miller

Comptroller Peter Franchot responded on Facebook to yesterday’s post on Senate President Mike Miller’s sharp criticism:

For the vast majority of my Facebook friends who have better things to do than keep up with the State Circle sandbox, and have asked me what all of this is about, here’s what Senator Miller’s latest attack boils down to. First, I’m an independent voice for the taxpayers of Maryland, who gave me this job that I love and who pay for my salary. I work for you – not for Senator Miller or any other Annapolis party boss.

Second, while I’m a lifelong progressive on social issues, I’m also a fiscal watchdog who is happy to work with responsible leaders from both parties to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent more efficiently, and to hold the line on higher taxes and unsustainable debt. For a backroom partisan like Senator Miller, who must destroy the Republicans at all costs in order to recover his grip on patronage appointments, preserve his grip on the redistricting process and such pursuits, my preference for bipartisan government is an act of heresy that is best snuffed out.

I offer this not in a spirit of anger or resentment of Senator Miller, because he is simply doing what Annapolis bosses do. I offer this simply to provide context to those who might otherwise be inclined to take the Senate President and his comments more seriously than they should. That said, enjoy your Friday and a relaxing weekend!

I’m sure Republicans are enjoying gleefully this intraparty feud. Comptroller Franchot has certainly given back as good as he got yesterday from Senate President Mike Miller. At the same time, it’s hard to imagine this statement will help improve relations with General Assembly Democrats, who wish that Franchot would carry water for them instead of the Governor more often.

A Note on Political Maneuvering

Yesterday, one had to chuckle when when Mike Miller said “I’m not going to name his name.” Though technically true, it self-evident that he was speaking of Peter Franchot. Peter Franchot’s statements that he does not harbor “a spirit of anger or resentment” after a blunt, return attack towards Miller in the name of providing “context” inspire as great an eye roll.

But let’s hold off on labeling either of these people as insincere–or at least more so than the rest of us. The media routinely places politicians in an impossible position. Would anyone be shocked if Peter Franchot felt “anger or resentment” after Mike Miller’s comments? Except Franchot would be criticized as petty if he did not disclaim being so. Yet denying this normal human response looks disingenuous, especially after his scathing critique of Miller.

And people wonder why politicians sometimes look like a pretzel married a robot.

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Miller Touts Raskin, Disses Franchot in One Stroke on Opening Day

The Maryland Senate is just not a safe space for Peter Franchot.

On the opening day of session, many luminaries come before the General Assembly to say hello and give brief remarks. When Senate President Mike Miller introduced Brian Frosh, I’m told he said enthusiastically something along the lines of “Welcome to the Attorney General. He served in this body for many years.” followed by very welcoming applause from his former colleagues.

As Franchot rose to speak, Miller introduced him offhandedly as the “tax collector” to very scattered, tepid applause. However, the chamber gave a resounding round of applause when Miller next reminded the body that Franchot used to represent Sen. Jamie Raskin and touted Raskin as someone who was going to do a terrific job as the next congressman from the Eighth District.

Miller also compared Franchot to Trump in a television interview, so I guess it’s safe to say that they’re no longer BFFs. More dangerous for Franchot is the broader estrangement from the Democratic Party that the moment revealed.

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Mike Miller Compares Peter Franchot to Trump

Bruce DePuyt of News Channel 8 got quite a first day of session interview from Senate President Mike Miller. After giving a lucid analysis of the sources of the Trump phenomenon and its danger, Miller aimed his fire closer to home:

He [Trump] is like one of our state officials. I’m not going to name his name. He’s a fraud. He was a moderate Democrat who is now transforming himself saying I’m a right-wing tea party conservative to get the vote. That’s nonsense. You’ve got to be true to yourself. He’s not true to himself as are other politicians that we know.

It’s an open secret that the state official who shall not be named is Comptroller Peter Franchot. Miller has been feuding publicly with the Comptroller, attacking him in a scathing public letter. Miller has been critical of Franchot for grandstanding and his now routine support of Gov. Hogan on the Board of Public Works.

Franchot’s evolution has been amazing. When he primaried sitting Comptroller William Donald Schaefer in 2006, he positioned himself as the progressive standard bearer. The Washington Post reported:

Franchot ran an aggressive campaign, trying to link both Schaefer and Owens to Ehrlich and claiming that he was “the only real Democrat in the race.”

So in essence, Miller’s argument is that Franchot has become exactly the portrait he drew of his opponent in 2006. Indeed, Franchot’s reply to Miller’s letter was highly complimentary of the Governor while critical of General Assembly Democrats.

Mike Miller is a centrist Democrat, so one can only imagine how liberals in the General Assembly view Franchot’s actions. I’d say Franchot is headed for uncharted waters except that, based on his own 2006 primary campaign, Franchot should know exactly where the course he is charting heads.

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Hogan’s First Session Endgame

Evaluating outcomes of legislative sessions, particularly when the Democrats control the General Assembly the Republicans the Governor’s Mansion, often devolves into rating winners and losers. Though there were the inevitable clashes on policy and rhetoric, it was also a productive session.

The sour note finish on the budget, however, was a perplexing surprise in light of the initial bipartisan budget compromise that saw strong support from both sides of the aisle. Bipartisan comity unraveled towards the end of the session.

Though Gov. Hogan’s staff had been highly involved in the budget negotiations that led to the brief budgetary Era of Good Feelings, he decided to insist on adding another $75 million to the pension fund after the compromise was reached.

The Governor’s  reinsertion of this demand after agreement had been reached will harm future negotiations with the legislature. It reduces legislative trust that he will adhere to deals and makes legislators wonder if he really prefers an argument to policy accomplishments.

The new attempt at negotiations after the pension demand reemerged also flopped. My colleague, Todd Eberly, largely blames the Democrats for not taking Hogan’s offer to partly reach their goals on education, health and COLAs for government employees in exchange of hewing to his demands on pensions.

While certainly a reasonable enough viewpoint, Hogan’s demands went well beyond pension funds to include passage of virtually all of his other bills. Negotiations in which the Governor expected the whole menu for only partial budgetary concessions were not likely to succeed.

There are further reasons for this failure. Gov. Hogan and his team did not lobby rank-and-file legislators nearly as aggressively as Gov. O’Malley during the legislative session. The lack of contact felt Jimmy Carter-like at times. His staffers need to work not just with legislative leaders but other legislators to advance their bills. President Miller and Speaker Busch are important but they are not the whole General Assembly.

The light lobbying touch may also be a symptom that Gov. Hogan believes that the General Assembly rolled over for Gov. O’Malley and so they should do the same for him. Except that many Democrats often fought with O’Malley and he had to fight very hard to get his priorities from gambling to same-sex marriage passed.

No doubt there is a learning curve for every new governor. While Gov. Hogan was the Appointments Secretary for Gov. Ehrlich, he has less experience in dealing with the General Assembly. His first session was hardly a failure. But whether his second session goes better will depend not just on Democrats but on him.

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Hogan Threatens Legislative Leaders

Gov. Larry Hogan tweeted this out yesterday via his campaign organization, Change Maryland:

HoganTweetThreat

This is one of those wonderful threats that is clearly meant one way–if you don’t bend, I’ll make electoral trouble for you at home–but Hogan’s press people will try to spin as we’re hoping that they’re listening to their constituents.

Somehow, I doubt they’re intimidated.

It’s also an argument that only goes so far. Democrats won so many seats in the General Assembly that Gov. Hogan cannot sustain a veto without Democratic support. Legislators have mandates too.

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Legislators Working to Make Metro Better

firemen in metroJust More Media Hysteria, So Chillax

Denial from Greater Greater Washington

Greater Greater Washington’s response to the series of problems with both the Metro and the DC streetcar was to blame “media hysteria” and remind us that transit is still safer than driving. So pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Better Response from the General Assembly

Fortunately, like the public they represent, legislators in the General Assembly think the continuing rot in Metro not only needs to be stopped but reversed. I don’t think this weekend’s repeated problems will persuade them otherwise.

Freshmen Del. Marc Korman (D-16) and Del. Erek Barron (D-24) have real interest in transit issues and have organized an informal Metro working group as part of an effort to figure out how to fix WMATA and exert more effective pressure to do so.

Special kudos to Del. Tawanna Gaines (D-22) who heads the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Transportation for supporting the effort. It’s terrific to see leaders like Del. Gaines working to support reform efforts.

The people involved realize that these are long-term problems with no quick fix. Hopefully, they can (1) improve oversight of Metro, (2) get Metro to address some specific problems, and (3) start to address some of the central questions around WMATA’s management and funding.

Fortunately, the interest in these questions extends even beyond the Metro area. Great to hear that Del. Brooke Lierman (D-46) and Del. Bob Flanagan (R-9B) joined many legislators from Montgomery and Prince George’s to attend the group meetings. Del. Flanagan was a former Secretary of Transportation in the Ehrlich administration.

While I look forward to seeing the group’s action plan as they learn more about WMATA, it is a good start that those involved know there are serious problems and want to figure out how to fix them in a more systematic, effective way.

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Changing the State Budget Process?

budgetbooks

Black is the New Orange: Hogan’s Budget is on the Right

Over at the Free Stater, Todd Eberly has a great post that unpacks exactly why governors of Maryland are considered the most powerful in the nation:

According to the constitution of Maryland, the Assembly cannot increase spending in the governor’s budget and it cannot move funds around in an effort to increase funding in one area by reducing it elsewhere. All the Assembly can really do is reduce the amount of spending proposed by the governor.  The Assembly can introduce legislation to provide funding for programs – but only if the legislation identifies a funding source (e.g. raising taxes). Certainly, members of the Assembly can work with Hogan and try to convince him to introduce a supplemental budget that provides more funding for programs they value, but failing that, Hogan’s budget will stand.

Senators Rich Madaleno, Guy Guzzone, and Roger Manno have introduced a constitutional amendment to give the General Assembly more power vis-a-vis the governor. As we approach the 100th anniversary of the amendment that established this system, it seems a good time revisit our choice.

 

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General Assembly Racial Breakdowns

Elected to Maryland General Assembly in 2014

2014GArace

I’m in the middle of gathering data for a study on the election of African-American and Latino legislators, so I thought I’d share the data for the new Maryland General Assembly.

The Current State of Play

Minorities compose a greater share in the House than the Senate. While whites form three-quarters of all senators, they comprise two-thirds of all delegates. All minority groups are better represented in the House than the Senate.

Excepting the election of its only Asian member, Sen. Susan Lee (D-16), minority groups experienced more notable gains in the House, which saw its Latino and Asian membership more than double from 2010. New Asian delegates include Jay Jalisi (D-10), Clarence Lam (D-12), David Moon (D-20), and Mark Chang (D-32). David Fraser-Hidalgo (D-15), Maricé Morales (D-19), and Will Campos (D-47B) are incoming Latino delegates.

Partisan Gaps

Every single Asian, Latino, and Black member of the General Assembly is a Democrat. Whites remain split between the two caucuses. Interestingly, a majority of white delegates now sit as Republicans (50-43). Together, Asian, Latino, and Black delegates now form a majority of the Democratic House Caucus (47-43).

In the Senate, however, White Democrats form two-thirds of the Democratic Caucus and heavily outnumber White Republicans by 22 to 14. The greater preponderance of white Democrats stems partly from the greater success of Democrats in the Senate–all marginal seats are white majority districts.

The glaring gaps in the racial composition of the two parties reflects a national trend. African Americans have voted overwhelmingly Democratic since 1964. President Obama has increased the share of both Latinos and Asian Americans who vote Democratic. While his 43% of the white vote in 2008 exceeds that won by Clinton, Gore, or Kerry from 1992-2004, Obama won 39% of the white vote in 2012.

Racial gaps in voting are actually more muted in Maryland than many other places (i.e. more whites vote Democratic). In many southern states, blacks form a clear majority of a much smaller Democratic Caucus. Congress has no white members from a single state in the Deep South.

Assessing Racial Proportionality

American Community Survey Population Estimates

MDRaceThe ratio of representation to population depends on how you measure both population and race. While districts are drawn based on total population, only adult citizens can vote. In addition to the total population, the above table shows the voting-age population (VAP) and citizen voting-age population (CVAP).

On the Census form, people can now check multiple racial boxes (e.g. both White and Asian) and Latino is a separate category. The table includes only non-Latino Asians, Blacks and Whites who checked just one box in the appropriate category.

Minors comprise a higher share of the Black and Latino population than the Asian and White population, so the share of Blacks and Latinos among the VAP is lower than among the total population. Due to lower citizenship rates among Asians and Latinos, both groups comprise lower shares of CVAP than the VAP.

The net impact is that White Marylanders form 3.4% more of the CVAP than the total population. Latino Marylanders are 8.5% of the total population but just 5.7% of CVAP. Similarly, Asian Marylanders are a lower share of CVAP than the total population. The net effect for African-American Marylanders is almost a wash with a net gain of 0.6% in CVAP over the total population.

Changes Required for Racial Proportionality

No matter how you slice it, however, the share of Whites is higher than their share of the population in both the House and the Senate. African Americans, the largest minority group in the State, would need to add four senators and six delegates to their ranks to pull even with their share of Maryland’s CVAP.

However, Asians would need just one more senator to achieve CVAP parity in both houses. Latinos require one more senator and three additional delegates to draw even with Latino CVAP–a share still two-thirds of the Latino share of the total population.

 

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