Legislators, Educators Launch Fix the Fund Campaign

And other legislative updates in MSEA’s Up the Street

Montgomery County special educator Carissa Barnes flanked by President Weller and legislators at the Fix the Fund press conference on January 30.


Legislators, Educators Launch Fix the Fund Campaign

With the state facing a $2.9 billion funding shortage, MSEA teamed up with state legislators to announce the first step in a year-long plan to adequately fund Maryland public schools — a plan we are calling The Maryland Promise. That starts with passing the Fix the Fund Act, a constitutional amendment to ensure casino gaming money goes to increasing education funding rather than being diverted elsewhere in the budget. This would increase the overall state aid for education by $500 million — beyond that of increases through enrollment and inflation changes — in the next few years. The legislation needs to be approved by 29 senators, 85 delegates, and then a majority of voters on the 2018 general election ballot because it is a constitutional amendment.

The Tuesday press conference featured the top leadership of the General Assembly: Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. (D-Calvert, Charles, and Prince George’s-District 27), House Speaker Michael Busch (D-Annapolis-District 30A), Senate Education, Health, and Environment Committee Chair Joan Carter Conway (D-Baltimore City-District 43), House Appropriations Chair Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore City-District 43), and House Ways and Means Chair Anne Kaiser (D-Montgomery-District 14). They were joined by MSEA President Betty Weller and Carissa Barnes, a special educator from Montgomery County.

For years, the Education Trust Fund has been effectively diverted away from public schools. In Gov. Hogan’s three budgets, as well as his most recent budget proposal, $1.4 billion in general funds that should have gone to education have been moved elsewhere in the budget. To find out more about how we’re working to end this budget gimmick, read our MSEA Newsfeed story.

Pro-Workers’ Rights Bills Introduced

As part of our fight for good education policy and funding, MSEA supports efforts to strengthen collective bargaining and workers’ rights. There are three key pieces of legislation with this focus that we will be supporting this legislative session:

1. Representative Access to New Educators (HB811): Sponsored by House Education Subcommittee Chair Eric Luedtke (D-Montgomery-District 14), this legislation would require school districts to give exclusive bargaining units access to all new educators within 30 days — or the first pay period — of the date of hire. Educator associations are legally required to provide representation and bargain on behalf of all employees, not just members, and therefore should have the ability to communicate with all new educators. This will allow all educators to have a fair shot at being represented. Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery-District 18) will be the Senate sponsor.

2. Teacher Arbitration Rights (SB639): Sponsored by Sen. Guy Guzzone (D-Howard-District 13), this bill would provide fairness to the process for suspending or dismissing a certificated school employee. This bill accomplishes that fairness by allowing an employee to request a hearing before an arbitrator instead of a hearing officer selected and paid by the local board of education. The bill also provides equity because the ability to select an arbitrator brings the process in line with non- certificated employees, most of whom have that right by virtue of their collective bargaining agreements. Del. Eric Ebersole (D-Howard/Baltimore-District 12) will be the House sponsor.

3. Community College Collective Bargaining (HB667/SB408): Sponsored by Del. Keith Haynes (D-Baltimore City-District 44A) and Sen. Guzzone, this bill would establish collective bargaining rights for Maryland’s community college employees. Our community college educators should have a voice in how their schools work to improve not just working conditions for employees, but learning conditions for students.

Educators, Parents Push for Representation on State School Board

On Thursday, MSEA President Betty Weller joined TCEA President Andy Burke and PGCEA’s Rowena Shurn — as well as the Maryland PTA and lead sponsor Del. Eric Ebersole — to testify in favor of legislation (HB154) to put two current teachers and one parent of a current public school student on the State Board of Education. The two teachers would be chosen through a state-run election of all Maryland certified teachers. Currently, the State Board has no members who have taught in Maryland public schools.


State of the State

Just one day after President Donald Trump presented his State of the Union address, it was Gov. Larry Hogan’s turn. To mixed reviews in his final State of the State address, Hogan outlined his legislative priorities and kicked off his re-election campaign at the same time, focusing on a line he repeated at least six times, that Maryland “cannot afford to turn back now.” His status-quo message and underwhelming administrative proposals will be put to the test as legislators and voters wrestle with how best to protect Maryland from the dangerous policies of the Trump Administration.

School Construction Projects Approved

Last week, the Board of Public Works approved this year’s Capital Improvement Program, including school construction projects prioritized by local governments. The Public School Construction website lists projects by county and provides a summary document of all requests, including the approved projects so far for fiscal year 2019. Click here to get all of the details of the public school construction program and approved projects.

Tracking the Legislative Session

So much for a quiet “election year” General Assembly session. Delegates and senators have already introduced more than 1,500 pieces of legislation. And the bill introduction deadlines don’t hit until next week. To be guaranteed a bill hearing, Senate bills must be introduced by Monday, February 5 and House bills must be introduced by Friday, February 9. Find and read bills, watch committee hearings, and follow floor debates through the General Assembly’s homepage.


Casa in Action Endorses Ben Jealous

CASA in Action, one of the region’s most prominent immigrant advocacy groups, endorsed former NAACP President Ben Jealous for governor last week. This is the latest progressive group to support Jealous, following earlier endorsements from SEIU, CWA, Maryland Postal Workers Union, Maryland Working Families, and Our Revolution.

Latest Reports from the 6th Congressional District

With Rep. John Delaney (D-CD 6) announcing plans to step down from the House of Representatives and pursue a campaign for president of the United States, there are heated primaries in both parties to replace him. Among the Democrats, Del. Aruna Miller (D-Montgomery-District 15) narrowly trails self-funder David Trone (owner of Total Wine and More) in their cash on hand reports. Del. Miller reported raising the most donors during the final quarter of 2017, bringing in $300,000 and ending the year with $752,000 in the bank. Sen. Roger Manno (D-Montgomery-District 19) is also running for the seat, and reported having $285,000 on hand.