2017 Mid-Session Update
Dear Friends, 
     As dictated by our State Constitution, the Maryland General Assembly meets for ninety days from January-April. We are at the halfway point for the 2017 Session and as always, the pace is hectic. Much of the preparation and in-depth meeting work takes place throughout the year, but a balanced budget must be presented to the General Assembly,  passed and returned to the Governor and all legislative changes must take place during these ninety days.
     Much of my time this session has been taken up with budget briefings to the Appropriations Committee. Below is a short overview of the Maryland Budget process with a focus on the Administration's proposed expenditures on elementary and secondary public education.
     I sit on the Health and Human Resources Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee and therefore, I remain very focused on Maryland's efforts to try to prepare for whatever federal changes in our health insurance policies may be passed by Congress and what the effects will be on our state. Below are some statistics on how this expansion has benefited Maryland.
     Also below are the links to the bills which I have introduced this session.   My individual legislative focus remains on impaired driving issues; protection of our most needy families, children and juveniles, with a particular focus to keep juveniles out of the justice system and on the correct path to adult independence; I have several bills aimed at specific properties within Bowie, specifically improvements to the Bowie racetrack and addressing the development of 154 acres of the Jesuit property around Sacred Heart Parish along Rt. 450; among others. 
     It remains my honor to represent you. Please feel free to call my office at 301-858-3101 or email me at Geraldine.Valentino@house.state.md.us if you have thoughts to share about this session or any further questions.  

Geraldine Valentino-Smith
Delegate, Maryland House of Delegates, District 23A
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MD Budget Governor's FY 201
Overall FY18 Operating Budget
The Governor introduced his proposed budget to House and Senate on January 18th as HB150/SB170. The FY 18 budget is approximately $42.27 billion, a 4% increase over last year's budget. This budget bill contains the Governor's proposed allocation for each agency and salary details. According to the Maryland Constitution, the Governor must submit a balanced budget to the legislature. However, proposed revenue increases or reductions that are not currently collected by the state or allowed by law may be used to balance the budget.
Therefore, the administration has also submitted a complimentary bill known as the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act (BRFA), which contains proposed changes in formulas or mandated spending that will balance the budget. This year's BRFA (HB0152) originates in the house.
Another key fact to be considered, though, is that the Maryland General Assembly cannot add to the budget and may not move money from one program to another, but instead may only reduce or eliminate spending in the budget bill. However, we may use the BRFA to restrict or "fence off" certain funding for particular purposes.
The Appropriations Committee in the House and the Budget and Taxation Committee in the Senate each conduct hearings, deliberate the Budget Bill, and make recommendations to the larger body of each chamber, where, just like any other bill, it is debated. Again, under Maryland Law the budget must be passed by both houses by April 4th. Once passed, the Governor may not veto the budget, regardless of the amendments made to it during its time in the House and Senate.

Elementary and Secondary Public Education-FY18
The expected budget for elementary and secondary education for the upcoming year is $7.95 billion, a 2% increase over last year's budget.  Under current law, Prince George's County is scheduled to receive a $20.1 million increase in direct State education aid in fiscal 2018. This represents a 1.8% increase from the prior fiscal year, and on a per pupil basis, the $27 increase represents a 0.3% increase from the prior year.  This slow growth does not keep up with needs of our most challenged students. You can view the State Department of Education's budget breakdown here Several factors, including student enrollment growth and local wealth, help to explain the modest increase in State education aid for Prince George's County in fiscal 2018.  You can view the details of the State Aid to Prince George's County here

Maryland and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) 
Maryland expansion of Medicaid and implementation of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange(MBHE) have reduced the percentage of uninsured Marylanders from 11.3% in 2010 to 6.6% in 2015.  291,000 more Marylanders now have access to health care and more than 150,000 have coverage through the MHBE.
In three years, we have saved $311 million dollars in uncompensated care costs at hospitals due to the decrease in the uninsured. From 2013 to 2105, thanks to the expansion of Medicaid the number of those in opioid treatment programs more than doubled from 10,365 to 20,815 participants.
Maryland has gained both jobs and taxes through implementation of the ACA. Repeal could result in a loss of 52,000 jobs in Maryland in 2019 and a loss of $982 million in state and local taxes for the period 2019 to 2023. 

Links to my legislation:  To read more about each bill you can click on that bill number. The bill summary and Fiscal Note (a good explanation of current law and what the bill changes) will appear . The Fiscal Note is often not available until shortly before the scheduled hearing. It is written and prepared by non-partisan legislative staff at the Department of Legislative Services.

By Authority of Friends For Geraldine Valentino-Smith, Elizabeth Ryan, Treasurer