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Maryland Legislators Pass $47.9 Billion State Budget

 

Maryland senators voted unanimously to approve a $47.9 billion state budget that includes $10 million to fight the spread of coronavirus and restores funding to health, education and cultural programs. The Senate voted 47-0 to approve the budget with bipartisan support. The budget contains $10 million proposed by Hogan to help with the state’s response to the spread of coronavirus in Maryland, where 12 cases have been confirmed. That’s money on top of the up to $50 million the legislature already authorized the governor to draw from the so-called rainy-day fund. 

The Senate made several changes to the Governor’s budget, including restoring some spending reductions proposed by the governor. Senators restored $39.5 million for developmental disabilities, behavioral health and Medicaid providers; $18.2 million for community colleges; $11.1 million for independent colleges; $1.6 million for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; and $200,000 for Maryland Public Television.
 

The Senate’s spending plan is slightly smaller than the one proposed by Hogan. Senators freed up money by making dozens of small cuts through the budget, including a $7.1 million reduction to business tax credits and eliminating long-vacant positions throughout state government, such as a $10.5 million cut in the transportation department and a $2.5 million cut in the prison system.

The Governor proposed a budget in January that included $355 million to pay for additional public-school programs that have been recommended by the state’s Kirwan Commission an amount increased to $362 million under the Senate spending plan. Lawmakers in the House of Delegates have already passed the Kirwan Commission’s legislation to overhaul the state’s public schools at an eventual cost of $3.8 billion. The bill now awaits approval in the state Senate. Both chambers are now considering different versions of tax packages that could raise about $700 million annually to help pay for the education overhaul. That’s not enough to fully fund all 10 years of the commission’s plans but would pay for more than half.Top of Form

 

Source: Baltimore Sun

 

 

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Update

 

Maryland Works is closely monitoring ongoing updates about COVID-19 throughout the State. We recommend viewing the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) for updated information on COVID-19. We will continue to check the MDH and CDC websites daily for updates and listen for new information from local news and public healthcare providers.

The symptoms of the COVID-19 are:

  • Mild to severe respiratory illness
  • fever
  • cough,
  • shortness of breath

Steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 if you are sick:

  • Stay home: People who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to isolate at home during their illness. You should restrict activities outside your home, except for getting medical care.
  • Avoid public areas: Do not go to work, school, or public areas.
  • Avoid public transportation: Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
  • Stay away from others: As much as possible, you should stay in a specific room and away from other people in your home. Also, you should use a separate bathroom, if available.
  • Limit contact with pets & animals: You should restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick with COVID-19, just like you would around other people. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus.
  • When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. If you are sick with COVID-19, avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets and wear a facemask. See COVID-19 and Animals for more information.

How You can Protect Yourself and other from the spread of CoVID-19 or any other raspatory disease.

  • If you are sick: You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) or pets and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office.
  • If you are caring for others: If the person who is sick is not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then people who live with the person who is sick should not stay in the same room with them, or they should wear a facemask if they enter a room with the person who is sick.
  • Cover: Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Dispose: Throw used tissues in a lined trash can.
  • Wash hands: Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or, if soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer

 

Maryland Minimum Wage Increase Began January 1, 2020


The minimum wage in Maryland increased Wednesday, January 1st, one of several state laws that took effect with the start of the new year. Other changes impact everything from car rentals to beer franchisers to organ donors. The minimum wage increased and is now $11. Before Wednesday, the minimum wage had been $10.10 in Maryland since 2018. Montgomery and Prince George's counties, however, have their own higher minimum-wage standards.


During the 2019 Maryland General Assembly, state lawmakers voted to pass the bill supporting the increase, then had to override a veto from Gov. Larry Hogan to push it through into law.  Over the next five years, minimum wage in Maryland will increase until it reaches $15 in 2025.

For employers with at least 15 employees, this is the increase schedule:

  • Jan. 1, 2020 — $11
  • Jan. 1, 2021 — $11.75
  • Jan. 1, 2022 — $12.50
  • Jan. 1, 2023 — $13.25
  • Jan. 1, 2024 — $14
  • Jan. 1, 2025 — $15

For employers with 14 or fewer employees, this is the schedule:

  • Jan. 1, 2020 — $11
  • Jan. 1, 2021 — $11.60
  • Jan. 1, 2022 — $12.20
  • Jan. 1, 2023 — $12.80
  • Jan. 1, 2024 — $13.40
  • Jan. 1, 2025 — $14
  • Jan. 1, 2026 — $14.60
  • July 1, 2026 — $15

Maryland is one of six states that passed laws to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour over time: California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York are the others, according to the Economic Policy Institute. The D.C. minimum wage will rise to $15 this July.

 

New Deputy Secretary of the Behavorial Health Administration (BHA)

The Maryland Department of Health announced on Monday, December 30, 2019 that Dr. Alyia Jones will become Deputy Secretary and head of the state’s Behavioral Health Administration (BHA), which oversees state mental health hospitals and community programs for substance use, among other services. Dr. Jones is a psychiatrist and previously worked at Bon Secours Hospital in Baltimore, where she served for seven years as chief of psychiatry and chair of behavioral health.
Source: Baltimore Sun