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Morning Read: Maryland Property Tax Rate To Remain The Same

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AM Read: Md. Property Tax Rate To Remain Same

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The Maryland Board of Public Works voted Wednesday to keep the state property tax rate at its current level.

But, The Washington Times reports, one of the three members of the board warned that increases could come soon if the state doesn’t tighten its belt.

The current tax rate is -- and will remain -- 11.2 cents a year per $100 of a property’s assessed value.

Gov. Martin O’Malley, Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot and Treasurer Nancy Kopp sit on the panel and voted unanimously for the millage rate.

According to the Times, Franchot cited a report and said the state will take on an additional $1.4 billion in bond debt over the next five years and that state officials have overspent on capital projects, which would ultimately force taxpayers to cover the costs.

Maryland has not increased its property tax since 2003.

* It looks like the fourth time is the charm in Virginia. After voting against the budget three times in the past two months, the Virginia Senate passed the two-year, $85 billion spending plan Wednesday.

One Democrat, Sen. Charles Colgan, voted with Republicans, giving the budget the 21 votes it needed to pass. The final vote in the evenly split Senate was 21-19.

Virginia Democrats had refused to vote for the budget because it did not include $300 million to help fund the expansion of the Metro to Dulles International Airport.

Gov. McDonnell and the GOP refused to include it, but the budget passed anyway with Colgan’s vote.

* Students and officials at the University of Maryland will be protesting the state’s unfinished ”Doomsday Budget,” hoping to put pressure on the governor to call a special session and fix the spending plan.

The rally -- called Rally on the Mall-Prevent 10% Tuition Increases! -- will be at 3 p.m. Thursday at McKeldin Library at the University of Maryland.

“As you may have heard by now, the Maryland General Assembly failed to fully fund the operating budget, which means as of now the so called “Doomsday Budget” goes into effect. The “Doomsday Budget” will have devastating affects on our university, as the University System of Maryland could face cuts up to $50 million.”

“Balancing the budget on the backs of students is not acceptable. We need to have a special session, so that students that are struggling to get by will not be unduly burdened by petty politics.”

Prince George County Public Schools Superintendent William Hite issued a statement to community stakeholders about the budget’s cuts to education in general.

Via The Real Prince Georges

Because the General Assembly session ended without the approval of the Fiscal Year 2013 budget submitted by Governor Martin O’Malley, our school system is now faced with an additional $51 million in cuts. Needless to say, this would have a substantial impact on our students, teachers, staff and schools.

* D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and public school Chancellor Kaya Henderson announced a five-year improvement plan that would improve students' performance, increase graduation rates and fund pilot programs that could lengthen the school day or academic year at some schools in the District.

VIA The Washington Times

"Mr. Gray said the strategic plan, titled “A Capital Commitment,” is designed to meet key goals as education continues to be a leading topic of discussion among constituents and is part of his “One City” agenda. The initiative is being launched while investigators continue to look into allegations of cheating on standardized tests in years past at certain schools and as talk of school closures begins to accelerate. It also arrives at the tail-end of the five-year plan started under former Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee comes to a close."

Read more here.

* The Maryland National Guard will be sending two crews in June to help monitor the U.S.-Mexican border for illegal immigrants and drug smugglers.

During the six-month deployment, the crews, according to The Baltimore Sun, will take high-tech helicopters to the southern tip of Texas to provide aerial surveillance for U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents on the ground.

The Maryland Guard deployed troops to staff observation posts along the border in 2006, but this is the first mission providing aerial surveillance.

* The Virgin Islands’ delegate to Congress has ties to money linked to Jeffrey Thompson -- the big D.C. political donor who is part of a federal investigation looking into campaign finance irregularities in D.C.

According to the AP, Democrat Delegate Donna Christensen received at least $37,000 from Thompson and his associates in the second quarter of 2011. More than half the money her campaign received can be linked to Thompson.

Statement from Christensen campaign via The AP:

“We continue to follow the circumstances involving Mr. Thompson in the media and will take any such action with respect to his contributions as may later prove appropriate,” the statement said. Christensen and campaign officials did not respond to requests for further comment.

* Even if many of D.C.’s nighttime establishments want to stay open later, they won’t be able to.

Mayor Vincent Gray proposed to extend bar hours by one hour, but the extension wouldn’t apply to 267 bars, nightclubs and restaurants, according to The Post.

During a hearing Tuesday night, the head of the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration said the proposal would not apply to the roughly 20 percent of liquor license holders in the District that have existing voluntary agreements with their neighbors dictating when they must close.

The Post reports that this decision could slow community opposition to Gray’s proposal, but makes it unclear how much money the city would raise from the extra hour of alcohol sales.

* D.C. Council member Jack Evans, who chairs the Finance and Revenue Committee, said Mayor Vincent Gray’s proposal to keep D.C.-based LivingSocial in the city is a “good start,” according to DCist.

Gray's proposal would lower the online company’s taxes by up to $32.5 million over a five-year period beginning in 2015. In exchange, the company would promise that at least 50 percent of its new hires would be District residents and it would participate in the Summer Youth Employment Program.

Evans, according to DCist, said LivingSocial is “exactly the type of startup business we want to keep here and the type we generally lose if we do nothing.”

Read more here.

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