MCEA Legislative Update

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MCEA LEGISLATIVE REPORT

WEEK OF JANUARY 9, 2015

The 2015 Session of the Maryland General Assembly begins on January 14, 2015 at 12 noon.  As part of the service MCEA provides to members, we will provide a weekly activity report.

PENDING LEGISLATION:  There are no pre-filed bills relating to state or university employees at this time.

BUDGET ISSUES:   According to the December 17, 2014 revenue estimates, the state faces a $760 million shortfall for Fiscal Year 2016.  This estimated shortfall is based on certain assumptions with regard to employee salaries and benefits.  A 2% cost of living increase effective July 1, 2015 would cost $75.4 million.  Funding step increments on time would cost $77.3 million.  Returning to the regular funding for health insurance benefits would cost $103 million.  Funding for health insurance benefits was reduced last year as a result of two open enrollments and rate increases to employees in calendar year 2013. 

The Department of Human Resources will add 45 new positions to provide services related to the Health Benefit Exchange.  The Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services will add 210 new positions,  100 of which will staff the new Dorsey Run Road Facility.  The Cheltenham Youth Facility will add 28 new positions.  In addition, the projections include funding for 45 contractual positions to be converted to permanent positions.

The state's contribution to the pension plan has increased from $1 billion in FY 2009 to the current projection of $1.6 billion in FY 2016.  The funding for FY 2016 is based on legislation passed last year, which reduced the supplemental contribution by $200 million and the legislation passed in 2014, which changed the way the state calculates their required contribution.  This $1.6 billion represents 9.8% of the General Fund. 

There are several projects in the Capital Budget of note for MCEA members working in higher education.  The December budget estimates include:  $48.2 million for a new Natural Science Center at Bowie State University, $47.55 million for a new Academic Commons at Salisbury University, $758,000 for a new Environmental Sustainability Research Laboratory at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, and $5 million for a higher education facility in southern Maryland.