Balancing the budget with the pension system 

It was supposed to be a trade-off, a system of shared pain for shared gain. In order to ensure a solvent state pension system, employees would pay more and get less; the state of Maryland, in turn, would take the savings those changes generated and reinvest them in the plan at the rate of $300 million a year. Handshakes all around, and cue the parade. That was the deal approved by lawmakers in 2011, and the state was as good as its word — for one year. (Daily Record)

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Mark Newgent: O’Malley’s fiscal house of cards

Gov. Martin O'Malley released his fiscal year 2015 budget this week, and once again he made his long used but false claim that he has cut the state budget. Where are the cuts? Well that depends on your definition of the word "cut." A normal person would take the word cut to mean spending less money than the previous year. But this is Annapolis, where the definition of a "cut" is merely a reduction in spending growth. You see, the state's leaders believe they are entitled to spend as much as they want, and spending any less than that is a cut. (Balt. Sun)

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Martha Holleman: A local war on poverty

Last week, the nation marked the 50th Anniversary of Lyndon Johnson's announcement of a federal War on Poverty, igniting a national discussion about the war's legacy and what a renewed effort to address social inequality might look like. But what about us here in Baltimore? We aren't doing so well. According to the U.S. Census, 23.4 percent of all residents — almost one quarter of Baltimore's population — live below the federal poverty level. (Balt. Sun)

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Push for funding all schools

Carroll school officials should keep a close eye on a coalition of Maryland’s three largest counties as those jurisdictions lobby for more school funding, and ensure that any measures gaining approval in the state legislature don’t take funding from other districts that also need money. (Carr. Co. Times)

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Jan. 16 // A placeholder budget

Gov. Martin O'Malley's final budget proposal leaves the state on a sounder fiscal footing than when he took office seven years ago. Though he will not bequeath his successor anything close to the hefty fund balance his predecessor, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., left for him, he will also not saddle the next governor with anything like the projected billion-dollar annual budget shortfalls he faced. (Balt. Sun)

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Dan Rodricks: Some Marylanders deserve apology for insurance stress

At Tuesday's legislative hearing in Annapolis, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, point man on Obamacare in Maryland, refused to say he was sorry for the disastrous and embarrassing launch of the state's health insurance website. (Balt. Sun)

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The school board’s most difficult and important job

If we could wave a magic wand over Washington County and grant a wish that might cure the greatest number of its ills, it would be this: That by third grade, all children in Washington County would become able and eager readers. The outcomes at this point are no more debatable than the sun rising in the East — kids who learn to read proficiently at an early age get ahead; those who don’t do not. (Herald-Mail)

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Laura Howell: Minimum wage debate ignores crucial group

The current debate on the minimum wage rightfully focuses on the plight of low-income Marylanders. Hard-working citizens deserve a wage that allows them to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. However, there is a related issue that has gotten little attention in all of the discussion, and that is the fragile and underfunded system of services for Marylanders with developmental disabilities and the backbone of those services — the direct support staff who provide them. (Balt. Sun)

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