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What's Up Magazine

Sine Die 2012

Apr 10, 2012 03:03PM ● By Anonymous

Looking back, there are so many “what ifs” for this session. It appeared that there was agreement that the budget would be balanced but “how” to balance it never took form. While a budget may have “passed” in the final hours, without the existence of a revenue (or tax) plan to balance the state’s $36 billion budget, over $500 million in cuts to education, public safety and numerous other programs are now in effect. The issue of gambling remains at play – which was apparent yesterday during the debate on the budget. I also hoped – and thought – something would be passed to support transportation (we all know and understand why the proposed gas tax went nowhere this year) but the General Assembly leaves without any money being infused into our vital transportation system. The congressional redistricting which occurred last year has also already started to see an impact with who came out on top in the primaries - and I am sure we will see more of its impact into next year.

The end of the session also has left much more uncertainty surrounding health care issues than I ever would have imagined – and you know from my previous writings how important a subject this is to me. Yes there was some movement (how to implement the State Health Insurance Benefit Exchange, efforts to eliminate health disparities within medically underserved areas, discussions to create pilot programs to reshape the way in which health care services are delivered and paid for.) but many more questions linger. What will happen with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the federal health care law? Will Maryland adopt its own rules requiring residents to get insured if the Court rules against that single issue and premium rise dramatically with the rest of the law remaining? How will Medicaid be impacted within our current budget? Maryland would get federal money covering 100% of Medicaid recipients on January 1, 2014. What happens now if that federal money doesn’t come through? Maryland has always been out front when it came to health care issues but part of me is asking, what road has Maryland taken now?

Will the General Assembly be called back into a special session to resolve this budget crisis? Maybe, but there are no guarantees in what the Governor decides to do. A special session would also provide more floor time for other issues that were never resolved this year. Where we go from here is very uncertain, but just as things “ended” last year, I am asking that you stay with me – and our legislators – as we journey forward.