As a wife, mother, grandmother, former educator, and small business owner, Kathy Szeliga understands the challenges facing citizens in Maryland. Married to Mark for more than 42 years, they have 2 married sons and two granddaughters who live in the Baltimore area.
From Kathy’s Desk
I’m happy to report that I introduced my first bill of the session in front of the Ways and Means Committee this week. A young lady named Liliana Norkaitis who interned for me in the past, shared that when she purchased her cello last year she had to pay over $100 in taxes. She had formerly been renting the cello from the public school system during her music education career in Maryland.
HB24 would make the rental and purchase of musical instruments tax free for students.
This is only the beginning of the legislative session and I have many more issues to come. Keep an eye on my legislation page found here. I’ll be asking for your support in upcoming legislation for testimonies – most importantly the Save Women’s Sports Act that failed to pass last year when I first introduced the bill.
Make sure you’re following me on social media to stay up-to-date throughout the week on what’s happening in Annapolis!
Issues at hand
Gov. Moore’s budget does not include any new taxes this year. For that, we are grateful. We are, however, concerned about future years as the expansive and expensive Blueprint for Maryland’s Future education budget is facing a $1.2 billion deficit by fiscal year 2028. Additionally, Moore’s priority policy to create a program for high school graduates to spend a year in service.
Gov. Moore’s budget includes a $2 million cut to Maryland’s only school choice program, Broadening Options & Opportunities for Students Today (BOOST), and contains language that would phase out the program. This scholarship program for children from low-income families to attend nonpublic schools is being cut from $10 MILLION to $8 MILLION thereby reducing Maryland’s families’ educational opportunities outside the public school system.
The BOOST program was created to allow kids in failing schools the opportunity to attend non-public schools—more than 3,200 Maryland students took advantage of this program in the 2021-2022 school year. Parents are looking for a quality education for their kids trapped in failing schools. School choice through the BOOST program works and there are kids on a waiting list.
Gov. Moore credits his non-public school education in private and boarding schools for his success so we were surprised when he made cuts to this program. And Gov. Moore’s plan to phase this program out will eliminate opportunities for kids in dangerous neighborhoods with failing schools to rise out of poverty. Our neighbors in DC have access to the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program which is America’s only non-public school choice program created by Congress. With $20 million available in DC (and increases annually with the Consumer Price Index), why are Maryland families not afforded the same opportunities?
In line with Governor Moore’s theme of “service will save the state”, we ask him to also serve the low-income families who are seeking a better education for their children in non-public schools. The Governor quoted F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous line saying, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” He used this quote when pointing out the rise in crime across the state while at the same time lamenting the rise in incarceration of young black boys.
However, Governor Moore failed to finish the quote wherein F. Scott Fitzgerald goes on to say, “One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.” We hear the hopeless cries of parents who want a better education for their children, but simply cannot afford a non-public school. We are determined to serve them and make their dreams a reality.
Save the Date
Maryland State Scholarships
The scholarship application will be open from January 30 – April 24, 2023;
- To be eligible for this scholarship, you must 1) Reside in Maryland Legislative District 7A or 7B; 2) Complete the FAFSA by March 1; 3) Attend a college, university, or private career school in Maryland (or apply for a Unique Major Status for an out-of-state institution)
- If you received a scholarship before, you must reapply to be eligible for another scholarship
- Further information about the Delegate Scholarship Program can be found here
- Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about the process
I-95 Extension and I-695 Tolls
Members of the public may submit comments for the official record of the proposed I-95 Northbound Extension and I-695 ramps tolling plan through April 13, 2023. All comments received during the toll rate range setting process are given equal consideration.
Comments may be submitted by visiting here.BCPS Stakeholder Survey
The brief online survey will be available on the BCPS home page from January 30 through Friday, March 3, 2023. The survey is again available in multiple languages for students, parents, and community members.