Are you or one of your children expecting to attend a Maryland college or university next year? Are you interested in financial assistance to help with tuition?
If you live in the 22nd district -- the communities of Berwyn Heights, Edmonton, Greenbelt, Hyattsville, Lanham, Lewisdale, New Carrollton, Riverdale, Riverdale Park, or University Park -- you can apply to my scholarship committee for a state Senatorial Scholarship.
These scholarships usually range from $500 to 2,000 for each of four years. If you'd like an application, please either call my Annapolis office at 301-858-3155 or visit my website at www.senatorpinsky.org and download instructions and an application or check with your school's guidance office. Applications are be due by April 5, 2012.
My scholarship committee, made up entirely of citizen volunteers from the 22nd legislative district, will be selecting the scholarship winners.
On March 1st, 2012, Governor O'Malley signed the Marriage Equality bill and Maryland became the 8th state to legalize gay marriage. I was proud to be a co-sponsor of the bill and cast my vote in support of it. I thought of the late Senator Gwen Britt, who was a Freedom Rider and initially introduced gay marriage legislation in the Senate. I strongly believe, as Sen. Britt did, this is a civil rights issue -- now gays and lesbians have the same rights accorded to heterosexuals. While some may disagree with this law, I believe that history will view this as a 21st century civil rights triumph.
Last week the state Senate passed the $15 billion state operating budget. Because the state constitution requires a balanced budget, some difficult choices have been made. I have fought to ensure that the budget is not balanced on the backs of working people, teachers and other public employees, and our most vulnerable citizens. The details below are still subject to change in the House of Delegates.
This budget gradually shifts the costs of teacher pensions from the state to counties over a four year period. I have consistently opposed this shift because I believed that it would leads to cuts in education. I have worked to limit the impact the shift will have on Prince George's County and to protect education funding. This proposal is less damaging to our county than the original proposal. A separate provision known as 'Maintenance of Effort' ensures that the county continues to make school funding a priority and prohibits a reduction in per pupil spending.
The budget also raises revenue through modest income tax increases. Most income tax brackets would increase by between .15 and .25%. For example a married couple with two children that makes $50,000/year would pay about $44 more each year. I worked with other progressive senators to ensure that individuals with the highest incomes will pay a higher rate, since they have greater disposable income. This provision also directs much needed additional funding for Prince George's County and municipalities. The budget softens the impact for low income earners by increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit. Taxes are also increased for internet purchases (which have been untaxed) and cigars. In the senate version, along with colleagues, I was able to direct funding to local jurisdictions. If retained by a conference committee, Prince George's will receive close to $6 million and county municipalities will receive approximately $750,000 in additional revenue.
Competing House and Senate versions of the budget and tax proposals will now go to a conference committee.
Pursuing Progressive Taxation: Here are my Remarks
My remarks on the Senate floor in support of these tax changes are available here.
Below is an update on legislation that has made progress this session. For a list of all my legislation, click here.
Protecting Students who Take College Classes Online
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program will prepare tax returns for free for individuals who make under $57,000. Volunteers are available at the New Carrollton Municipal Center Mondays through April 9 from 6-8:30 PM and at Prince George's Community College by appointment. Click here for more information on the PGCC location.
Through IRS Free File, all taxpayers who made $57,000 or less in 2011 are eligible to visit www.irs.gov to prepare and e-file their federal tax returns. The program provides free access to brand-name tax preparation software--offering taxpayers step-by-step help to prepare and e-file their federal taxes online. This service is also available in Spanish.
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Authorized by Citizens for Pinsky, Anna Frankle Treas.