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“For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”
— Ted Kennedy at the Democratic Convention in 1980

You are essential! Thanks to you, the Montgomery County Progressive Alliance is making progress in Montgomery County and Maryland. As we move into 2011, the work goes on. With your help, the dream shall never die. But we need you to keep MCPA going and growing. MCPCA is a non-profit, all-volunteer organization. We can only keep working with generous member donations. We will not be able to pay for social networking tools such as Meetup.com, rent venues for special events, print flyers and other materials, and keep organizing for progress without your support.

We’ve been organizing events, supporting candidates, and informing you about progressive efforts in our area since 2003. We have big plans to work with our friends and allies in the county and state on healthcare, the environment, equality, and more! MCPA is playing a role organizing, supporting, and/or promoting ALL of the events below. NO OTHER ORGANIZATION is involved and promoting progress on such a wide range of issues and efforts!

Help keep us working for you! Please support the MCPA with a generous donation now. We hope you will give $25 or more, but we appreciate any help you afford in these tough economic times. You can donate safely and easily online here https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=UW2R635KZPP9L or bring your donation to our meetings and events. Note: donations to MCPA are not tax deductible.

Join us at our next meeting: 7-9 PM Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Combined MeetUp/Meeting for MCPA, DFMC, PDA, and more. Progressive Coalition Meeting to plan future events and actions.

Saigonese Restaurant
11232 Grandview Ave
Wheaton, MD 20902

Public Transportation: Short walk from Wheaton Metro (red line)
Google Map: http://maps.google.com/maps?q=11232+Grandview+Ave+Silver+Spring+MD+20902

Report on progress in our county and state on Healthcare, the Environment, Education, Labor, Transportation, Energy and other issues. We’re building up our coalition and lobby efforts on the state and national level, planning special events, forming a steering committee, and working on meetings with legislators, and other organizations.

Please join the Montgomery County Progressive Alliance Google Group: http://groups.google.com/group/mcprogressivealliance

If you’re on Facebook, please join the MCPA group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=3401340272&ref=ts

Four Meetup groups–Progressive Victory, Democratic Party / MCPA, Montgomery County Progressive Alliance and this one–get together with like-minded activists working for Progressive Victories in 2010 and beyond. We meet at least once each month to discuss and plan events and actions.

1. MCPA: The Montgomery County Progressive Alliance is a result-oriented coalition working on local, state, national and international issues. MCPA includes more than 1,000 local activists, mainly in and around Montgomery County Maryland. The organization began in 2003 when Democracy for America Meetup members reached out to other Meetup groups and other groups. In 2004, 100s of Montgomery County for Kerry members and local Progressive Democrats of America members joined the MCPA. MCPA adopted a mission statement, organized special events, and has held meetings nearly each month since 2003.

2. DFA/DFMC: Democracy for America emerged from Gov. Howard Dean’s presidential campaign in 2004, and has organized grass-roots activists to support socially progressive, fiscally responsible candidates. DFMC is Democracy for Montgomery County, a local DFA-inspired organization which is not directly or legally affiliated with DFA. DFMC has organized events and meetings; and endorsed and organized volunteers for several candidates. DFMC is currently seeking additional steering committee members. Please contact me, mikehersh@mikehersh.com if you’re interested. You can sign up for DFA here: http://democracyforamerica.com/session/new

3. PDA: Progressive Democrats of America began just after the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. Bringing together people from the 2004 Kucinich and Dean Campaigns with other progressives, PDA adopted an “inside/outside strategy” uniting activists working inside the Democratic Party with those working in peace and justice movements. PDA’s core issues include clean, accurate and transparent elections; environmental protection; single-payer healthcare; economic and social justice; and peace. See: http://www.PDAmerica.org/ You can sign up for PDA there.

Help keep us working for you! Please support the MCPA with a generous donation now. We hope you will give $25, but we appreciate any help you afford in these tough economic times. You can donate safely and easily online here https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=UW2R635KZPP9L or bring your donation to our meetings and events. Note: donations to MCPA are not tax deductible.

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Please contribute now to help STOP TRANSFER OF PENSIONS

 

“There’s going to be an attempt to shift the costs of teachers’ pensions onto the counties, again, a cost that our own county cannot bear. We have to protect against that.” — Delegate Brian Feldman, on Comcast Newsmakers

Help us plan public events and organize support for sensible policies.

Transferring pension obligations to the counties and cities would devastate local economies, hurt public schools, prevent needed maintenance, and delay or deny new projects by overburdening our local governments. We have better choices–untapped potential revenues. On “Comcast Newsmakers,” Delegate Brian Feldman (D-15, Montgomery County Delegation Chair) warned, “There’s going to be an attempt to shift the costs of teachers’ pensions onto the counties, again, a cost that our own county cannot bear. We have to protect against that.” He’s 100% correct, but that’s easier said than done. Please support our efforts to protect public schools and public services in Maryland! Contribute to STOP and contact us to get involved. (PayPal is a safe, easy way to pay online without revealing your credit card number. Contributions to STOP are not tax deductible.)

Some background: During the Glendenning years, Maryland adopted the “corridor” formula which was not actuarially sound and therefore underfunded the pension systems. The recession–with the stock market and real estate shocks–depleted the value of assets in the pension trust funds. Also, poor investment decisions led to lower-than-expected return on investments. These three factors combined to leave the pensions underfunded.

STOP agrees Maryland must address this shortfall, but we propose real solutions to the underlying problems. If the state dumps some or all of these pensions obligations onto localities, the results will be disastrous. When the state stopped paying for Social Security for teachers some years back, class sizes increased dramatically and school construction ground to a halt. Students attended school in too-hot or too-cold trailers instead of classrooms.

Transferring pensions does nothing to address real problems.

It would merely pass the buck–really billions of bucks–in a way that would exacerbate local fiscal problems. The same crunch Maryland faces on the state level is also hurting localities, leaving budgets overstressed and putting jobs and services on the chopping block. The counties and Baltimore City cannot afford to shoulder the pensions burden. Shifting that burden will not make it any smaller or easier to bear.

Shifting pensions obligations would hit Montgomery County particularly hard, but all local jurisdictions will suffer. MoCo has a restrictive revenues formula, making it very difficult to increase revenues. If the counties and Baltimore have to pay for pensions, they will lose many of the best teachers, and have to slash public services, layoff workers, and close facilities including schools, libraries, and county offices.

We’ve seen this problem coming for some time. WTOP.com reported in January 2009: “[Montgomery County Executive Ike] Leggett plans to make sure that Montgomery County does not get stuck with the state’s bill for teacher pensions. The pensions [transfer] would add another $100 million to the county’s current fiscal shortfall of approximately $500 million.” Quoting Leggett’s analysis of the problem, “I don’t think that was some kind of conspiracy,” says Leggett, “It’s just simply a reflection of some of the errors and negligence that occurred at the state level.”

Fast forward to September 2010, and WTOP.com reported the same concerns. “[Ike] Leggett projects a more than $200 million shortfall for fiscal year 2012, or more depending on income tax returns and whether the state shifts more costs to the county. [Former] County Council President Nancy Floreen says it’s too early to say where cuts should come. ‘The other things on the table this year are what’s going to come out of Annapolis,’ Floreen says. One of the big questions is whether state lawmakers will require counties to pay for teacher pensions. Currently, the state pays teacher pensions.” See: http://www.wtop.com/?hlpage=255&nid=706&sid=1565430 (2009 article) and http://www.wtopnews.com/?sid=2063361&nid=25 (2010 article).

Maryland needs real solutions and real leadership, not passing the buck.

STOP agrees Maryland lawmakers must take decisive action to address this shortfall, but we propose real solutions to the underlying problems, not treating the pension obligations like a hot potato. Last year, then-Delegate, current State Senator Roger Manno filed HB 10 to protect education and public services by fully funding pensions on the state level. He called for combined reporting, progressive taxation, and other state-level revenues to shore up the pensions trust funds.

Combined reporting would close a loophole some corporations use to avoid paying all or part of their taxes on income earned in Maryland. Other states have enacted combined reporting, and found that it’s a fair and effective method to accurately determine how much corporations should pay to states. The formula is precise and detailed, leading some to claim it’s “too complicated.” The complexity is required to accurately assess tax burdens. See: https://mcprogressive.wordpress.com/2010/01/09/wth-is-combined-reporting-and-why-do-we-need-it/

An article prepared by the New Rules Project explains combined reporting: “Many retail chains earn profits at stores nationwide, but have developed an accounting scheme to evade paying their full share of state corporate income taxes. Tax experts believe the practice is costing states billions of dollars in lost revenue. It has also given chains an advantage over locally owned businesses, which must pay state income tax on all of their earnings. Twenty-one states are not vulnerable to these tax-evasion schemes, because they have enacted a policy known as combined reporting.”

The article lists corporations using loopholes to avoid taxes in Maryland and other states including The Gap, Home Depot, Ikea, Kmart, Kohl’s, Limited Brands (which owns Bath & Body Works, Victoria’s Secret, The Limited, Payless Shoes, and other chains), Staples, and Wal-Mart as companies that escape taxes, but which would be forced to pay their fair share under combined reporting.

Also from the New Rules Project: “As of November 2010, twenty-three states have adopted combined reporting. These states are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.” By contrast Maryland is one of the states that “have not adopted combined reporting and are vulnerable to chains escaping their state tax obligations by shifting income to subsidiaries.” See: http://www.newrules.org/retail/rules/level-playing-field-taxation/combined-reporting

Maryland can and should close this loophole, and STOP believes Maryland should use those and other revenues to address the pensions short fall–as outlined in HB 10. STOP remains open to any and all proposals that actually address the situation while protecting public schools and local services.

We need your help. Support public schools and local services. Please contribute to STOP. (PayPal is a safe, easy way to pay online without revealing your credit card number. Contributions to STOP are not tax deductible.)

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