March 14, 2011
By the thousands, members of AFSCME Maryland will rally this evening at the State House in Annapolis to protest proposed budget cuts that will devastate public services and education, and to fight changes to retirement security and health care benefits for teachers, librarians and other state employees. The rally follows AFSCME’s January’s Lobby Day, during which members met with their lawmakers on the first day of the legislative session to protect vital public services, including foster care, public health, juvenile services, libraries and corrections. Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) has proposed $1 billion in spending cuts for fiscal 2012. AFSCME Maryland is suggesting the state reduce its use of outside contractors to reduce spending, rather than cut services. Spending on outside contractors is now more than 30 percent of the state budget. AFSCME Maryland also is urging the repeal of the sunset on the millionaires’ tax; closing corporate tax loopholes; increasing gas and alcohol taxes; expanding the sales tax to more services; and taxing Internet purchases. Preventing cuts to state pension benefits is also a major focus of AFSCME’s fight. Among the proposals under consideration: increasing the contribution rates and the number of years that employees must work before retirement and to qualify for health benefits – and the elimination of cost-of-living adjustments.