The Music has stopped

Posted Jun 27, 2019

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra on strike/locked out

IThe BSO management and the players union are at a stalemate. As time ticks by, more and more information comes to light about the musicians’ pay and benefits and the mismanagement of the orchestra. Here are some facts you should know. I found them in multiple stories and think they are what taxpayers should know about the BSO. · Musicians get 11 weeks of paid time off per year. · Musicians make an average of $81K per year (it must be a 9 month job with 3 months of paid time off). · Musicians are unionized and this labor dispute has been going on since the fall of 2018, 9 months, and no contract since January 15, 2019. · Musicians will have to go on COBRA for their health benefits July 1. They will not loose their health insurance as they continue to say in the news. · Musicians can get unemployment while off this summer. · The BSO management is delinquent in paying vendors $2.1 million. · The BSO management owed vendors $1.2 million in 2017. · The BSO management cannot “speculate on what the accounts payable balance will be as of September 1, 2019.” · The BSO needs a good bookkeeper if they don’t know what they owe people. If you do any work or sell any supplies to the BSO, they don’t know how they will pay you. · Over the last 10 years, the BSO has lost $16 million. · The BSO went on a 9 day European tour in 2018 despite their mounting debt. They received 3 out of 5 stars for their performance yet hope to be invited back. · Even while loosing money every year, the BSO spent $5 million in 2016 in a season long celebration of their centennial. That’s a lot of parties. · The BSO gets almost $2 mill per year from the MD Arts Council budget, $600K from Baltimore County, and additional funding from other counties around the region every year=well over $3 million per year from taxpayers. It looks like almost every time the BSO plays a concert, they loose money. Management is right to finally address this structural problem. Taxpayers should not bail out the BSO to pay off their outstanding debt or to fund musicians who get 11 weeks of paid time off every year. And when you are in debt, you don’t take a trip to Europe. That’s just digging your hole deeper for a fun time across the pond. The management and musicians will have to find a way to attract more people to watch their performances. Baltimore City’s crime problem is logically playing a role in declining attendance. The audiences for the BSO are aging and some of those supporters may not come back as they age out of attending events like the BSO. None of this information was presented to the General Assembly in Annapolis when they asked for help to get things on track. We were assured that they had a plan and the problem was small. Had lawmakers known the breadth and depth of the problems facing the BSO, HB 1404 would not have passed. Delegate Nic Kipke and I, on behalf of the House Republican Caucus, sent a letter to Governor Hogan urging him to withhold the $1.2 million. The BSO must fix the labor dispute with a reasonable pay and paid time off negotiations for musicians, as well as present a plan to get the BSO out of debt and on a sustainable track.

Your opinion wanted!

Thursday on the House of Delegates floor, we introduced an amendment to the budget to transfer $1million from AG Frosh’s request to sue President Trump and send it to school safety programs. Currently, AG Brian Frosh has sued the federal government more than 20 times with zero success. That money would be much more effective helping keep our students safe. It is so disappointing that the amendment failed largely along Party lines. The partisan defense of AG Frosh trumped common sense.

Sanctuary State - Update - Good and Bad News

The Judiciary Committee voted down my bill, HB 1308, Keep Our Communities Safe Act, to prevent Maryland from becoming a Sanctuary State. It was a straight Party line vote. The good news is that the terrible bill to turn Maryland into a Sanctuary State has not been voted on. I do not think this bill will move out of the Judiciary.

Fighting Maryland’s stealth tax increase

Maryland families could see an increase in STATE taxes by over $500 million!

The results of the historic tax relief package from the federal government is an increase in state income taxes only in high tax states like Maryland. The analysis indicates that if the State Legislature does not act, Marylanders will get a huge $500 million stealth tax increase.

Yesterday, I fought part of the budget that transfers $200 million in “personal income tax revenue” to a special education fund. If the legislature wants to pass a tax increase for education, it should be a standalone bill that citizens can weigh in on and legislators can be held accountable for their vote.

Passing a tax increase by not acting on the federal tax reform fallout is not a “windfall” as some are calling it, it’s a tax increase on Maryland families. The truth is almost every Marylander will see a reduction in their federal taxes but it will be offset by an increase in their Maryland taxes. The liberals will blame it on President Trump instead of taking reasonability for the high taxes they have levied on Marylanders.

The media outlets in Maryland should cover this story for what it is – a huge tax increase on Maryland families.

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