He also won't propose shifting the costs of teacher pensions to local governments — at least this year. That announcement won him a standing ovation from anxious local leaders at a pre-session meeting with the Maryland Association of Counties, but he could just be delaying the pain: He said he wants to tackle systematic changes before having a "conversation" about making a shift.
A pension sustainability commission chaired by Democratic former House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. has proposed several ideas: increasing the number of years before an employee becomes eligible for a pension and health care; pegging cost-of-living increases to investment returns rather than inflation; and reducing other benefits.
Patrick Moran, director of the Maryland chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, has vowed to fight "tooth and nail" against any proposed changes to the package of benefits for retired state workers.
The state teachers union is pushing the idea of delaying — Annapolis-speak for killing — wholesale changes to the plan. David Helfman, executive director of the Maryland State Education Association, called the pension commission's work "offensive" and "rushed." He said lawmakers who support reducing benefits would hear "loud and clear" from his members.
Fresh from the November elections, a group of lawmakers and election lawyers convened by Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler is proposing 25 changes to the state's campaign finance rules.
The panel is calling for tighter state regulations on giving by political slates and limited-liability corporations, two-oft criticized ways employed by donors to circumvent the intent of contribution limits.
Members of political slates may transfer unlimited amounts of money to one another. The so-called LLC loophole enables donors to evade limits by giving through multiple limited-liability corporations.
Gansler's panel is also recommending that lawmakers take a look at the limits of $4,000 per candidate per election cycle and $10,000 per donor per cycle, which have remained unchanged since 1991.
Busch has said he believes legislators will make another run at campaign finance reform in the coming session. But both Busch and Miller have been cool to Gansler's panel because they were not consulted about which lawmakers to include.
Baltimore Sun reporters Michael Dresser and Timothy B. Wheeler contributed to this article.
Other issues on the agenda
Health exchange: Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown will lead O'Malley administration efforts to create a framework for a health insurance exchange, a step necessary before the federal health care overhaul can be carried out in the state.
Abortion: The recent high-profile case of New Jersey Dr. Steven C. Brigham performing illegal abortions in Maryland opens the door for tighter regulations. Also, the arrival of Dr. LeRoy H. Carhart, a specialist in late-term abortions, sparked outrage from abortion opponents.
Charter schools: Look for efforts to make it easier to open charter schools, including erasing a requirement that local school boards sign off on their creation charters.
Invest Maryland: O'Malley will push a bill to create a $100 million venture capital fund for investment in high-tech and biotech companies. The money would come from insurance companies paying taxes in advance at a discount.
Redistricting: Busch and Miller say the task of redrawing the state's eight congressional and 188 legislative districts based on the 2010 Census will wait until after the session. They expect a brief special session next summer.