Cecil County Commish Will Not Cut per Pupil School Funds, but Protest State Pension Cost Shift to County

February 28, 2012

Cecil County Commissioners will provide at least the same level of per pupil schools spending in the upcoming county budget as provided this year, Commissioner Diana Broomell (R-4) said Tuesday, even if the state passes on some of the costs of teacher pensions to the county.

During last year’s budget deliberations, Broomell advocated “keeping the option open” of asking the state for a waiver of the so-called “maintenance of effort” rules that require a county to provide at least the same level of per pupil funding as in the previous year. But county budget officials pointed out that Cecil County’s economic situation was not so dire that the state would consider a waiver and eventually the commissioners agreed to abide by the maintenance of effort requirement.

In response to a Cecil Times question, Broomell said that the commissioners have “collectively agreed we will not be seeking a waiver” for the Fiscal 2013 budget. She noted the costs of school maintenance, repairs and other costs will require adequate funds in the new budget.

(However, since school enrollment is calculated at 111 fewer students than in the current budget year, the ‘maintenance of effort’ level will be $485,000 less in county funds in the new budget.)

The news came as a relief to some members of the county School Board, who joined the commissioners and the county’s educational leadership Tuesday as part of a statewide campaign to protest the proposed shift of half of the costs of teacher, library and community college staff pensions to county government. The state currently picks up all the costs but the Governor and some state legislative leaders say the time has come to shift up to half of the costs back to the counties.

At a morning press conference, all five County Commissioners joined with leaders of the county schools, Cecil College, the library and the Cecil County Classroom Teachers Association to denounce the proposal and urge local citizens to contact state legislators to demand that the state clean up the pension system without dumping half the burden on local government.

County governments, labor organizations, teachers and community colleges have formed a statewide “Stop the Shift” coalition. The group has created a website, http://www.stoptheshiftmd.com/ that provides detailed information on the issue, including county by county cost estimates of the impact of the pending budget proposal that would pass through half of the pension costs to the counties in a staged phase-in.

The coalition calculates that Cecil County would have to pay about $4.3 million in Fiscal 2013, which begins July 1, 2012. The costs would escalate to $6.4 million in Fiscal 2017 for Cecil County.

Statewide, the proposal would cost counties about $240 million in Fiscal 2013 and $1.6 billion over the next five years, according to the coalition.

Commissioner Robert Hodge (R-5) said the key cause of the state educational pension crisis has been a policy of underfunding state contributions to the system in the past decade. In 2000, the pension funds had more than enough assets to cover liabilities of future promised pension benefits to teachers and related educational personnel. But now pension funds are woefully inadequate to meet the obligations to teachers in the future.

Dr. Stephen Pannill, president of Cecil College, said a change in the method of computing the state’s contribution formula, a vote by the General Assembly in 2006 to increase benefits—retroactive to 1998—and underfunding are responsible for the state pension crisis.

Some critics of the current system have argued that the counties have had no incentive to take into account the costs of pensions when they give popular pay raises to local teachers while the state was responsible for picking up the tab for higher pension benefits based on higher salaries.

But Dr. D’ette Devine, superintendent of the county public schools, said that “salaries are not the cause of this problem” and in fact Cecil County teachers have had no cost of living raise in two years.

Commissioners Board President James Mullin (R-1) said the commissioners were encouraging all citizens to contact state legislators to protest the “pension shift” to the counties.

But Mullin refused to criticize Sen. E.J. Pipkin (R-36), who first proposed dumping part of the teacher pension costs back on the counties in a budget proposal two years ago and in legislation he sponsored last year in Annapolis. “I think the key thing we’re doing today is to deal with today, and not the past,” Mullin said.

Legislative analysts last year scored the Pipkin bill, SB 629, as costing Cecil County over $14.1 million over a four-year period. Pipkin sought to challenge the nonpartisan fiscal analysis of the bill by the legislative analysts and he claimed Cecil County would not pay any extra costs. But he pulled the bill from consideration shortly before a scheduled hearing.

Pipkin had also proposed forcing newly hired teachers to participate in a plan similar to a 401(K) “defined contribution” retirement plan, instead of the traditional “defined benefit” pension that pays a guaranteed monthly benefit upon retirement.

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31 Responses to Cecil County Commish Will Not Cut per Pupil School Funds, but Protest State Pension Cost Shift to County

  1. Tidewater on February 29, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Ms Devine you are so wrong! High salaries are used to calculate the retirement payments sent out by the state.

    Does the state negotiate salaries with teachers? No. Senator Pipkin clearly is the smartest person in the room here.

    Now we’re getting somewhere.

    • Rick O'Shea on March 1, 2012 at 11:55 am

      Tedwater, would not a higher salary generate a higher payment into the retirement fund, assuming the same percentage contribution rate? A salary of $100,000.00 per year would generate twice the contribution as a salary of $50,000.00 per year. Sadly, it has become an under funded Social Security type Ponzi scheme. Pipkin may be the smartest person in the Smikin Room, but not in the real world.

      • Tidewater on March 2, 2012 at 4:49 pm

        Social Security and the pension crisis in Maryland are similar in that both governments promised unreasonable retirement benefits packages that far exceed either governments ability to meet the liabilities of those packages.

        The Congress made promises it can’t keep, but can print more money at the Federal Reserve to pay for Cadillac employee retirement packages. Here in Maryland, the local boards of education made promises they didn’t have to keep since the state was footing the bill.

        Now, the state is having trouble raising taxes to help cover the pension costs, can’t print money like the feds, so hey, why shouldn’t the locals pay for Cadillac retirement benefits they promised to get the best and the brightest education employees?

        This is a great time for the state and local governments to get out of the retirement business altogether.
        It’s a good time for education employees to stop receiving automatic pay raises every year just because they aged another year. Like everyone else, education employees should have to fund their own retirements.

        The impact of Cadillac retirement packages for education employees is destined to bankrupt every property owner in Maryland, if we continue to provide Cadillac retirement packages to government employees that we can’t afford.

        • Jackie on March 3, 2012 at 1:20 pm

          Tediwater, Again you show your absolute ignorance regarding the teacher pension system. These Cadillac retirement packages you describe were negotiated entirely at the state level with the approval of the legislature. Both Pipkin and Smigiel supported these Cadillac benefits with their votes in 2006.

          You need to get your head out of the Smipkin echo chamber and do a little of your own studying and research on this issue, so that you can understand how the pension system is set up, and who determines benefit amounts as well employee contribution amounts. Here is a research paper that might offer you a little bit of education on this subject: http://www.abell.org/pubsitems/ed_pensions_1106.pdf.

          This article talks about the Maryland pension system and the rate of liability for the Maryland pension system, not the Cecil County or Montgomery County pensions system. That’s because it is one state pension system. Although salaries vary from one county to the next, the rate of payout is uniform across the state, because local governments have no authority to change the type of plan offered, the amount of employer or employee contribution, or anything else about the plan.

          This newest proposal to pass the bill to the counties does not grant any new authority to the local school district to reform or alter the current pension system. Pipkin’s proposal last year also did not grant local control of the plan.

          Teacher salaries vary across the state, for a few good reasons. Pay for any job varies, depending on the region in which an individual is employed because the cost of living is different in different areas. ..Beyond that, in urban areas there are different challenges associated with the job that should be reflected in the salaries.

          Bottom line is that your bosses, Pipkin and Smigiel, played an active role in creating this problem, but like most politicians, rather than accept responsibility for their own failures and try to fix the problem, they would rather pass the buck to their constitutents and blame someone else. Last year when Pipkin proposed the pension shift, as well as currently, you are acting as their mouthpiece in this effort. Shame on you. It’s interesting to see that both Pipkin and O’Malley see eye to eye on this issue.

  2. Jackie on March 3, 2012 at 12:34 am

    Tediwater, the state determines the pension amount, not the local government. While the local school board negotiates teacher salaries, the state legislature determines the ratio of pension benefits in proportion to that salary.

    As you should know, your idols, Papas Pipkin and Smigiel, voted to raise pension benefits in 2006; the local government had no say in that. While they increased the benefits (increasing spending), they didn’t provide a mechanism for funding the increases by way of spending cuts in other programs, etc. This FISCALLY IRRESPONSIBLE behavior created this problem. (This is exactly what people in the TEA party have revolted against at the federal level, increased spending with borrowed money.) Our state legislators, including Pipkin and Smigiel, have failed to live within their means, and now that the bill is coming due, they want to pass it off to us, in an unfunded mandate that will lead to higher taxes.

    The local government has no power to change the benefit levels or to change the type of retirement plan being offered. Only the state has the power to do that, but they have decided that rather than take political heat for addressing the structural deficiencies in the current system, it is much easier to pass that cost onto the Cecil County taxpayers. Only a Smipkin would suggest that is a good thing. They continually talk out of both sides of their mouths exposing themselves for the RINOS/hypocrites they are. (A prime example is Ted Patterson pretending to be against increasing government regulation, yet he went to school to become a “master planner” and was recognized for his work in promoting government mandated smart growth.) The hypocrisy of the Smipkins has totally destroyed their credibility, and the teacher pension issue really exposes that hypocrisy, since this is virtually the same thing Pipkin proposed last year.

    Currently, a beginning teacher with a four year degree and a teaching certificate makes approximately 43k per year. What would you suggest would be the appropriate salary for a person with a bachelor’s degree entering into a professional position?

  3. Tidewater on March 5, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Jackie, just how much of our income do you and Ms. Devine, a former teacher union President, want government to take from us? There is a limit you know.

    Unless Ms. Devine begins to address this crisis as a fiscally responsible adult by decreasing educator wages/benefits instead of funding raises every year, the state is heading toward bankruptcy and property owners are too!

    The legislature is acting to deal with this crisis. Ms. Devine and Jackie are not. Doesn’t anybody accept personal responsibility for anything anymore?

    First year educator salaries are not only part of the problem, they are at the very root of the economic crisis we face today. While 43k is a great start on any pay scale, this “professional” educator will retire with 65% of a salary that increases every year for 30 years, automatically. Do the math, and think how high our property taxes will have to increase to fund this “professional” in retirement. We might be able to afford a 22 year old, 43k first year “professional” educator, but certainly can’t afford to fund a six figure Cadillac retirement package for a 52 year old who is living longer and longer, causing property taxes to go up and up to fund it all.

    The Board of Education must reduce the automatic increases in educator salaries and benefits. Stop the Shift of money from taxpayers wallets used to fund Cadillac educator retirement packages or go broke.

  4. Jackie on March 6, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    Tediwater, I am not opposed to raises; they exist in any profession as an incentive to work harder. Raises are based in free-market thinking. I am opposed to automatic raises, as I believe that raises should be earned. However, I am an educator, and I will tell you that while there are those who certainly haven’t earned their raise, the vast majority of teachers do their jobs as expected. My purpose in merit based pay would not be to lower the salaries, but to eliminate poor teachers, and provide incentive to those who just do the minimum to work harder.

    You are skirting the issue by focusing on teacher salaries. If you research pay in professional fields, a teacher’s pay is moderate in comparison to other professions. If the pension is guaranteeing 65% of a teacher’s annual salary over the course of his/her employment, regardless of current economic conditions, then the problem lies with the pension system, and it needs to be reformed.

    What is your solution: keep the pension as it stands and start teachers at 42k and never offer a raise under any conditions? Or should we start teachers at 20k, and give them gradual raises so that after 20 years, they may make a middle-class salary? What would your pay scale look like? Why do you keep covering for those who created the mess?

    Ms. Devine didn’t create a defined benefit plan. She didn’t determine that teachers would get 65% of their average pay after retirement. Ms. Devine didn’t create the system whereby teacher raises are tied to the pension system, so they automatically increase pension liability for taxpayers. In fact, the Superintendent doesn’t determine teacher pay at all. The board of education sets the pay scale.

    Your fiscally irresponsible teammate Sen. E.J. Pipkin voted for that; then, when he wants to pass the bill he created onto taxpayers who are certainly already paying more than enough to the state, you say that is a good thing. Why? Because the Smipkin oath of loyalty dominates your behavior, rather than conservative principles.

    You have shown time and again, you have no principles, except those that serve you politically. Shame on you, Tediwater. It’s past time for you to put on your man pants and start thinking for yourself.

  5. Tidewater on March 7, 2012 at 10:44 am

    [Personal attack removed by CT]…Get the state out of the pension business altogether and give each child an educational voucher to attend a school of their choice: private, public, home, charter or whatever. Competition will solve this problem not a one size fits all faux-public education system.

    If Ms. Devine is so smart, then she can open up her own school, on her own dime and pay her staff all the pension benefits her educational business can support in competition with the rest.

    Ms. Devine should announce TODAY that the educator salary scale is frozen, forever. NO STEP (automatic salary) INCREASES hiding behind a couple of staff reductions anymore.

    You educrats will say anything to protect the education plantation because its all about the gravy train and not the kids. No child should be forced to attend a failed public “school” just because educrats desire a Cadillac retirement most Cecil Countians can only dream about. Stop the greedy shift from taxpayer wallets to support Cadillac educator retirement benefits and keep our property taxes low.

    • Bob Amato on March 7, 2012 at 12:39 pm

      Ted has spent too much time in the classroom and not enough in the real world. Please tell us how you would navigate your voucher plan through the MD House and Senate for the Governor’s signature.

      • Tidewater on March 8, 2012 at 7:00 pm

        So Bobby, tell me how we stop the educrats from ripping us off, year after year? If the entitlement crowd doesn’t get it from state taxes they get it from local taxes. Either way we are nothing but slaves to those who hold our children hostage for Cadillac pension benefits.

        Are you, like Jackie, an education terrorist? Do we all have to go broke to pay off your student loans?

        Stop the Shift in taxpayer money from their wallets to fat cat educators. Stop the insanity that the millions we spend these people actually produce something besides more shills for the “school” system.

        Sidebar: Mr. Editor, your un-American attitude toward freedom of speech and expression is disgusting.

        • Bob Amato on March 9, 2012 at 8:28 am

          So Teddy, education costs have gone up just like everything else. We must deal with Federal and State mandates. The State of MD under-funded teacher pensions and now wants to shift the problem to the counties. I am not an “education terrorist”, whatever that is. I believe that the cost of education is less than the cost of ignorance.

          Sidebar: I have never had a student loan. I feel your pain if you are paying off loans for your undergraduate and graduate degrees from the U of D.

          • Tidewater on March 9, 2012 at 10:31 am

            Look Bobby, we need to get rid of the excuse, they made me do it. We need leadership that will not fall into the same narrative when times demand decisive action.

            Yes, some costs go up and some costs go down. The price of a tv- black and white, no remote control in 1960 was around $400. Take $400 to Best Buy today and you will get a much better product.

            Not true with public education.Why? Because our politicians make promises with other peoples money just to get elected. What do they care, they get theirs and move on. Leaving taxpayers with perpetually increasing property taxes and an inferior product.

            WE can stop the shift of taxpayer monies from their wallets to fund educrats Cadillac retirements if we take a whole new approach to funding education. We must create a healthy free market for education or we are going to tax our selves into poverty.

            We desperately need a damper on public education spending. Public education funding is a bubble that will soon burst just like the real estate bubble. Salaries and benefits eat up more of the education budget then any thing else so it’s a good place to start.

            Public education is not to big to fail. It is failing taxpayers, and more importantly our children everyday.

            Not Teddy, and please….not an indebted Blue Hen. How personally insulting! But I did spend many nights in a public library.

          • Bob Amato on March 12, 2012 at 4:51 pm

            Teddy, Teddy, Teddy: This is a reply to your post on the 1960 $400.00 TV. Adjusted for inflation, that item would cost $3,070.37 today. Nice try. Please respond to my request for your plan to implement a voucher program in MD.

        • Cecil Times on March 9, 2012 at 8:57 am

          Tidewater, we’ve given you wide latitude in your comments posted here. But we draw the line at some of your past personal insults against named individuals. And we don’t think telling someone, by name, to ‘take a long walk off a short pier,’ as you once did, constitutes civil discussion or advances the “logic” of your arguments.

        • Jackie on March 11, 2012 at 1:23 am

          Tediwater, define “education terrorist” for me, and please explain how I fit that description. I have advocated for a real reform of the pension system while you have just advocated shifting costs to taxpayers. Also, Tediwater, like Bob, I have never had a student loan.

          In the fervor of all your ranting, you seem to have gotten a bit off-topic, and you haven’t addressed the pension problem, and you haven’t acknowledged your mentors, Pipkin and Smigiel’s, role in creating this problem. If you want property taxes low, then you should oppose this shift, and you should tell Papas Pipkin and Smigiel to propose real pension reform.

          Remember, it wasn’t too long ago, that both Pipkin and Smigiel wanted unionization with binding arbitration for our local sheriff’s department. The start up costs for Cecil County taxpayers of that bill was 100k, not including any legal or clerical fees the county would incur as a result of arbitration. The main beef of the FOP was that the sheriff’s deputies wanted to retire earlier, with more money in a defined benefit plan– you know, just like the “Cadillac” benefits you were just ranting against, except then, you were for them, and you were for them being forced on the county by a few members of our state delegation, against the will of the taxpayers and against the will of our elected commissioners. In fact, you were for an outside arbiter, that would not be accountable to the taxpayer, determining pension benefits and pay, rather than elected officials negotiating on behalf of the taxpayers. You and the other Smipkins refused to support anyone for office if they did not support that legislation.

          Again you talk out of both sides of your mouth. You were for Cadillac benefits before you were against them. You don’t want to reform the pension system; instead you tell us that another unfunded mandate on the local taxpayer is a good thing. You say you are an advocate of the free market, but you have written papers and received recognition for your advocacy of government initiated and controlled “smart growth.” You have no principles, Tediwater; you just do whatever is politically expedient at the time.

          • Bob Amato on March 12, 2012 at 4:58 pm

            The SMIPKINS also trumpeted a tax cap that would have made it impossible to raise the revenue to pay the costs of binding arbitration. Brilliant. Appeal to the No Tax Increase voting block as well as the FOP voting block. Let the County Commissioners try to solve the problem — while they return to Annapolis and claim to be the Fiscal Conservative Team.

  6. Madre19 on March 13, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    You should attend a Board of Education meeting. If you took the time to get the facts rather than ranting about what you perceive as the truth, you would open your eyes & see the truth. Teachers do not get automatic pay raises every year – name the last time they did? Until you get the facts, STOP attacking Dr. Devine!

    • Art Framarini on March 15, 2012 at 8:22 pm

      Madre19, ever heard of a step increase at the Board of Ed? That is as close to an automatic pay increase as one may get. They have received those virtually every year, even in down economies. I guess that is not a pay increase according to CCPS– so sorry.

    • Tidewater on March 16, 2012 at 8:38 am

      Why don’t YOU go to a board meeting and ask Dr. Devine, a former teacher union president, how many “step increases”(government speak for automatic pay raises) there are on the salary scale for educrats, and why she continues to demand funding them during a time of economic crisis?

      After you go to a BoE meeting, why don’t YOU go to the Tax Assessors office and ask them why your property taxes continue to increase when the value of your property decreases.

      I’ll stop attacking Dr. Devine when she stops demanding automatic pay increases to fund a failed education model.

      • Bob Amato on March 16, 2012 at 12:37 pm

        Teddy: Please give us YOUR plan to fix the education system.

        • Tidewater on March 16, 2012 at 6:47 pm

          So you recognize the system is going to bankrupt us and needs fixing. That’s good news.

          The least we can do is provide parents a better market place for education with an educational voucher equal to half the annual amount of per pupil spending.

          Parents could use the funds to attend a private, parochial, charter, alternative or home school of their choice.

          Freedom to choose is an important American value wouldn’t you agree?

          What’s YOUR plan, Bobby?

          • Bob Amato on March 17, 2012 at 8:07 am

            Well, Teddy, you finally proffer a “least we can do” suggestion rather than your usual screed. The per pupil cost of education in Cecil County is approximately $12,600.00 according to the Center for American Progress (Cecil Whig 2/11/2011). Under your plan a family with two children would pay $12,600 out of pocket for a school following the same standards as CCPS as well as their real estate taxes. Home schooling would be the only affordable option for some, but it is not for everyone. I don’t have a PLAN to fix YOUR problem.

          • Tidewater on March 18, 2012 at 10:28 am


            Thanks for the current numbers, but your missing the point.

            Taxpayers already provide funding for per pupil expenditures of $12,600 annually. Let’s use the money that’s already available, but free it up so parents/students can find the school that meets their needs. Lets allow parents the freedom to decide what’s best for their children instead of this one size fits all approach that has failed us terribly.

            Cut the kids a check/educational voucher for just half the current per pupil expenditure, and encourage the development of a competitive educational market place with those dollars so all can pursue the education they desire.

            With his desire for a new vocational school, I’m sure Mr. Hepbron can put together the resources for a very good privately run but publicly funded voc tech school for those who want that kind of an education.

            No need to raise taxes, no need to charge parents any additional fees. It works like the Independence welfare cards do. Taxpayers provide the funding, recipients choose the school/product to purchase and taxpayers don’t go broke.

            Gee Bobby, there’s no need to be snarky about this topic. Unless you stand to lose a big fat contract with CCPS, I don’t get the attitude dude? We both want what’s best for kids, right?

  7. Madre19 on March 16, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    Tidewater – I have been to BoE meetings & never saw you at any of them. I see a superintendent who answers to a board of 5 distinct board members. I see responsible union reps that negotiate for less than they deserve but are being fiscally responsible. Dr. Devine doesn’t demand anything …! It’s because of people like you that the WRONG people keep getting elected in our country, state, and county!

    • Tidewater on March 17, 2012 at 12:17 pm

      How do you know if you saw me or not? Do you know everyone at all BoE meetings? Really?

      When I used to go to BoE meetings, I saw a six figured french speaking ex union boss with lots of good ole boy connections preparing to retire with a Cadillac pension who doesn’t even live in Cecil County!

      I saw “teacher union reps”, really lobbyists who make a very good living off the dues teachers pay them to lobby for automatic pay increases disguised as “step increases” that only step up not down and who have absolutely NO respect for anyone who doesn’t accept their one size fits all approach to public education.

      I saw a “Dr.” moan about the same thing year after year about needing more money to meet the educational needs of the community followed by endless excuses for a failed and out dated educational model.

      I used to attend meetings regularly, but it didn’t take long to realize its NOT about the kids. As the former “Super” used to say, “education is a business”.

      One size fits all education has failed our community and country, and would be out of business if it wasn’t a monopoly funded by automatic increases in property taxes with coerced “customers”.

      No one is forced to attend a public park. No one is forced to attend a public library. Why should children be forced to attend a “public” school and their parents and non parents, be forced to pay for it all just because they have to live someplace?

      It’s because of socialist people like YOU Madre19 that we are on the verge of financial melt down. Start paying attention and stop the shift of taxpayer dollars to fund Cadillac educrat pensions and demand freedom of choice in education.

      • Bob Amato on March 18, 2012 at 8:16 am

        Teddy, show us the “Teddy Plan To Fix the Education System”.

        • Bob Amato on March 19, 2012 at 6:46 am

          So, your plan is to give parents a check (voucher) for half the per pupil cost of a public education, which they would use to pay tuition to a private school. This assumes that a private for-profit business could operate and turn a profit at 1/2 the funding of the public school system. How would they provide the buildings? Could your voucher be used at a religious school? Better check with Ron Paul on that one.

          I am surprised to read that you support Independence Cards since you promote yourself as a staunch conservative. Asking to see your plan is snarky? I have never sought or received a contract with CCPS and will not in the future. How many bureaucrats will it take to monitor your publicly-funded private businesses in order to ensure that standards are being met?

          Don’t call me dude. It is for the children. Do some more work on your plan and report back when the details are worked out. Try to elimnate the name-calling.

  8. Fred on March 19, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    Any reference to our “broken” public school system is patently false.

    Fact: Maryland has been ranked #1 in public schools nationwide for the last 3 years. Last time I checked, a #1 ranking is NOT failing or broken.

    Why do folks want to strip public school funding when we have the best public schools in the country? I guess now that the system is fixed, we should break it by not funding it.

    I agree with an earlier post that the cost of ignorance is far greater than what we are paying into the school system now.

    • Tidewater on March 20, 2012 at 7:42 am

      Your right Fred, the system is working just right for educrats who retire with Cadillac pensions.

      Too bad it’s not working of our kids or the taxpayers.

  9. Madre19 on March 20, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Tidewater: did you see the Cecil Whig today? Cecil County Public Schools’ graduation rate is HIGHER than the state of MD. Broken? I say no sir. Perfect? Of course not. It seems to me that you are speaking of the wrong “Dr” as superintendent. There have been more cost-cutting measures in the last couple of years under the new guidance than in previous years.

  10. Joe on March 21, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    Go gack into hibernation with the rest of the bears! I think winter may be back soon!

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