And other legislative updates in this week’s Up the Street
On Wednesday, Governor Hogan introduced his FY21 budget proposal, outlining priorities and expenditures that total $47.9 billion. This increase includes the $355m for public education that was outlined in the 2019 version of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future to jumpstart the early year phase in of the Kirwan Commission recommendations. This budget does not change the inadequate funding formula, but we aim to do that through legislation this year that would take effect, if successfully passed, with the FY22 budget introduced next year.
Here are some highlights of the FY21 budget shared by the Hogan Administration:
Up the Street will have a more complete analysis of the budget proposal and what it means for our public schools, educator pensions, and other state and local priorities in next week’s issue.
This MSEA Newsfeed article answers a question that is being asked around Annapolis a lot these days, “did the Thornton Bridge to Excellence Act work, or was it a failure?” While some political rhetoric likes to suggest that the new investments from Thornton failed, the reality is that the numbers don’t lie — particularly the data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). At full implementation of the new investments early in this century, Maryland moved from 31st in the nation on NAEP scores to 6th in the nation, and got as high as 3rd in the country before the investments declined as a result of the Great Recession. This analysis should be used as the state discusses the new investments that our schools desperately need to meet adequacy goals and create the world-class schools that our students and communities deserve.
The Fair Funding Coalition introduced several revenue proposals that could be used to fund the recommendations from the Kirwan Commission and make short-and long-term investments in the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. If all of the reforms were adopted, it could generate more than $2 billion in additional state aid, nearly covering the share of new state dollars needed at full implementation of the Blueprint. The revenue proposals would clean up our tax code by closing corporate loopholes and ending ineffective or misused tax credits, removing special interest tax breaks that give away millions of dollars to businesses without creating a boost to our economy, and improving the upside-down tax system so that low- and middle-income Marylanders could pay less while wealthier individuals pay more. These reforms will be introduced as separate legislation throughout the session.
The Built to Learn Act (HB 1 and SB 1) will have its first public hearing next week on January 23 in the House Appropriations Committee. This legislation is a priority issue in MSEA’s legislative program this year and will free up billions of dollars in school construction bonds over the next five years that will allow the state and local school districts to make significant improvements in the new construction and renovation needs throughout the state. At a committee briefing earlier this week, an analyst for Moody’s rating agency noted that the historically low interest rates made this the ideal time to invest big in infrastructure bonds, as outlined in this legislation.
The State Senate chamber received a makeover of sorts at the start of the week when it added two new portraits on the walls of the back of the chamber. Portraits of Verda Mae Freeman Welcome and Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. replaced two of former Maryland governors. Welcome wasn’t just the first African American woman to be elected to the Maryland Senate, she was the first to be elected to any state senate in this country, back in 1962. Miller was named senate president emeritus last week after serving 33 years as senate president, the longest such tenure of any state senate president in the history of the United States.
It’s been nearly 20 years since Maryland last updated how we fund our schools. In recent years, funding has become woefully inadequate and inequitable — and it shows:
· Half of educators are working second jobs to make ends meet.
· Every school in the state is annually underfunded by, on average, $2 million.
· Maryland spends 5% less on schools serving students in poverty.
The General Assembly can change that by revising Maryland’s school funding formula. And to demonstrate the broad-based support and ensure voices of educators and pro-public education allies are reflected in the final proposal, we must make our voices are heard.
Here’s what a new funding formula would mean:
• Dramatically increasing educator pay
• Hiring thousands more educators to increase individual attention for students and to expand teacher planning and collaboration time
• Expanding career technical education, community schools, and pre-k
• More equitably funding schools by delivering additional resources to schools with higher levels of poverty
• Providing more support and staffing for special education and mental health services
• Adding new accountability measures to ensure that the new funding reaches classrooms rather than central offices
Our kids can’t wait any longer for the funding and support that they deserve! Click here to email your legislators and urge them to pass a new funding formula that will be a game-changer for our students and schools.