By Mallory Panuska
(April 8, 2021) As revisions to the state’s Kirwan education funding plan await approval on Gov. Larry Hogan’s desk, local lawmakers are still bucking its overall passage because of concerns about fiscal impacts.
The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, or Kirwan plan, is a broad education reform bill set to increase state and county annual education spending by roughly $3.2 billion per year over 10 years. It passed through both chambers last year but Hogan vetoed it because of its potential cost. However, lawmakers came back and overrode his veto, setting the stage for discussion and vote on revisions this session.
The revisions that passed in the Senate Tuesday pertain to things like enrollment data and technology funding.
Sen. Mary Beth Carozza (R-38) also offered an amendment that would tie funding for summer school programs and teacher incentives to in-person learning. And while the amendment passed, she voted against the bill as a whole because of her long-standing opposition.
“I am voting against the Kirwan revision bill for the same reasons I voted against the overall Kirwan bill last year,” she said in a news release. “It’s based on my continued concerns for my local area on affordability, prioritization for fair funding formulas, and the need for local flexibility and tracking of outcomes. As we move forward, I am committed to working with my colleagues and all stakeholders to address the budgetary and accountability mandates that Kirwan imposes on our local jurisdictions.”
Del. Wayne Hartman (R-38 C) expressed similar concerns about the bill and the revisions. He said the revisions essentially add another year to the already pricey bill that he said does not benefit this area. And since he did not support the legislation anyway, he still stands in overall opposition.
“I didn’t support Kirwan initially … It’s a whole lot of mandated spending with no guarantee of any outcome,” he said. “There are components of it I like that I think we could have implemented slowly over time but what works in one part of the state doesn’t necessarily work in all parts.”
On Friday, Gov. Larry Hogan issued a news release via email against the bill and said the revisions would take effect without a signature. He said the new bill corrected some of the problems he had with the original legislation, but “completely fails to address” the financial issues.
“I believe that we can still accomplish this shared goal in a fiscally responsible and sustainable manner,” the statement said. “The General Assembly will need to once again rewrite the original legislation to address these critical fiscal flaws in the 2022 legislative session.”