Governor O’Malley Pledges $1 Billion in School Construction Funding

Governor Martin O’Malley has pledged to provide $1 billion in school construction funding.  From a July 7 Baltimore Sun article:

Gov. Martin O’Malley pledged Wednesday to spend an additional $1 billion in state money for school construction if re-elected, repeating a campaign promise he made and kept four years ago. …

The plan would honor recommendations made by a task force that state Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp convened in 2004, which said $250 million per year should be dedicated to new buildings.

The Task Force to Study Public School Facilities was convened  2002 and was chaired by State Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp.  Among the duties of the Task Force was the evaluation and review of the State’s school construction program.  The Task Force issued an interim report in 2002 and a final report in 2004.

In its final report, the Task Force found that there was a crisis in school construction and the cost of bringing existing schools up to minimum standards was $3.85 billion in 2003 dollars.  The Task Force recommended making school construction a priority and set a State school construction spending goal of $250 million a year through FY 2013.

MACo supported the findings of the Task Force and maintaining a high level of school construction funding has been a MACo legislative initiative for every year since 2005.  For every dollar the State spends on school construction, counties contribute roughly two dollars of local funding.  While funding requests are down from a peak of $894 million in FY 2008, school construction needs remain high, with $722 million in requests for FY 2011.

Reaction from Governor O’Malley’s challenger, former Governor Bob Ehrlich from a July 8 Washington Post article:

After the event, Ehrlich spokesman Andy Barth knocked the Democratic incumbent for “once more promising to spend money he doesn’t have and would have to borrow.” Barth declined to say how much Ehrlich would spend on school construction if elected.

A further comment from a WBAL 11 report and video:

A representative for Republican challenger Bob Ehrlich said the former governor spent almost twice as much as O’Malley on state support to public schools.

Fox 45 Video

WAMU 88.5 Radio Report (Audio links: RealPlayer Windows Media )

FY 2011 List of School Construction Projects Approved for State Funding (by the Interagency Committee on School Construction)

Thanks to Maryland for some of the news links.

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