House Alcohol Tax Proposal Includes Support for School Construction

Following a day of protracted debate (with a week or so of buildup), the House of Delegates is currently debating (as of Saturday evening) HB 1213, legislation to impose a new sales tax rate of 9% on alcoholic beverages. The multiple repercussions of the tax rate increase are somewhat complex, but one item included in the House Ways and Means Committee amendments would direct funds for the FY 2012 budget to public school construction projects. From the text of the amendment, here is the intended distribution of these funds:

SECTION 3. AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That:

(a) Notwithstanding §§ 5-301 and 5-302 of the Education Article or any other provision of law, the funds appropriated in Section 2 of this Act shall be allocated to the following counties or regions as provided below. The Board of Public Works shall approve the individual projects, which may or may not be eligible for funding under the Public School Construction Program provided that the proposed project is a public school improvement that meets a school or community need:

Anne Arundel County…………. $5,000,000
Baltimore City …………………$9,000,000
Baltimore County………………$7,000,000
Eastern Shore (Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, Talbot,
Wicomico, and Worcester Counties)……………$1,250,000
Howard County…………………$4,000,000
Montgomery County…………….$9,000,000
Northeast Maryland (Cecil and Harford Counties)…………$1,250,000
Prince George’s County…………$9,000,000
Southern Maryland (Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s Counties)…………..$1,250,000
Western Maryland (Allegany, Carroll, Garrett, Frederick, and Washington Counties)……..$ 750,000

(b) In approving funding for projects, the Board of Public Works shall consider:

(1) requests from the local jurisdictions; and

(2) projects that:

(i) benefit older school buildings;
(ii) benefit schools with high proportions of children eligible for free and reduced price meals;
(iii) can be completed within one year;
(iv) eliminate or reduce the use of relocatable classrooms;
(v) are designated as A or B by the Interagency Committee on Public School Construction and are not fully funded in the fiscal 2012 Capital Improvement Program approved by the Board of Public Works; or
(vi) reduce energy consumption or incorporate high performance “green” building principles.”

The House and Senate will need to take final action on this proposal and the other related items by Monday for these provisions to take effect on July 1.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties

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