After hours of deliberation, the House of Delegates adopted its FY 2013 budget plan, which includes a shift of teacher pension costs to the counties, an increase in revenues, and greater requirements for education funding (Maintenance of Effort). Following tradition, a number of amendments were offered throughout the discussion, but none passed. As reported by MarylandReporter.com:
Minority Leader Anthony O’Donnell proposed a budget amendment that would enact a level funded budget, which was defeated 47-90. The Calvert County Republican pleaded with his colleagues to live on the same funds they did last year just as many families they represent do, rather than approve a budget with $1 billion in additional spending.
Many amendments were also offered to eliminate or modify the teacher pension shift to counties. These attempts also failed.
Del. John Bohanan, D-St. Mary’s, pointed out that when the Thornton formula for education funding first passed, 47% of the state’s money was spent on state government and 33% went to local governments. Now, he said, as pension costs have grown, the two funding categories are equal — both state government and local government taking 40% of the total state budget.
“Local government grants are getting ready to surpass,” Bohanan said. “If we continue to let it do that, it will eclipse what we spend on state government.”
The floor leader for the debate, Del. Melony Griffith, D-Prince George’s, said that the shift should be looked at as an opportunity for the state and local governments to share pension costs for mutual benefits.
Amendments to the Maintenance of Effort bill included language to address recurring costs, modify the “assurance” provision, provide an appeal for the waiver process, modify the rebasing waiver, among others. These amendment attempts failed as well.
Additional press coverage of the discussions can be found below.