State to Study School Construction Funding

Governor Martin O’Malley issued an executive order yesterday directing the Interagency Committee on School Construction to work with the Department of Budget and Management and the Department of Legislative Services and conduct a study on school construction in Maryland.  The study will address the topics raised by two bills that were introduced but did not pass in this year’s legislative session, Public School Construction – Creative Financing Study (HB1323/SB927), and Study of Alternative Financing Methods for the Purpose of School Construction (HB 349/SB 388).

MACo testified in support of HB349/SB927, which would have requested a study of lease payments in school construction.  MACo stated,

State and local funding [for school construction] has been restrained in part by the recent recession and a slow recovery. . . the escalation in building costs over the past ten years has hampered the State’s efforts to bring all public schools up to minimum standards and school construction needs continue to exceed the anticipated level of State funding. At the same time, student populations have grown by nearly 5% in Anne Arundel, Howard, and St. Mary’s Counties and by over 6% in Montgomery County.

The Governor’s Executive Order requests a study of creative financing methods that might help to address school construction needs.  According to the Governor’s Office, the Order directs the Interagency Committee on School Construction to make recommendations on:

  1. developing creative means, financing or otherwise, to increase funding for public school construction;
  2. creating more reliable revenue streams that could include leveraging funds by counties to meet public school construction needs;
  3. the use of lease payments or other alternative financing methods; and
  4. local funding for public school construction, county tax capacity, and county tax effort.

For more information, see the Governor’s Office press release, the executive order, and these previous posts on Conduit Street, 2014 Session Wrap-Up: School Construction, School Funding Bills Become School Funding Study Bills, Three Counties Work Together for School Construction Funding.