Governor’s “Private School Grants” Supplement Stirring Opposition

Governor Hogan has inserted a grant into the State Budget for a private school grant program. The funding has been seen by some a work-around that would achieve the aims of a piece of stalled legislation supported by the Administration, The Maryland Education Credit, as reported by The Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE) and others.

The “Student Assistance Organization Business Entity Grant” is similar to Hogan’s HB 487, which has been stuck in the Ways and Means committee since early February, as described by the Maryland Reporter.

An action alert from the Maryland Association of Boards of Education describes,

MABE opposes the Governor’s $5 million voucher initiative to create a new state program, within the Department of Business and Economic Development, to fund expenses such as tuition, supplies, and uniforms, for private and parochial school students. MABE opposes diverting $5 million in state funding, and expending the energies and expertise of state agencies and state employees, to run this new program. This type of state program to financing private and parochial schools has been proposed in legislation many times, but never enacted by the General Assembly.

The Maryland State Education Association, the State’s largest professional union, also opposes the program, stating on their website.

The BOAST (Building Opportunities for All Students and Teachers) tuition tax credit bill (also known as the Maryland Education Tax Credit) is a voucher scheme that would shift public, taxpayer dollars into private schools. . . Gov. Hogan’s proposal would give tax credits to corporations for contributions made to private schools. The credits would amount to 60% of the contribution and up to $200,000 a year. The end result: General Fund revenues would be reduced, while millions of taxpayer dollars are diverted to private schools to subsidize the cost of education for a few students.

Legislators have also expressed concern with the Governor’s approach.  As quoted in the Maryland Reporter,
“He attempts to make a very complicated 10-page bill into a five sentence provision in the supplemental budget. To me, it’s policymaking through the budget, which we try to avoid,” said Del. Brooke Lierman, D-Baltimore City, after the House Appropriations committee received a briefing.
According to The Maryland Association of Boards of Education, the Governor could withhold nearly $70 million in education funding in his budget, making it contingent on this new private school voucher program.
For more information about HB 487 see the bill’s information page here, the full article from the Maryland Reporter here, MSEA’s analysis here and MABE’s analysis here.