The Prince George’s County Council voted today on its FY 2016 budget. As reported in the Washington Post earlier this week, County Executive Rushern Baker sought $65 million in additional school funding through a proposed tax increase of 7%, in lieu of his earlier proposal to raise $133 million in additional school funding through a proposed tax increase of 15%.
The Council’s budget for FY 2016 rejected the County Executive’s proposed property tax increases and adopted instead a 4% increase in real and personal property taxes and 1% increase in telecommunications taxes to support $34 million of additional education funding to cover the state teacher pensions mandate for FY 2016. The Council also adopted a required audit of the school system’s budget. In speaking about the county’s education budget, Council President Franklin noted the Governor’s failure to provide geographic cost of education funding for Prince George’s County.
The Prince George’s County budget debate has received national attention. US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has stated,
Just outside D.C., in Prince George’s County, Maryland, the education budget trails far behind those in neighboring districts like Montgomery County, or Virginia’s Fairfax County. But in Prince George’s, advocates are considering bold steps to close some troubling funding gaps, target more resources for struggling schools, and boost academic achievement.
Faced with limited state funding and longstanding local shortfalls, the county executive and the local school board have proposed a significant budget increase to better meet the needs of the district’s students. They also plan to address a-decades-old property tax cap that has squeezed tax-based contributions to their schools.
The approach is backed by community leaders and stakeholders who want to see their county flourish as neighboring counties have under new education efforts that support all students. Additional dollars could help increase per-pupil spending, raise teacher salaries which lag behind those in nearby counties, and expand full-day pre-k programs.
According to the Washington Post, the proposed new tax rate must be the subject of a public hearing and another council vote before the start of the new fiscal year on July 1.
For more information, read more from the Washington Post here, and see our previous post, Prince George’s County Executive Scales Back Education Funding Plan.