Niche Program Helps Counties Repair Aging Schools

MACo Research Director, Robin Clark Eilenberg, testified in support of SB 379, Creation of a State Debt – Qualified Zone Academy Bonds, to the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee on February 24, 2016.

This bill would authorize the Board of Public Works to issue $4,680,000 in Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZABs) by December 31, 2016, and grant the money to the Interagency Committee on School Construction (IAC) and the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE).

From the MACo testimony,

The money would be used for certain development or improvement purposes including the renovation, repair, and capital improvements of qualified schools in accordance with criteria established under the Aging Schools Program. The IAC would award the money through competitively-awarded grants and MSDE would provide targeted grants to eligible schools under the Breakthrough Center Program.

MACo has supported and will continue to support additional funding for our schools, including the QZAB, and the Aging Schools and Breakthrough Center Programs. These programs fill an important niche by covering projects that would not normally qualify as true capital projects eligible for general obligation bond (GO) funding.

The counties, who share responsibility with the State for Maryland’s schools, appreciate financial support for their infrastructure goals. Accordingly, MACo recommends the Committee issue a FAVORABLE report on SB 379.

An identical cross-filed bill, HB 463, had a first reading on January 29 in the House.

For more on 2016 MACo legislation, visit the Legislative Database.