This post summarizes the status of education funding bills relevant to Maryland counties in the 2016 Regular Session.
State Places $19 million for Teacher Pension Increases in Budget, Subject to Governor’s Funding Discretion. HB 934 / SB 674 would have provided a method for addressing a shortfall in funding required to meet the portion of Maryland state teacher pension costs that exceed anticipated costs. According to current estimates, the actual normal costs of teacher pensions in fiscal year 2017 are approximately $30 million more than the amount that local school boards were required to provide in fiscal 2016 according to cost-shifting legislation passed by the General Assembly in 2012. MACo supported this legislation in order to avoid additional pressures on local school boards and county budgets. For more information, see MACo’s testimony. FINAL STATUS: While neither one of these bills were advanced, the General Assembly included $19 million in the budget for teacher pension cost increases in fiscal year 2017. This amount accounts for the portion of the increase that is due to variables outside the control of local school boards. The Governor must now approve the funding. For more information, see MACo Asks Governor To Fully Fund Lingering Budget Items.
Special Wealth-based Education Funding Decrease Avoided: HB 285, in its original form, would have altered the wealth component used to calculate the payment of state aid to public schools, redistributing state education aid. MACo opposed the bill, which would have not only provided an increase in funding for jurisdictions that use tax-increment financing, but would have also resulted in an unintended decrease in education funding for many jurisdictions. MACo also noted that many school funding formula components in the legislation would be premature ahead of a pending study. For more information, see MACo’s testimony. FINAL STATUS: HB 285 was amended to prevent any education funding decreases, and to sunset the bill after two years and require the subject to be considered by The Study of Adequacy of Funding for Education in the State of Maryland. The bill was passed by the General Assembly as amended and will be sent to the Governor for his signature.
County Concerns to be Considered by Statewide Education Commission. HB 999 / SB 905 establishes the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education to review the findings of the Study of Adequacy in Education Funding in Maryland and to make recommendations for changes to Maryland’s current state and local education funding. County governments had concerns that current education funding formulas discourage cooperation and collaboration between county governments and county school boards. To ensure that these concerns are addressed head-on by the Commission, MACo requested that the Commission make recommendations for “ensuring that State laws promote collaboration between county governments and local school systems.” For more information, see MACo testimony on HB 999 FINAL STATUS: Both bills were passed by the General Assembly and will be sent to the Governor for his signature.
Unintended County Pre-K Cost Increase Avoided. HB 1433 / SB 461 would have changed the state and local funding method for prekindergarten students. The bills had the unintended consequence, however. The new method would require altering the per-pupil counts that form the basis of county education funding without accounting for students who are already being served by the system. Suddenly introducing the new method would have created an apples-to-oranges enrollment mismatch in FY 2018, the first year of the proposed legislation’s effect. For more information, see MACo’s testimony. FINAL STATUS: Neither of these bills were moved out of their respective committees.
School Safety Funds Will Be Distributed Geographically. SB 83 – Public Safety – School Safety Enforcement Fund would expand the purposes of an existing fund for school bus safety to provide grant funding for any purpose that enhances school safety. The bill would also open the grant to applications from school boards and would lift the existing $35,000 cap on individual grant applications. Currently, local law enforcement agencies across Maryland receive this grant funding for school bus safety enforcement programs. Counties had concerns that expanding the fund’s purpose and applicant pool, while removing the cap for applications could result in an uneven distribution of funds amongst Maryland’s counties and supported the legislation with an amendment that would address those concerns. For more information, see MACo’s testimony. FINAL STATUS : This bill passed the General Assembly with the MACo amendment and will be sent to the Governor for his signature.