Kirwan “Blueprint” Bill Amended, Moving in Senate

The vast “Blueprint” bill implementing initial steps toward the Kirwan Commission recommendations is moving in the Senate, after being amended significantly.

The Senate Committee on Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs has unanimously passed an amended version of the highly-anticipated “Blueprint for Maryland’s Future” legislation. The bill includes two years of funding provisions to support initial recommendations of the Kirwan Commission (Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education), and establishes policy guidance for the longer term vision.

The main changes in the amended bill include:

-A request that the ten-year implementation be adjusted by the Commission, to allow a more even phase-in of the substantial costs. The Commission’s interim report shows more than $3 billion in annual costs by its fourth year of ten, the legislation calls for the ten year phase-in to be more gradual to the eventual $3.8 billion annual price tag.

Stronger accountability measures, including an Education Inspector General with license to oversee local spending. The Governor had expressed his strong interest in accountability measures, and had introduced legislation containing similar provisions. Substantial FY 2020 funding is contingent on the Governor’s willingness to enact conforming budget amendments.

-A new oversight body to be co-created by the Maryland State Department of Education and the Maryland Higher Education Commission, to guide ongoing implementation of program goals.

-Clarifies the pledge to offer expanded access to pre-kindergarten for 3-year-old and 4-year-old children, through a mixed (public/private) delivery system

-Various funding changes to reflect the somewhat lowered funding levels already approved in the FY 2020 budget plan. The bill also lays out a spending mandate of $370 million for FY 2022, not present in the original bill.

The actions of the Senate Committee may represent a “leadership consensus” on the Kirwan plan for this year, and may foretell the direction for next year’s more financially substantive changes, expected to implement the broad formula and policy changes anticipated from the Commission.

The Senate Republic Caucus shared a letter with its views on the long term spending plan in advance of the Committee action.

 

Helpful Links:

Committee Reprint – the Committee amendments, following its final votes, as sent to the Senate floor

Senate Republican Caucus letter

Kirwan Commission ten year cost projections, from February 2019

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties
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