The segments below provide a brief overview of MACo’s work in the area of education policy in the 2019 General Assembly.
Follow links for more coverage on Conduit Street and MACo’s Legislative Database.
Counties support education as the largest component of their budgets, with operating and capital support for schools typically representing a larger share of a county budget than all other function combined. Statutory formulas drive most state-level funding – meaning constant attention to the state-county balance inf funding responsibilities. Costly mandates on school functions can, effectively, land on county budgets unless state resources are provided. MACo typically advocates for fair and accountable school funding, and opposes unfunded new requirements.
Kirwan “Blueprint” Bill
MACo’s 2019 Legislative Priorities included continuing State funding support for education. MACo supported the implementation of the “blueprint” for the goals of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education. This spending plan, which will fund several priority areas, also incorporates a variety of accountability measures that have been supported by the Governor. Under this bill, if counties fund a teacher salary increase of 3% or the equivalent in FY 2020 and 2021, the state will award a wealth-equalized grant (totaling $75 million each year) to further enhance teacher pay.
The highly-watched legislation contains a variety of other provisions, implementing some initial phases of the “Kirwan” Commission. A more detailed, and fiscally specific, long-term plan is expected in 2020 legislation, after the Commission concludes its report.
The legislation has passed the House and Senate, and will be sent to the Governor for his signature. Certain funding elements of the bill depend on the Governor approving the funding (through budget amendments) as well.
Defending Local Autonomy in K-12 Education
MACo opposed legislation that mandates a prescriptive compensation model for noncertificated public school employees. This unfunded mandate would have placed a substantial administrative and cost burden onto local boards of education, as state resources are not provided to offset the large required costs. This legislation did not move out of committee following its public hearing.
MACo stood against legislation that will create a broad and unclear mandate on Boards of Education. While a well-intentioned attempt to increase accessibility for English language learners, the initial language could have resulted in a counterproductive reallocation of education resources. MACo and school boards raised concerns that the bill was too prescriptive, and amendments tempered those concerns substantially. The amended legislation passed through both the House and the Senate and will be sent to the Governor for his signature.
Advocating for Community Colleges
MACo opposed legislation that would establish a uniform statewide collective bargaining process for community college employees due to its one-size-fits-all approach, which would limit local decision-making. This legislation did not make it out of its House committee following the public hearing.
MACo supported legislation that would create a workforce readiness grant program on Maryland’s community college campuses. This grant program is flexible, allowing for needs of local employers and regional interests to be met. This legislation passed, with amendments offering the Governor funding flexibility, and will be sent to the Governor for his signature.