Hogan on Kirwan Blueprint: Okay on 2019 Bill, Yes to Funding It, and We’ll See About The Long Term

Governor Hogan says he will fund the education “blueprint” bill’s programs for the upcoming year, but expresses concerns about long term plan’s affordability.

lhogan2final-279x300Settling increasing anxiety among many stakeholders, Governor Hogan today announced his intentions regarding the first stage of school funding reforms, passed in SB 1030 this session. The essence of his views:

The bill’s FY 2020 funding was left to the Governor’s discretion whether to approve – he will do so. The General Assembly created a variety of funds “available” for spending on education programs, including the teacher salary incentive, but is not able under Maryland law to add the funds to the budget themselves. The Governor indicates he will submit budget amendments to provide the first year funding as envisioned.

The bill will go into law, but without his signature. The possibility of a veto loomed as conceivable, inspiring fear among some supportive legislators, and the specter of an emergency legislative session for a veto override. The Governor announced today his intention to let the bill take effect without his signature, a symbolic gesture to express his larger concerns over the funding plan’s longer term effects.

The Governor remains concerned about the remaining commitments of nearly $4 billion per year envisioned in the longer term plan. The stage is now even more clearly set for a debate about the state (and county) long term commitment to education funds, as the Kirwan Commission is expected to work on formulas and distribution issues, to prepare for legislative approval in the 2020 session. Governor Hogan has raised concerns about the connection between heightened spending and improved outcomes, and remains concerned about accountability measures in the legislation, which he judges to (so far) be inadequate.

The Governor also delivered a letter to legislative leaders, outlining his broader concerns with the proposals being contemplated:

Kirwan Quote

Governor Hogan’s full press release on the Kirwan funding is included below, and available online.

Governor Hogan Announces $255 Million in Additional Education Funding

Continues All-Time Record Investment in K-12 Education; Challenges Legislators to Present Fiscal Plan for Kirwan Blueprint, Boost Accountability Measures

ANNAPOLIS, MD—Governor Larry Hogan today released $255 million in additional education funding for fiscal year 2020, continuing his commitment of record investment in K-12 education. Since taking office, Governor Hogan has invested more than $32 billion in K-12 education.

Additionally, in a letter to General Assembly leaders, the governor announced he is allowing Senate Bill 1030 – The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future to take effect without his signature, citing concerns about lack of fiscal planning and inadequate accountability measures.

“Education has been—and continues to be—my top priority,” said Governor Hogan in the letter. “However, I have significant reservations about your short-sighted methods for implementing the Kirwan Commission’s final recommendations—namely that they will lead to massive increases in expenditures without providing the fiscal safeguards and much-needed accountability our students, parents, teachers, and taxpayers deserve.”

Fiscal Responsibility. During the 2019 legislative session, Governor Hogan backed many of the measures in the bill but reasonably urged that any additional spending to implement the recommendations of the Kirwan Commission be accompanied by robust fiscal safeguards. Calling the legislation “a blueprint without a design,” the governor expresses concern that “there is no plan—none—for how the State will fulfill its financial obligation based on the anticipated nearly $4 billion price tag.”

The latest Maryland Department of Budget and Management analysis indicates that full implementation of all Kirwan Commission recommendations would force the State to face a fiscal shortfall of approximately $18.7 billion. As a result, the Department estimates Maryland households would each be forced to pay an additional $6,200 more in taxes over the next five years.

Accountability. Additionally, after the Hogan administration introduced Accountability in Education measures two years in a row, the General Assembly included the governor’s Education Inspector General proposal in the presented bill. However, the measures proposed still fall short, with no structural mechanisms to fix perpetually failing schools.

“While it is encouraging that the legislature agreed to my proposal for an Inspector General to root out corruption and mismanagement, the bill still falls short of the accountability we need,” wrote the governor.

In the letter, the governor points to the state’s failure to make good on the work of the Thornton Commission, noting that more funding alone has not always added up to better outcomes for students and families.

“We simply cannot repeat the same mistakes that have failed Maryland students, their parents, teachers, and the taxpayers of our state for decades,” he concluded. “In the coming months, I look forward to working with you to develop a fiscally responsible proposal that both increases accountability and improves performance outcomes.”


Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties