Legislators Pledge Focus to Kirwan Goals, Despite Hogan’s Wariness

Following Governor Hogan’s comments at the MACo Summer Conference, several legislative leaders restated their commitment to a new school funding plan.

When Governor Hogan spoke at the closing session of MACo’s Summer Conference, he raised his concerns with the costs of the pending recommendations from the Kirwan Commission on school funding. Citing the potential for major tax increases driven by these costs, the Governor said he would not support any such sweeping tax increases.

Unsurprisingly, many supporters of the effort have pushed back, framing the issue as of paramount importance, and rejecting the affordability concerns he has raised:

The Baltimore Sun ran an article including comments from multiple players – Dr. Kirwan himself, legislators, and county officials, with varying views on the plan and its potential costs. From the Sun article:

Democratic leaders said that’s not what they’re proposing. Routine growth in the state budget, through increasing population, higher salaries and housing prices, will add billions to the state’s budget for education over 10 years without additional taxes.

Nevertheless, the programs proposed by Kirwan cost about 30% more than projected growth can cover.

“It’s clearly fear-mongering,” said Del. Eric Luedtke, a Montgomery County Democrat who is chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, of Hogan’s warnings of large tax increases. “We’re one of the richest states in the country and we can afford to do right by our kids. And it isn’t going to require a $6,000 tax per person.”

The Sun article itself spawned social media commentary, including from a Commission member and key legislator, House Appropriations Chair Maggie McIntosh:

The Daily Record has also run an item on legislators’ response to the Governor’s tone and comments, available online to subscribers only. This comes on the heels of another Daily Record item (also for subscribers only) written during the conference, drawing deeply from the “Changing Face of Education” session featured as part of the county leaders’ conference.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties