The FY 2030 Kirwan Funding – County Costs, In Context

With this week’s adoption of the funding plan details for the Blueprint for Maryland program, MACo breaks down the eventual county costs – and places them into a context with current law, in addition to current trends. We estimate the new mandated county costs at $1.9 billion in FY 2030 dollars.


A full-sized version of this table is available online as a pdf: Estimating FY2030 minimum funding requirement

Explaining the table above:

The first two vertical segments show the DLS calculation, as presented to the Formula Funding Work Group, leading to the $1.227 billion in new county cost estimate. That is done in two parts:

  • Our first segment shows the amount of new funding DLS is assuming each county would contribute to schools in FY 2030 – they built this from recent trends in county funding in recent years, and projected those efforts forward (meaning counties voluntarily going above mandated “maintenance of effort” levels recently are assumed to continue to do so as a baseline)
  • Our second segment shows the DLS-forecasted costs of the fully phased-in Kirwan plan, in FY 2030 dollars, as presented to the Work Group, and shows the required funding above current trends that represents. For counties where the Kirwan funding amount is less than their current funding trend, no added cost mandate is shown but no new spending relief is reflected nor envisioned. This is the now-familiar $1.227B.

The next two segments of this analysis show the same FY 2030 costs, but alongside a current best estimate of State-mandated funding, under current law – the “Maintenance of Effort” requirement to continue per-pupil funding each year at the same level as the year before, plus an “escalator” clause compelling some jurisdictions to make an additional funding increase connected to growth in wealth:

  • The third segment above illustrates the components of what the current law’s Maintenance of Effort law would do to county school spending by FY 2030 – based on interpolations from the most recent data available on enrollment and the escalator. (We used MDP’s 2017-2027 FTE growth, and the net annual effect of the full experience of the escalator this far to establish these growth components)
  • The fourth segment again puts the fully phased-in Kirwan costs alongside this alternative baseline forecast, and reaches a different result. Again, for counties (here only four) where the Kirwan funding amount is less than their current funding mandate, no added cost mandate is shown but no new spending relief is reflected nor envisioned. The Kirwan plan would mandate counties to spend an additional $1.89 Billion in FY 2030 above what current law mandates.

Since MACo’s publication of this article, DLS has shared that they are beginning a similar analysis, which may be developed and provided to the full Kirwan Commission. In the event they do so, likely with access to more direct and accurate resources, MACo will update and revise any estimates for county use.

At the 2019 MACo Summer Conference, a panel of state and local fiscal leaders discussed several factors pointing to turbulent times ahead for county government budgets. Now — with new economic data and a better understanding of the Kirwan Commission’s plan to fund its ambitious, multi-billion-dollar overhaul of Maryland’s education system — MACo’s Budget and Finance Affiliate will revisit these issues at the upcoming Winter Conference.

See details about that session and the dozens of workshops and other offerings at the MACo Winter Conference web page.

The 2019 MACo Winter Conference is December 4-6 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, Maryland. This year’s theme is “Building for the Future.”

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference:


Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties