During a House Ways and Means briefing, a leadership Delegate asked, and mused, about the potential to grant local Boards of Education independent taxing authority.
January 20 was “Local Government Day” in the House Ways and Means Committee – featuring a technical but informative set of presentations by legislative staff, MACo, and the Maryland Municipal League. See Conduit Street coverage of the MACo briefing.
As MACo’s presentation on county priorities wrapped, Committee members asked various questions. Arguably the most intriguing, prefaced by claiming it would be “a hard question for you,” came from Delegate Eric Luedtke – the House Majority Leader, Ways and Means Taxation Subcommittee Chair, former member of the Kirwan Commission, and former teacher. He asked:
We’ve been hearing a lot of concern from the counties, as you might suspect, on the proposals in the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future… and how to ensure that counties are treated as partners… and the general gist I’ve heard overall is that counties are feeling fiscally constrained, that they’ve got a lot of different demands on their county budgets… public safety, schools, community colleges, et cetera. Given that, and that pressure is not likely to ease anytime soon…
Why not consider putting Maryland in the same stance as the majority of states, and I think 90 per cent of school districts in the country, where you have fiscally independent school districts that can raise their own revenue?
MACo Associate Director Kevin Kinnally responded, saying that MACo had not taken up such a proposal, so did not have a “position” per se on the notion.
The full committee briefing is available to watch on video, streaming from the General Assembly’s website. Delegate Luedtke’s question arises around the 1:25 moment in the video stream.