The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee heard testimony on HB 1 – Built to Learn Act of 2020 on February 19, 2020 after it passed the House of Delegates.
MACo Executive Director Michael Sanderson testified in support with amendments to the school construction legislation. The bill leverages casino revenues for revenue bonds, providing a short-term infusion of over $2 billion to school construction projects.
His testimony followed a panel of county elected officials, who described their local construction backlog, making the “demand” case for the legislation directing new funding toward school projects.
Although MACo supports the central concepts in HB 1, counties have strong technical concerns with certain language. Specific concerns MACo brought up in testimony included: unintentional disadvantage to some counties due to funding match requirements, vague and undefined facility assessment criteria, and the state’s authority to usurp local decision-making in project prioritization.
From MACo Testimony:
The Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) SUPPORTS HB 1’s strong commitment to school construction funding WITH AMENDMENTS to provide some flexibility to county governments for their participation in this new program. MACo appreciates the State’s responsibility to develop funding strategies to provide high quality schools and education in Maryland.
This legislation responds to many of the recommendations Maryland counties have made for the State program over the past several years: it provides a robust state funding commitment to school construction, technical support for smaller counties, and the potential for a more equitable split of school construction costs between the State and the counties. . .
Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2020 legislative session on MACo’s Legislative Tracking Database.