Counties Support Building Opportunities Act, Recommend Clarifications

MACo Policy Associate Drew Jabin testified on February 19, 2020 to support with amendments SB 276 – Building Opportunity Act of 2020. This bill is one of those introduced this session to address school construction funding by establishing the Building Opportunity Financing Fund and the Building Opportunity Facilities Fund.

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 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.

While MACo supports this legislation on the whole, there are concerns that the quick ramp-up of funding — almost doubling the State’s commitment for five years — could unintentionally disadvantage small and mid-size counties, who may be unable to readily gather the local funding match required to participate.

From MACo Testimony:

Allowing the State to Forward-Fund the Local Share for Two Years Could Help More Counties Participate in this Program

. . . Counties request that this legislation clarify that memorandum of understanding with the Authority may allow the State to forward-fund the local share of a school construction project for up to two years. This allowance would parallel the inverse and relatively common practice, whereby county governments forward-fund the State share of projects when State funding is unavailable, and ensure greater accessibility to the program for all counties.

MACo also submitted testimony the same day for another similar yet more detailed school construction bill – HB 1 – Built to Learn Act of 2020.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2020 legislative session on MACo’s Legislative Tracking Database.