Top Issues of 2021 Session: Blueprint for Maryland’s Future

With the 2021 Legislative Session rapidly approaching, MACo is profiling some major issues that stand to gather attention in the General Assembly’s work. Here, we preview the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future and what happens if the Governor’s veto is overridden.

After more than three years of study and consideration, the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education adopted its final recommendations in late 2019, establishing the base policy and funding formulas that passed the General Assembly in the form of House Bill 1300 in the abbreviated 2020 legislative session.

The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future contains education policy recommendations in the policy areas of (1) early childhood education; (2) high-quality and diverse teachers and leaders; (3) college and career readiness pathways; (4) resources to ensure all students are successful; and (5) governance and accountability. The legislation also includes numerous provisions relating to education funding and funding formulas.

Despite MACo’s call for the State to provide the resources for the ambitious school funding plan – citing the most equitable state funding systems, where the State is the lead player in funding – the a multi-year plan obliges some $4 billion in annual state and county spending above current formulas and projections by its eventual phase-in in FY 2030.

Governor Larry Hogan, citing the wave of economic uncertainty brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, vetoed the Kirwan Blueprint bill earlier this year, as well as a handful of bills that would have raised revenue to pay for its ambitious policy goals.

The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Fund — which is dedicated to implementing the recommendations from the Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education — has a dedicated funding source from a portion of online sales tax revenue, and will have enough money to fund the Kirwan Blueprint bill through at least 2026, according to analysis from the Department of Legislative Services.

The impact of the Governor’s veto is explained by the Department of Legislative Services in its annual compilation of Issue Papers:

House Bill 1300 included new funding formulas beginning in fiscal 2022 that incorporated Chapter 771 spending in fiscal 2020 and 2021. As a result of the veto, fiscal 2022 provisions under the bill are not required to be funded by the Governor. Thus, for fiscal 2022, under current law, no funding is assumed for declining enrollment grants, supplemental prekindergarten grants, or new programs established by Chapter 771. However, it is assumed that the required $500 million appropriation to the Blueprint Fund is spent on P12 education in fiscal 2022. Even if the General Assembly overrides the veto of House Bill 1300 during the 2021 session, funding will not be mandated under the bill until fiscal 2023.

Under current law, with the veto of House Bill 1300, revenues dedicated to implementing the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future in the Blueprint Fund and the Education Trust Fund Lockbox accumulate and grow from $952 million at the end of fiscal 2022 to $4.8 billion by the end of fiscal 2026. If the veto is overridden, as well as the veto of House Bill 932 (sales tax on digital  goods dedicated to Blueprint Fund), sufficient dedicated funds will be available to implement House Bill 1300 in fiscal 2023 through 2025 based on current revenue estimates. Beginning in fiscal 2026, additional general funds will be needed to fully fund the bill.

While the governor vetoed the bill, lawmakers face tremendous pressure to move forward with the plan, and a vote on whether to override the veto will be among the first orders of business when the General Assembly convenes next month.

More background may be found in previous Conduit Street coverage, and in the DLS Issue Paper:

Governor Vetoes Kirwan, Tax, Fiscal Bills in Silent Session Cap-off 

Kirwan Blueprint Bill Heads to Governor, With a “Trigger” Provision

MACo on Kirwan Blueprint: Rely on State Funding

Senate’s Kirwan Blueprint Bill: What’s In It For Counties?

Breaking Down The Kirwan Blueprint Bill

DLS Issue Papers: Blueprint for Maryland’s Future

Helpful 2021 Session Links:

Maryland General Assembly website | 2021 Dates of Interest | Issue Papers
Re-opening procedures: Senate | House of Delegates | House Committees
Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts on MACo’s Legislative Tracking Database
MACo’s 2021 Priorities  |  MACo’s 2020 Wrap-Up