Counties Provide Perspectives on Kirwan Revisions

On March 15th, 2021 MACo submitted a letter of information to the House Ways and Means Committee regarding HB 1372 Blueprint for Maryland’s Future – Revisions. This bill updates the “Blueprint for Maryland’s Future” legislation, HB 1300 of 2020.  Overall, counties believe the bill makes appropriate adjustments to ensure a reasonable implementation of the multi-year school plan, and addresses technical matters arising from both its delay in implementation and the immediate effects of enrollment count variability.

From the MACo Letter of Information:

Delaying FY 2022 Effects – The bill’s approach to effectively delay both funding and programmatic effects is sensible. Because of the timing of the bill’s enactment, these mainly technical changes ensure a sensible and coordinated launch of the bill’s visions, with time to plan and budget for them at every level.

Remedying FY 2023 Enrollment Effects – The bill proposes a one-time adjustment to county funding requirements, recognizing the aberration arising from unusual September 2020 enrollment counts across many jurisdictions. This provision represents the needed third component (along with the “hold harmless” funding in the Governor’s proposed budget, and a comparable county-level requirement in the proposed BRFA) to smoothly navigate these funding effects. With this section of HB 1372 in place, county compliance with the FY 2022 “hold harmless” is very likely, which is an outcome sought by all stakeholders.

Highlighting Federal, Unspent Funds in School Budgets – School budgets are at their most opaque. The causes are fully understandable, with 2020-21’s unique overlay of multiple rounds of federal support, mid-year shift of service delivery models, and an array of safety and precautionary spending amidst the pandemic. State policy direction on the reporting of fund uses, detailing of unspent balances, and the plans for future use of any such balances, is a matter of even greater interest than usual. Elaboration in HB 1372, budget/BRFA language, or other efforts could prove most appropriate to promote this public insight.

Additionally, MACo submitted a comparable letter of information to the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee along with the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee regarding the Senate crossfile, SB 965 Blueprint for Maryland’s Future – Revisions.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2021 legislative session on MACo’s Legislative Tracking Database.