DLS 90 Day Report: Local Aid

The Department of Legislative Services (DLS) has released its annual summary of the legislative session, The 90 Day Report – A Review of the 2017 Legislative SessionThe report is divided into 12 parts, each dealing with a major policy area. It also includes information relating to the final operating and capital budgets, including aid to local governments – and a breakdown of aid to each county. 

County level detail of state aid is available here.

DLS lists “Direct Aid” to counties in two groups: Primary and Secondary Education, and all other aid programs. A full breakdown of all programs is available here: Total State Aid to Local Governments (Exhibit A-3.5)

This blog post directs readers to sections of the 90 Day Report which describe all other aid programs.

Libraries

This item includes the Library Formula and Library Network programs. The Report discusses funding for Local Libraries, including the Library Aid Program, for which the State funds 40 percent and counties fund 60 percent:

The State/local share of the minimum program varies by county depending on local wealth. The per resident amount is set at $15.00 for fiscal 2018 and is scheduled to increase to $16.70 annually, beginning in fiscal 2022. Fiscal 2018 funding totals $37.7 million, a $1.3 million increase compared to fiscal 2017. In addition, Baltimore City will receive $3.0 million to support expanded operations throughout the library system.

The State also provides funds through the Library Network program to libraries designated as resource centers and regional resource centers.

Community Colleges

This item includes the Community College Formula (Cade), Grants for English as a Second Language (ESOL) Programs, Optional Retirement, Small College Grants, and Other Community College Aid.

The Report discusses community colleges, which receive $235.2 million in fiscal 2018 through the Senator John A. Cade Formula, an increase of $779,600 over fiscal 2017 funding. In addition, the budget includes $4 million for one-time supplemental grants, to be divided among all 16 community colleges based on Cade funding formula-eligible enrollment. Also,

State funding in fiscal 2018 will total $4.1 million for the small college grants and $600,000 for the Allegany/Garrett counties unrestricted grants. Senate Bill 521 (passed) increases unrestricted grants to small colleges by approximately $1.7 million annually, beginning in fiscal 2019. Funding for statewide and regional programs will total $6.4 million. The English as a Second Language Program will receive $5.5 million, nearly level with the prior year.

Health Formula Grant

Local health departments receive $51.1 million, which level-funds the departments at fiscal 2017 levels, and provides an additional $1.6 million for increases in contractual health insurance costs in certain counties.

Transportation

Transportation aid listed in DLS’ county breakdowns includes highway user revenues to both the county and its municipalities, special transportation grants to both the county and its municipalities, elderly /disabled transportation grants, and paratransit grants.

In highway user revenues (HUR), $140.8 million (7.7% of HUR) is distributed to Baltimore City; $27.4 million (1.5%) is distributed to counties; and $7.3 million (0.4%) is distributed to municipalities, for a total of $175.5 million. The budget also provides special transportation grants to counties and municipalities of $38.4 million – $5.5 million for Baltimore City, $12.8 million for counties, and $20.1 million for municipalities. In addition, local governments receive $4.3 million in elderly /disabled transportation grants, and $1.7 million in paratransit grants.

Additional information on local transportation aid is available within the Report here.

Police and Public Safety

Police and public safety aid listed in DLS’ county breakdowns includes aid provided to municipalities, as well as the county.

The State fiscal 2018 budget level funds the police aid formula at the fiscal 2017 level of $73.7 million. In addition, State funding for targeted public safety grants will total $26.6 million in fiscal 2018. The Report details a handful of public safety grant programs available to local governments, including:

  • The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Fund, which funds grants for investigating Internet crimes against children ($2 million);
  • The Community Program Fund, which funds local government community and violence intervention programs ($500,000); and
  • The Vehicle Theft Prevention Fund, which enhances the prosecution and adjudication of vehicle theft crimes ($1.9 million).

This item may also include other grants, State’s Attorney’s Grants, and 9-1-1 Grants. 9-1-1 Emergency Systems Grants reimburse counties for improvements and enhancements to their 9-1-1 systems and are funded at $14.4 million.

Fire and Rescue Aid

Fire and rescue aid listed in DLS’ county breakdowns includes aid provided to municipalities, as well as the county. The Senator William H. Amoss Fire, Rescue, and Ambulance Fund, for local and volunteer fire, rescue, and ambulance services, is funded at $15 million.

Recreation and Natural Resources

According to the Report, the local share of Program Open Space (POS) funding changes in fiscal 2018:

Chapter 10 of 2016 altered the local share of POS funding beginning in fiscal 2018. The legislation allocated an additional $11.0 million to local funding for fiscal 2018. In future years, local funding through fiscal 2029 increases overall due to general fund appropriations to the transfer tax special fund (from which the local share of POS receives funding) representing reimbursement for prior transfers from the fund. In fiscal 2018, the POS formula allocates $37.2 million to the counties, which is an increase of $15.5 million over the fiscal 2017 amount. In addition, Baltimore City will receive $3.5 million in special POS funding.

The Report further details Program Open Space funding here.

Also, $7 million is included for the Department of the Environment to provide grants to local governments to provide enhanced nutrient removal at wastewater treatment facilities.

Disparity Grants

Disparity grants were level-funded by the Governor, then partially restored for some counties by the General Assembly. From the Report:

Disparity grants were initiated to address the differences in the abilities of counties to raise revenues from the local income tax, which is one of the larger revenue sources for counties. Counties with per capita local income tax revenues less than 75.0% of the statewide average receive grants, assuming that all counties impose a 2.54% local tax rate. Chapter 487 of 2009 capped each county’s funding under the program at the fiscal 2010 level. Chapter 425 further modified the program in order to provide a floor funding level in conjunction with the fiscal 2010 cap for an eligible county based on the income tax rate of that county. Beginning in fiscal 2014, an eligible county or Baltimore City may receive no more than the amount distributed in fiscal 2010 or a minimum of (1) 20.0% of the total grant if the local income tax rate is at least 2.8% but less than 3.0%; (2) 40.0% of the total grant if the rate is at least 3.0% but less than 3.2%; or (3) 60.0% of the total grant if the rate is set at 3.2%. The fiscal 2017 budget included $136.7 million in disparity grant funding; however, the Board of Public Works reduced total disparity grant funding to $132.8 million for fiscal 2017.

… Chapter 738 of 2016 altered the calculation of the Disparity Grant program for counties with a local income tax rate of 3.2% by increasing the minimum grant amount (funding floor) to 67.5% of the formula calculation in both fiscal 2018 and 2019. However, House Bill 152, modifies the formula by lowering the minimum grant amount (funding floor) from 67.5% to 63.75% of the formula calculation for fiscal 2018. Due to this action, funding for disparity grants will total $138.8 million in fiscal 2018.

Teachers Retirement Supplemental Grant

Grants totalling $27.7 million are distributed annually to nine counties to help offset the impact of sharing teachers’ retirement costs with the counties.

Gaming Impact Aid

From the proceeds generated by video lottery terminals at video lottery facilities in the State, generally 5.5% is distributed to local governments in which a video lottery facility is operating. … In addition, 5.0% of table game revenues are distributed to local jurisdictions where a video lottery facility is located. Gaming impact grants total $91.4 million in fiscal 2018, an increase of $24.6 million, or 36.9%, over fiscal 2017 levels, due to the opening of a casino in Prince George’s County in December 2016.

 

Other Direct Aid

Other direct aid may include aid from other programs such as those listed below, which are described in the Report:

Through the Maryland Forest Service and Maryland Park Service – Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) Program, counties receive 15 percent of the net revenues derived from their state forest or park land – in fiscal 2018, Forest Service payments to local governments total $282,900 and Park Service payments to local governments total $2.6 million.

The Senior Citizen Activities Center Operating Fund, a grant program through the Department of Aging for senior citizen activities centers, receives $764,000.

The Strategic Demolition Fund provides funding to assist with demolition, land assembly, housing development or redevelopment, and revitalization. Funding is awarded on a competitive basis to local governments and community development organizations. It receives $25.6 million, but $22.1 million is targeted for Baltimore City.

DLS 90 Day Report: Capital Budget

The Department of Legislative Services (DLS) has released its annual summary of the legislative session, The 90 Day Report – A Review of the 2017 Legislative SessionThe report is divided into 12 parts, each dealing with a major policy area. It also includes information relating to the final operating and capital budgets, including aid to local governments. 

Links to sections on the Capital Budget and relevant portions impacting local governments are provided below.

Capital Budget

From page A-63 on Revenue Bonds for the Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR) Program:

A significant feature of the fiscal 2018 capital budget is a change in the funding mechanism for the Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR) Program. In prior years, grants to local governments for upgrades of wastewater treatment plants to the BNR standard were funded with general obligation bonds. A provision in the BRFA of 2017 authorizes the use of up to $60 million of tax-supported revenue bonds from the Bay Restoration Fund (BRF) to fund BNR projects, while House Bill 384 (passed) permanently expands the allowable uses of the BRF to include BNR projects.

The fiscal 2018 capital budget bill de-authorizes $11 million of GO bonds authorized at the 2016 session for BNR projects and funds these projects and $49 million of new BNR projects from the revenue bond issuance.

The fiscal 2018 capital budget also includes $300 million of planned non-tax supported revenue bond issuances by MDE to further capitalize the Water Quality Revolving-Loan Fund and the Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund to fund loans to local governments for various water quality and drinking water infrastructure projects. MDE will issue the debt over the next several years as project funding proposals from local governments dictate.

From page A-68:

Community colleges receive $59.6 million in fiscal 2018 GO bonds, or 14.9% of higher education funding. This includes $2.0 million of recycled GO bond funds leftover from prior local community college projects. Community college funding is also matched by $54.3 million in local support in fiscal 2018.

Exhibit L-2, Fiscal 2018 Public School Construction Funding (by Local Education Agency)

From page A-70 on School Construction:

The fiscal 2018 capital budget includes $347.5 million in GO bonds for public school construction. … The General Assembly also added language to the school construction authorization that, for fiscal 2018, IAC shall allocate 100% of the funds available for public school construction projects, including available contingency funds. Under the language, the IAC allocations are not subject to BPW approval and are deemed approved pursuant to State law. IAC made recommendations for 75% of the preliminary school construction allocation for fiscal 2018 in December 2016, which were approved by BPW on January 25, 2017. By March 1, 2017, IAC made recommendations for the allocation of 90% of the school construction allocation in the capital budget (which included the initial 75% approved by BPW). Following enactment of the capital budget bill, IAC will make recommendations for 100% of the funding available for fiscal 2018 school construction projects, and pursuant to this language, the IAC recommendations will be the final allocations not subject to BPW approval.

An additional $62.5 million is funded through the Capital Grant Program for Local School Systems with Significant Enrollment Growth or Relocatable Classrooms established by Chapter 355 of 2015. … In the 2017 session the General Assembly increased the amount authorized for the program by $22.5 million for a total of $62.5 million. … While § 5-313 of the Education Article establishes a funding formula for the eligible counties, the additional $22.5 million is allocated outside of the statutory formula with specific allocations to the participating jurisdictions set forth in the MCCBL of 2017. Significant enrollment growth is defined as having full-time equivalent enrollment growth that exceeds 150% of the statewide average over the past five years, and significant relocatable classrooms means an average of at least 300 relocatable classrooms over the past five years. Currently, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard, Montgomery, and Prince George’s counties are eligible.

Click here for information on school construction funding in Part L, Education.

From page A-70 on Aging Schools and Qualified Zone Academy Bond (QZAB) Programs

The capital budget bill provides $6.1 million in GO bonds for the Aging Schools Program allocated as grants to county boards of education as specified in § 5-206 of the Education Article. …

Public school construction funding is further supplemented with $4.823 million of QZABs authorized in House Bill 153. QZABs may be used in schools located in federal Enterprise or Empowerment Zones, or in schools in which 35% of the student population qualifies for FRPM. QZAB funds are distributed to local school systems through competitive grants including grants to the Breakthrough Center and public charter schools.

Dallas Dance Resigns as Baltimore County Schools Superintendent

Baltimore County School Superintendent Dallas Dance announced his resignation Tuesday, effective June 30.

He gave no reason for the resignation, and a spokesman said he is not leaving for another job.

According to The Baltimore Sun,

In a statement announcing his resignation, Dance said he believes the school system “is in a better place today then when I first arrived. “To that end, I now transition to another chapter of my career where I will specifically use my passion for equity and access to a quality education to ensure it is provided to all students through school, district, and community leadership.”

Dance, 35, was in the middle of his second contract with the school system — a four-year pact paying him $287,000 a year — that the school board approved last year.

School board president Edward Gilliss said it is too late in the year to do a search for a permanent replacement who would have to take the job on July 1. By state law, all school superintendents in Maryland have four year contracts that must begin on July 1.

“I think we are going to have to look toward an interim [superintendent],” Gilliss said. Because most of the appointed board will be replaced in a 2018 election, Gilliss said, “We should think about how to plan in light of those realities.”

Gilliss said he believes the county “has been fortunate to have Dr. Dance at the helm…for the last five years. I am sad to see his tenure end.”

Gilliss said he did not give the board a reason for the resignation. “But I know the board will have the challenge of deciding how to replace Dr. Dance and to make certain BCPS moves forward,” Gillis said.

Dance continued to have the support of the majority of the board on most votes. However, in the past year, new appointees to the board have grown increasingly critical of his proposals.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz offered his own reflection, “In the last five years, we embarked upon a plan to build 16 new schools, 12 additions and multiple renovation projects,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. “We have increased our graduation rates. African-American and White students now graduate at the same rate in the Baltimore County Public Schools. And we have brought 21st century technologies to the classroom. We look forward to the next chapter of success for our school system.”

Read the full article for more information.

2017 End of Session Wrap-Up: Education

MACo advocates for school construction funding, and equity in K-12 and community college funding. The following segments describe MACo’s advocacy in this area in the 2017 General Assembly. 

Follow links for more coverage on Conduit Street and MACo’s Legislative Database

School Construction

Push Icons-WONMACo successfully supported passage of a bill that will allow the state to issue $4.8M in federal bonds for programs that fill an important niche in school construction. These programs cover small renovation and repair work in aging schools that do not always qualify for standard funding. Counties, who share funding responsibility for Maryland’s schools, appreciate additional support for their infrastructure goals. Senate Bill 197/House Bill 153 “Qualified Zone Academy Bonds,” passed and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. Bill InformationMACo Coverage

Income Tax Credit for Intern-Employers

Push Icons-NOT IDEALMACo supported a bill that allows businesses to receive a credit against the state income tax for employing interns enrolled in public and private nonprofit higher education institutions in the state. Counties appreciate that this bill offers a state-funded tax benefit, without a “spillover” residual effect on county revenues. Senate Bill 522/House Bill 1483 passed out of the Senate and is in the House Rules CommitteeBill InformationMACo Coverage

Grants Give Extra Cover for Pre-K and Declining Enrollments

Push Icons-WONMACo successfully supported passage of a bill that will provide $28.2 million in additional funding for K-12 public schools. The funding will be provided to: Allegany ($793,000), Calvert ($240,000), Carroll ($1.6 million), Cecil ($190,000), Garrett ($456,000), Harford ($356,000), Kent ($215,000), Queen Anne’s ($22,000), Somerset ($455,000), and Talbot ($133,000) Counties, and Baltimore City ($23.7 million). Senate Bill 1024/House Bill 684 passed, and the Governor signed it and has provided funding for it in a supplemental budget. Bill InformationMACo Coverage

Money for Meals All Summer Long

Push Icons-NOT IDEALMACo supported a bill that authorizes Summer Meals Program sponsors to apply for supplemental money from a competitive state-county matching grant fund to expand their ability to provide free and nutritious meals to children in need. Senate Bill 1161/House Bill 273 did not move out of committee in either house. Bill InformationMACo Coverage.

Counties Seek Greater Support for Community Colleges 

Push Icons-NOT IDEALMACo supported a bill to require both the county and the State to split the reimbursement of tuition assistance to ensure that the State is equally invested in the advancement of its students and workforce. Unfortunately, Senate Bill 678/House Bill 848 did not advance out of committees in either house. Bill InformationMACo Coverage

Push Icons-NOT IDEALMACo supported legislation that would have required the State to increase its funding so that by 2021 its aid to community colleges would reach 29% of the per-pupil general fund appropriation to students at 4-year public institutions of higher education. Senate Bill 152/House Bill 1069 did not move out of committee in either house. Bill InformationMACo Coverage

Push Icons-NOT IDEALMACo supported with amendments a bill would have established grants and scholarships for community colleges. In amendments, MACo asked that the legislation specifying how the grants would be funded. Senate Bill 869/House Bill 868 did not move out of committee in either house. Bill InformationMACo Coverage

School Funding Transparency

Push Icons-NOT IDEALMACo supported with amendments a bill that would have required a county government to establish an independent office to oversee the local school system if the system has received 10 or more repeat findings by the State Office of Legislative Audits. MACo asked that the legislation be amended to make it enabling, rather than mandatory, among other suggestions. House Bill 1341 did not pass out of committee. Bill InformationMACo Coverage

Click here for a round up of the wrap-ups for all policy areas

An End to the Era of Appointed School Boards

Legislation passed in the Maryland General Assembly’s 2017 Session will convert the County’s school board from appointed to elected. The county was one of the last fully appointed school boards in the State.

A bill that will convert Anne Arundel County’s School Board over to a fully elected school board passed the Maryland General Assembly on Sine Die, the final day of the legislative session.

Baltimore County, Baltimore City and Wicomico County have also recently altered their School Board selection process to include elected members. According to information from the Department of Legislative Services, the statewide landscape of school board selection processes has been shifting as jurisdictions with appointed boards move to elected membership, or partially elected membership. For more information, see this fiscal note and Anne Arundel, Wicomico School Board Selection Changes May Be Decided in November on Conduit Street.

CountyExecutiveSchuh_2_pyramid
County Executive Schuh supported passage of legislation to convert the Anne Arundel School Board to an elected, rather than appointed Board. Photo courtesy of Anne Arundel County.

As described in the Capital Gazette, the Anne Arundel School Board will now be entirely elected,

The bill they [the General Assembly] passed Monday creates an eight-person board made up of seven members elected by councilmanic district and one student member of the board. The measure prevailed over a competing proposal for a hybrid board, which suggested electing seven members, appointing three and preserving the student member’s seat.

The Capital quotes the County Executive sharing his support for the bill,

Schuh, a Republican, called the bill’s passage “an incredibly exciting and satisfying moment” that would result in more accountability of board members to Anne Arundel voters.

“Many of us have been pushing for an elected school board for a decade, and to see it now becoming a reality is wonderful news for Anne Arundel County,” he said. “Everything has its time, and the time was now — when everybody came together and saw the wisdom of it; that it’s a better way to govern our school system.”

For more information, see Anne Arundel elected school board bill passes the General Assembly from the Capital Gazette.

 

 

Baltimore City to Launch Mobile Job Center

Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh has announced a mobile jobs center that will begin visiting high unemployment neighborhoods in May. The Mayor hopes to expand the fleet of vehicles before the end of the year.

As reported by The Baltimore Sun:

Paid for by the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. and administered by the Enoch Pratt Free Library, the 38-foot recreational vehicle will travel to neighborhoods with the highest unemployment rates to help people, create resumes, connect to training programs and apply for work.

“We need to get people working in our city,” Pugh said Monday. “We need to get out into the communities and go where the unemployment is at its highest.”

Pugh said she expects to raise enough money to launch “one or two” more mobile jobs centers before the end of the year. Her goal is to have seven fan out across the city to combat Baltimore’s 6.6 percent unemployment rate. Officially, 19,500 people are out of work, but officials say the number is dramatically higher when discouraged workers who are no longer considered part of the workforce are included.

Each neighborhood stop is expected to last four hours. The vehicle will travel through the city four days a week and two Saturdays a month.

The mobile jobs center is believed to be the first in the Baltimore region. There are similar programs in Southern Maryland, and cities including Atlanta and Memphis, Tenn.

For more information read the full article in The Baltimore Sun

Allegany County School System Gets $793K Funding Boost

Allegany County Public Schools officials received good news recently when the Maryland legislature revised its educational funding formula, resulting in an increase of $793,472 for the local school system for the 2017-2018 school year.

According to The Cumberland Times-News,

The funding was discussed Tuesday at the regular meeting of the Allegany County Board of Education at the central office on Washington Street.

The school board had developed a $111.8 million budget for fiscal 2018. The state had been expected to contribute roughly $78.7 million for fiscal 2018 and the county approximately $30.2 million. The increase from the state will bring its total funding to $79.6 million.

The increase in state dollars is a result of considerations given by analysts studying the funding formula of Maryland’s school districts.

The state created the Kirwan Commission in the summer of 2016 to study the funding mechanisms for school districts. The commission is continuing its work and is expected to issue a final report later this year or in early 2018.

“(The increase) recognizes a flaw in the funding formula … that is being talked about … and hopefully will be ameliorated with the work of the Kirwan Commission,” said Cox.

Allegany County has a net loss of 102 students for fiscal 2018. With funding based largely on enrollment numbers, school systems that saw a decline in enrollment one year suffered with fewer funding dollars.

 …

Larry McKenzie, chief financial officer for the school system, said the state decided to look at enrollment over a three-year period instead of one year.

“They went back and looked at three years and took an average of that,” said McKenzie.

“To be honest, it was a surprise to me. The way the formula is, it worked out there were instances that, although we had overall declining enrollment, some of the areas within the formula we received increases … for instance, our special education population increased. So, within the formula itself, there were some changes.”

MACo successfully supported passage HB 684 / SB 1024 – Education – State Grants for Education Aid, legislation that will provide $28.2 million in additional funding for K-12 public schools in Allegany ($793,472), Calvert ($240,000), Carroll ($1.6 million), Cecil ($190,000), Garrett ($456,000), Harford ($356,000), Kent ($215,000), Queen Anne’s ($22,000), Somerset ($455,000), and Talbot ($133,000) Counties, and Baltimore City ($23.7 million).

Useful Links

Article from The Cumberland Times-News

MACo testimony on HB 684

Lawmakers OK Bills to Change Baltimore School Board, Give Free Rides to Students

Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh would have more authority over picking city school board members under legislation passed Saturday by the Maryland General Assembly.

Pugh made seeking that authority a top priority this year, saying it would help her more quickly make necessary changes to the city school system.

According to The Baltimore Sun,

The bill, granted final approval by the House of Delegates Saturday, would remove the governor from the process of selecting and removing members of the city school board.

The law now goes to Gov. Larry Hogan’s desk. He has not said whether he plans to sign it. If he did, it would end years of effort by city lawmakers to return full control of the school system to city officials for the first time in 20 years.

Also on Saturday, the General Assembly approved legislation to give free bus rides to qualified Baltimore students for three years beginning in July 2018.

Those students already receive some free bus rides from the Maryland Transit Administration, but the bill would expand the hours and relieve the school system of the $6 million annual cost of providing the rides.

The proposed law is a piece of a multi-part plan to give more money to the city school system, which faced a $130 million budget gap for the next school year before state and city officials kicked in money to help close the gap.

Read the full article for more information.

General Assembly Overrides Hogan Veto on Struggling Schools Bill

The Maryland General Assembly voted Thursday to override Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill that creates a formula for identifying and assisting struggling schools. The Senate voted 32-15 Thursday for the override. The House voted 90-50 for it earlier in the day.

According to WBAL,

Democratic lawmakers joined the ranks of those huddled at a press conference Thursday morning before casting their final votes to override the governor’s veto of the Protect Our Schools Act.

“We’re standing with Maryland students, parents, teachers and civil rights activists. So I’ll be proud to cast my vote for an override of his veto,” said Delegate Eric Luedtke, D-Montgomery County.

Supporters say the bill takes a creative approach to provide a big-picture view of how schools succeed and protects public schools from privatization.

“His narrow agenda of private school vouchers and for-profit charter schools is not supported by the vast majority of Maryland families who rely on public schools in their neighborhoods,” said Betty Weller, president of the Maryland State Education Association.

Hogan and other Republicans who oppose the bill say it’s too lax on academic performance standards and makes it difficult to fix struggling schools. The governor is also concerned that the Protect Our Schools Act will tie the hands of the state Board of Education, limiting their power in helping to improve failing schools.

The governor posted a response to the veto override on Facebook, saying:

“I’m sad for the kids they are trapping in failing schools, and concerned about losing our federal education funding. This will long be remembered as a low point in Maryland’s legislative history.”

The bill’s supporters accused the administration of taking a narrow view of how to turn schools around.

“We’re not interested in giving up our responsibility to provide a public education,” said Delegate Mary Washington, D-Baltimore City.

The governor did make good on his promise to continue funding to make vouchers available for students who want to attend non-public schools. The state’s PTA council is among those calling for unity.

“It’s not about politics. It’s about whether our children have access to strong, high-quality public schools,” said Elizabeth Leight, president of the Maryland PTA.

The measure is the Legislature’s response to the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. It allows states to decide how to use a mix of test scores, academic growth and other factors to identify failing schools.

Read the full article for more information.

Hogan Allows 15 Bills to Become Law, Avoids Veto Fights

Governor Larry Hogan avoided a confrontation with Democratic lawmakers on Thursday by allowing more than a dozen bills to become law without his signature.

According to The Baltimore Sun,

The Republican governor declined to comment on the bills he elected not to sign or veto. Several drew stiff opposition from Republican lawmakers as they passed through the General Assembly.

Some of the other measures set to become law will prevent the state from opening oyster sanctuaries to harvesting until a population study is done and repeal a requirement that the state mass transit system get a certain portion of its income from fares paid by riders.

Hogan also let two of the state’s budget bills become law without his signature — signaling his dissatisfaction that lawmakers refused to grant him relief from funding formulas and spending requirements that tie his hands in future budgets.

Meanwhile, Hogan’s sole veto so far — of a bill that would limit some school reforms — was swiftly overridden on party-line votes in the House of Delegates and state Senate on Thursday. The bill sets guidelines for how the state identifies low-performing schools and limits actions the Maryland State Board of Education can take to help those schools.

Lawmakers sent 27 bills to the Republican governor’s desk last week, early enough to require Hogan to sign or veto them while the legislature was still in Annapolis for their 90-day session, which ends Monday. That allowed Democrats the chance to override potential vetoes.

Hogan vetoed only the education bill, doing so during a visit to a Baltimore charter school on Wednesday. He signed 11 bills into law during a series of ceremonies over the past week.

The remaining 15 become law without his signature.

Read the full article for more information.