WASHINGTON — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Comptroller Peter Franchot lashed out Friday at critics of a new executive order preventing school systems from beginning their academic year before Labor Day. But one powerful lawmaker said the governor, through his executive order, is picking an unnecessary fight.
Maryland Senate President Mike Miller said Governor Larry Hogan didn’t have to do an end around the legislature to change the school calendar.
“The general assembly didn’t push back on it,” Miller said. “We could have gotten it passed if the governor had had his act together.”
A bill mandating the change stalled in Annapolis even after a state task force recommended the change. At an event Friday in Bethesda, Hogan ripped lawmakers and education leaders who were upset by his executive order, which has already been revised once to close loopholes in his original order.
“This is one of the most ridiculous things,” said Hogan. “There really is almost no controversy.”
He said “there’s a handful of vocal people” making a mistake.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s not controversial,” he said. “It’s nonsense.”
But Miller took umbrage with the governor’s tone, telling WTOP in a one-on-one interview Friday afternoon that the governor could have done things in a more inclusive way.
“The votes came up in front of the committee, and two of the governor’s votes weren’t there. Two Republicans. And [Comptroller Peter] Franchot’s henchman, [Senator Craig] Zucker wasn’t there either. So the three votes that we needed to pass the bill out of the committee weren’t there, two were the governor’s and one was Franchot’s.
“These guys are big BS’ers, I mean big BS’ers,” said Miller. “It’s very unfortunate.”
Hogan’s heavy-handedness in dealing with the issue was unnecessary, Miller said.
“You work with the educators, you work with the superintendents at schools, you work with the county councils, find out what’s worked for them, as well as the people of Ocean City, and both sides declare victory,” he said. “No heavy-handedness.”
“In fact, the governor’s Republican Board of Education said no, they don’t like it because they like the discretion, and he found that they were going to go off the tracks and go the other way, so guess what? He came out with a second thing that said no, you don’t give anybody waivers, this is my way or the highway,” Miller said. “So unfortunately, that’s kind of the way things are.”
A spokesman for Governor Hogan, Doug Mayer, responded Friday afternoon.
“Gov. Hogan serves the people of Maryland and, in the end, has very little concern or patience with the grumblings of grouchy bureaucrats and out-of-touch politicians who refuse to do what’s best for students and families,” Mayer told WTOP.
Despite all the hard feelings, Miller conceded that at this point, there are no plans for the legislature to overturn the governor’s order.
“In order to have it changed, you need to have a body of public opinion behind it,” Miller said. “More than 70 percent of the people prefer it. The educators are saying it makes our jobs more difficult, but when we have more than 70 percent of the people [who] want something, a law’s going to stand.
“Unless somebody files suit and says what the governor did is unconstitutional, I don’t anticipate any change.”
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