Billion-dollar Md. education reform faces another hurdle — the pandemic

Maryland’s ambitious $4 billion per year education bill that passed the General Assembly early this year has another hurdle to overcome: the coronavirus public health emergency.

As first reported by The Washington Post, Gov. Larry Hogan has until Thursday to decide whether to veto The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, known as Kirwan; and even if he does not, the law stipulates that the changes will not take effect if state tax revenue drops by 7% or more.

Hogan said last month, as he focused on tackling the spread of COVID-19, that he was “unlikely to sign any bills into law that would increase state spending,” Maryland Matters reported.

Hogan has voiced his concern several times in the past about the cost associated with the education package.

In April, Comptroller Peter Franchot said the coronavirus could cost the state $2.8 billion in lost revenue by the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

Maryland has already missed out on roughly $60 million in state revenue from the state’s casinos being closed last month when compared to how much the state generated last April, The Associated Press reported.

The state lottery said in a news release Tuesday that no revenue was made last month from the Maryland’s six casinos. The casinos closed March 16.

Revenues from the state’s casinos in April 2019 was $145.2 million; contributions to the state in that month were about $60.2 million, including $45.2 million set aside for the state’s Education Trust Fund, The Associated Press reported.

The Kirwan was named after William “Brit” Kirwan, the chancellor emeritus of the University System of Maryland. A commission named after him came up with the recommendations in the reform package, which included, among others, a boost in the starting salary of teachers and the expansion of pre-K programming.

Both the house of delegates and the state senate approved the bill in March, just as the public health emergency ramped up.

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Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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