ANNAPOLIS — The following is a roundup of bills heard Wednesday in the state legislature.
Legislators Move to Recoup Supplemental Schools Funding for Some Districts
The simple change of the word “may” to “shall” could bring about $68 million back to public K-12 schools.
A state formula that provides additional spending to some jurisdictions where the cost of education is more expensive stops short of stipulation in state law. It is currently a recommendation, but became an expected funding boost in recent years to 13 jurisdictions.
But some state legislators, led by state Senator Nancy King, D-Montgomery, and Delegate Eric Luedtke, D-Montgomery, are planning to make funding of the formula a requirement.
The edit would effectively recoup the expected, additional funding, under the formula known as the geographic cost of education index, that Gov. Larry Hogan proposed to cut in half in his fiscal year 2016 budget.
The bill, signed by 15 state senators and 60 delegates on the corresponding version in the House, was presented at the state Senate Budget and Taxation Committee meeting Wednesday.
Bill Would Create Taskforce to Study Free Community College for Some Baltimore City Students
On the heels of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, a bill presented to the state Senate Budget and Taxation Committee Wednesday would make community college free for more Baltimore City students.
The bill, sponsored by state Senator Lisa Gladden, D-Baltimore, would apply to graduates of Baltimore City public schools who are eligible for in-state tuition and attending Baltimore City community colleges full-time.
“This bill is so simple and so swift and it’s something that every county ought to consider,” said Gladden.
But Chris Falkenhagen, director of legislative affairs and government relations for the Baltimore City Community College, said on Wednesday that he was troubled by the details, especially because the proposal lacked a funding source, and Gladden amended the bill to create a task force on the topic.
“This bill begins the conversation,” said Bernard Sadusky, executive director of the Maryland Association of Community Colleges. “The first issue is affordability and the second issue is workforce development.”
Garrett County has had a similar scholarship program in place since 2006 that is funded by the county.
More Money for Counties, Local Jurisdictions from Drivers Possible
Counties and other local jurisdictions serve to benefit from the revenues from various car-related expenses if a bill presented by state Senator Roger Manno, D-Montgomery, to the state Senate Budget and Taxation Committee Wednesday receives a favorable report.
Money collected by the state from the motor vehicle fuel tax, the vehicle titling tax, vehicle registration fees and short-term vehicle rentals are held in a special account, in the state’s Transportation Trust Fund.
Local jurisdictions, including counties, municipalities and Baltimore City, currently share 9.6 percent of the funds in the account, but this bill would increase that amount to 30 percent over a period of four years, closer to pre-recession rates.
Estimated funding under the new formula would increase shared revenues from about $95.2 million for fiscal year 2016 to about $375 million in fiscal year 2020.
Counties would get about 14 percent more of the fund, while Baltimore City and smaller local municipalities would get about 5 percent and 2 percent more, respectively.
The remainder of the fund goes to the Maryland Department of Transportation.
Manno said the legislation would return a critical funding source for smaller municipalities that have little flexibility in their budgets.
–Capital News Service correspondent Anjali Shastry contributed to this report.