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Landmark plan to invest $1 billion in city schools delayed

A minority of lawmakers convinced the House of Delegates Wednesday to delay voting on a landmark plan to invest about $1 billion in building and replacing Baltimore schools.

About 40 delegates, mostly Republicans, asked for another day to examine the proposal that was unveiled Tuesday and relies on spending $20 million a year in state lottery cash to help the city and its schools borrow up to $1.1 billion.

It's fundamentally different from the solution pushed by schools officials to create a block grant system. Lawmakers argued they did not have time to digest the complex, revamped proposal. 

"I'd like to be able to vote for this, but I need to know what I'm looking at," said Del. Susan Krebs, a Republican from Carroll County. 

House Speaker Michael E. Busch and the city's delegation, along with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, have endorsed the plan as a way to revitalize a city that could be on the path to decay. The money would be enough to build 15 new schools and renovate 35 more, proponents said. Supporters argue the new schools would both benefit current students and attract young families to move to the city, enriching Baltimore's middle class. 

Del. Curt Anderson, chair of the Baltimore City delegation, urged fellow supporters to acquiesce and to hold the measure until Thursday. An en masse vote switch followed, and delegates unanimously supported holding the measure. 

"I don't want process to get in the way of progress," Anderson said.

Only five days remain for the House to send legislation to the Senate.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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