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Hogan declines, for now, request to double cash for fixing heating problems in Baltimore schools

Gov. Larry Hogan has declined a request to double the amount of emergency assistance he’s giving to Baltimore schools to fix heating problems.

In a letter to legislative leaders this week, Hogan said that after the $2.5 million he has committed is spent, he will consider releasing more money if it’s warranted.

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The money is coming from an account called the Catastrophic Events Fund.

Last week, Hogan offered $2.5 million to city schools after a cold snap left students and teachers in some schools huddled in classrooms wearing winter coats. Schools were closed for days while crews fixed faulty boilers and broken pipes.

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Then a group of lawmakers called the Legislative Policy Committee asked the governor to commit $5 million instead. House Speaker Michael E. Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller called the school heating problems an “exigent need.”

Former NFL linebacker Aaron Maybin tweeted a video from a Baltimore school building and became a prominent figure in the drama over heating malfunctions and other poor conditions at many city schools.

The Legislative Policy Committee, which is composed of both Democrats and Republicans, said it must give permission for the governor to spend money from the Catastrophic Events Fund.

In a response letter this week, Hogan countered that he does not need the committee’s approval, citing a 2005 opinion from the state attorney general.

But Hogan didn’t rule out the possibility of eventually giving more money for school heating repairs.

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“Should the Department of General Services and Baltimore City Public Schools reach a point where the initial $2.5 million is spent and ascertains that more funding is necessary, we will evaluate a further dispersal from the fund,” Hogan wrote. “I am certainly willing to consider appropriating the additional funds that you recommend from the Catastrophic Events Fund.”

Hogan said the fund currently has a balance of $4.8 million. It was last used to assist with recovery from the 2016 flood on Main Street in Historic Ellicott City.

Baltimore Sun reporter Erin Cox contributed to this article.

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