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Maryland House of Delegates passes $2.2B school construction bill

The Maryland House of Delegates has overwhelmingly passed legislation to provide $2.2 billion in school construction funding — on top of current school projects — by fiscal year 2020.

The Build to Learn Act, sponsored by House Majority Leader Del. Kathleen Dumais, a Montgomery County Democrat, passed by a 133-3 margin late Monday.

“Students should have a good learning environment, no matter their zip code,” House of Delegates Speaker Michael Busch said in a statement.

This bill authorizes $2.2 billion in 30-year Maryland Stadium Authority bonds for school construction. Local educational authorities must give priority to older schools with significant facility deficiencies, those with high concentrations of students in poverty, and overcrowded schools, lawmakers said.

The Democratic-backed legislation is a larger version of Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s Building Opportunity Act, which would authorize the Maryland Stadium Authority to issue up to $1.8 billion in revenue bonds, backed by annual payments of $125 million from the Education Trust Fund beginning in fiscal 2021, to be used for public school construction projects in the state.

Hogan’s legislation has not received a vote in its House of Delegates committee, meaning it cannot move forward.

Nevertheless, the governor praised House passage of the bill as a success and noted how similar it was to his own proposal.

“Repairing our aging schools is vital to ensuring the children in our state receive a world-class education, which is our administration’s top priority,” Hogan said in a statement. The House’s “action puts us one step closer to making the largest investment in school construction — ever — in Maryland history.”

The Senate is still considering the legislation.

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