In the showdown between Gov. Larry Hogan and House Speaker Michael E. Busch over state budget priorities, public school teacher unions are misrepresenting the true nature of the $5 million proposed to assist low-income students in non-public schools ("Gulf widens between Hogan and Democrats," April 9).
The $5 million is not for vouchers, and it does not fund non-public schools. The $5 million would provide matching grants to incentivize businesses to invest in financial assistance for families of low-income students. Pennsylvania has such a program, and 14 other states do too. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has just proposed such a program in his state, and it recently passed in the New York Senate.
The Maryland Senate has passed this program year after year. It has bipartisan support; it is supported by Senate President Mike Miller and lead sponsor Senator Ed DeGrange, and it was supported by former Gov. Martin O'Malley. Governor Hogan is a major champion of this program. Most state delegates support it, too, but the state teachers union and Speaker Busch have prevented it from coming to a vote year after year. This funding will help give low-income families with children more educational choices.
What is shocking is that House Speaker Busch and the teachers union would reject $70 million in public school funding — the GCEI program — if it means they also have to support $5 million going to help low-income children at non-public schools.
This is obviously not about money. Speaker Busch has instead offered another $4 million in textbook money for non-public schools. While such an increase is helpful, it won't help a low-income family provide their children the education best suited to their needs. It's time to break the annual stranglehold on this bill by Speaker Busch and let this bill through.
Matt Wyskiel, Baltimore