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Hogan proposes $12.7 million more for Baltimore schools

Gov. Larry Hogan has proposed spending $12.7 million to help Baltimore offset a drop in state education aid — with the understanding that the city will kick in more money, too.

The governor included the money in an addition to his budget Thursday that also would increase funding for drug treatment in state prisons, pay for a new Department of Human Resources computer system and fund college and university construction projects he previously had postponed.

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Baltimore schools are scheduled to get about $25 million less in state aid next year because of declining enrollment and rising property values. Hogan restored some of that amount, with the understanding that city officials would increase their contribution, said Douglass Mayer, a spokesman for the governor.

City leaders welcomed the Republican governor's proposal and said they would find a way to come up with more on their end. Del. Maggie McIntosh, a Baltimore Democrat who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, said the city would be expected to spend at least $10 million.

She said it was only fair for the city to put in more if the state was doing the same.

"The mayor appreciates the governor's commitment to put more money into the city schools," said Howard Libit, a spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. "As we finalize our internal city budget discussions, we are working to put more city money into city schools."

Libit said the administration would work with state lawmakers to determine how much it can contribute.

Baltimore City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young said the city will figure out how to come up with the money, despite a projected deficit and other demands on the budget.

"We're going to look to see if we can find it," Young said. "With the unrest in April [after the death of Freddie Gray], we have a lot of challenges in the city, and $10 million is a lot of money that can go a long way with jobs, infrastructure improvement, recreation for our youth. If we have to find it to put skin in the game, we'll find it."

Asked if he thought the deal was fair, Young responded: "I would rather not comment on that."

Hogan's proposal to send new money to Baltimore schools follows his decision to provide supplemental aid to three counties that also have experienced declining enrollments, which count against school systems in the state's education aid formula. He also budgeted an additional $1.1 million for Calvert County schools Thursday.

Baltimore Education Coalition members had pressed Hogan for more funding for weeks. They wrote letters and staged a rally outside the governor's mansion Wednesday night that brought more than 300 people to Annapolis.

Sen. Nathaniel McFadden, a Baltimore Democrat, thanked Hogan during a Senate session for putting money for schools in the supplemental budget.

"He cares deeply about the city of Baltimore," McFadden said. He said he'd been talking with the Hogan administration about giving city schools more money since last summer, when the governor sent extra money to the other districts with declining enrollments — Garrett, Kent and Carroll counties.

McFadden said he was glad that talks with Hogan and his staff weren't derailed last month when members of the Legislative Black Caucus held a news conference to criticize the governor for proposing to pay for a new city jail by delaying construction projects at historically black universities. When asked if they thought Hogan's decision was racially motivated, some caucus members responded: "Absolutely."

After that incident, McFadden said he told the governor: "In the heat of the moment, some of my colleagues were upset but didn't have knowledge of what was happening behind the scenes."

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Sen. Edward Kasemeyer, a Howard County Democrat who chairs the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, said his committee members will review the governor's proposal as they make decisions on the budget this week.

School systems are funded jointly by state and local governments, and Baltimore puts a smaller percentage into the schools budget than other jurisdictions do for theirs, McIntosh said. "It's time for the city to decide that the schools are the priority," she said.

In the third supplemental budget since submitting a $42.3 billion proposal in January, Hogan allotted an additional $3 million toward the prison drug treatment program — part of his high-priority effort to fight what he has called an epidemic of addiction to heroin and other opioids in Maryland. He also proposes $13.8 million for a new computer system at the Department of Human Resources, calling the current mainframe "outdated, cumbersome and inefficient."

His proposed construction spending on college campuses includes $4.7 million for a new student service support building at Morgan State University, $1.3 million to renovate a building as the new home for Coppin State University's business school and $5 million for a life sciences building at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Hogan's spending proposal also includes $31.7 million for the Biomedical Sciences and Engineering building at the Universities at Shady Grove and $3.5 million for a pharmacy and health services building at the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore.

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