Maryland House of Delegates passes $46.7B budget over Gov. Larry Hogan's objections

Maryland’s House of Delegates on Thursday overwhelmingly passed a $46.7 billion spending plan that boosts funding for the state’s public schools while cutting some of Gov. Larry Hogan’s favored proposals.

The budget passed 124-14 with little debate, but it drew the ire of top Republicans.


Del. Maggie McIntosh, the Baltimore Democrat who is chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, noted that the budget provides $320 million more for operating Maryland’s public schools. That would be the first step toward implementing recommendations from the so-called Kirwan Commission, which has proposed ambitious new programs to boost student performance.

Before it passed, McIntosh urged her colleagues to “vote for the one of the best budgets, if not the best budget, I have ever seen for the children of Maryland.”

The House’s spending plan also includes $500 million for public school construction and $46 million more for bonuses for lower-wage state employees who aren’t covered by a collective bargaining agreement.

“Who would we be if we didn’t give our workers a raise?” McIntosh said. “Who would we be if we didn’t pass the Fight for 15? Who would we be if we didn’t invest in every child in every ZIP code in this state?”

But Republican leaders took a dim view of the changes to Hogan’s proposals.

House of Delegates Minority Leader Nic Kipke of Anne Arundel County said he was troubled by the Democrats’ cuts to charter schools and funds to send kids from poor families to private schools.

“I’m troubled by how we’re treating public charter schools in this budget,” Kipke said. “I’m concerned about the cuts to the BOOST program. It’s a critical tool to free children from schools that fail them. It gives them a chance at success.”

The House’s budget phases out the Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today program — nicknamed BOOST — which provides a limited number of scholarships for children from low-income families to attend private schools.

In a statement after the budget was passed, Hogan blasted the Democratic lawmakers.

“The egregious cuts outlined in the budget that passed today — including over $16 million in cuts to funding that would enhance school safety, increase accountability, and provide better opportunities for our kids — are the height of hypocrisy and a disservice to our students, teachers, and parents,” the governor said.

Democratic leaders have said their top priority is legislation to increase education funding by $1 billion over two years.

The legislation comes in response to an interim report from the Kirwan Commission, formally titled the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, but nicknamed for its chairman, former University System of Maryland Chancellor William “Brit” Kirwan.

It recommended several proposals to help schools in Maryland, including implementing full-day prekindergarten that is free for low-income 3- and 4-year-olds; hiring and retaining high-quality and diverse teachers; and increasing standards and services so all students are ready for college or career, with particular attention on students in schools with high concentrations of poverty.

The Senate now must also pass a version of the budget before the end of the General Assembly session in April.


Sen. Nancy King, the Montgomery County Democrat who is chairwoman of the Senate’s Budget and Taxation Committee, said her committee is backing a spending plan with lower funds for implementing the Kirwan Commission recommendations than what the House is calling for.

King said the majority of her Senate committee believes it more fiscally prudent to provide $225 million — rather than $320 million — for the first year of the public school funding plan.

“We’ve got to do what we can afford to do,” King said. “We decided it was a more responsible move to go with the lower amount.”

To pay for the full Kirwan Commission recommendations, “we’re going to have to raise some kind of revenue,” King said. “And I don’t hear any appetite from my colleagues to raise taxes.”