Big win for students, educators, and school funding!
The passage of SB 848 is a monumental step forward for Maryland's public schools, protecting local school funding from deep cuts, providing local governments with the flexibility they've long asked for, and ensuring the dependable levels of funding that our students need to thrive. Read more about how SB 848 is a huge win for students, educators, and local governments.
Maintenance of effort is a state law designed to protect the quality of our children’s education by discouraging local governments from shortchanging our schools and students. Recently, weaknesses in how the law was written have been abused. This abuse shortchanged students, schools, and communities, creating an urgent need to comprehensively fix maintenance of effort law.
A comprehensive fix to MOE
On February 27, after two months of workgroup meetings, a team of delegates from the Appropriations and Ways and Means committees revealed the much-anticipated MOE bill. House Bill 1412 is a comprehensive bill that addresses all of the aspects of the broken law, including:
- Creating "maintenance of effort" as the understood funding floor and providing predictability in local funding for education.
- Accurate accounting of the MOE to exclude school construction debt service from the calculation.
- A mandated waiver process if a county ever funds below the MOE standard.
- Increased flexibility for counties that may need to seek MOE relief in challenging economic times.
- Elimination of the current penalty system, replaced with an assurance of funding, even if it requires the state directing county aid straight to the local school board.
- Helping counties help themselves to make their effort by providing additional taxing authority for the specific purpose of funding education.
On March 15, the Senate passed a strong, comprehensive bill to fix maintenance of effort—Senate Bill 848. While similar to HB 1412, the key differences in SB 848 are:
- Expands protection in the reduction in recurring cost waivers by requiring employee association agreement if personnel or personnel costs are being reduced.
- While maintaining the provision to allow for exceeding property tax caps, SB 848 does not allow for raising income tax rates above the 3.2% local rate cap.
- Adds history of compensation as a factor for the State Board to consider when MOE requirement waiver requested.
- Waives pending MOE penalties for FY12, benefitting Montgomery, Queen Anne’s, and Anne Arundel counties.
- For FY13, allows counties that missed MOE in FY12 that have a local income tax rate of 3.2% to rebase at 2012 level, benefitting Montgomery and Queen Anne’s counties.
- Improves the certification timeline of when the State Superintendent certifies if a county meets its maintenance of effort in a given year to help settle funding disputes before the start of the school year.
- Includes a transparency provision to generate an annual MOE review report from the State Board of Education to review all waiver requests and findings in a given year.
On March 23, the House of Delegates passed SB 848, sending it to Governor O'Malley for his signature. On April 10, Gov. O'Malley signed the bill. As emergency legislation, the bill became law immediately, solidifying this big win for our schools.
The success of Maryland's public schools depends on protecting our investments in our schools and students by fixing the broken maintenance of effort law.
MSEA, MABE, and PSSAM blueprint for fixing MOE
During the 2011 legislative session, MSEA, the Maryland Association of Boards of Education, and the Public School Superintendents Association of Maryland released a blueprint for how to fix the state’s broken maintenance of effort law. The blueprint reflected a number of important principles for reform, including: creating predictability and a consistent funding floor without a permanent funding ceiling; accurate accounting of MOE; preserving school funding for education rather than retirement costs; accountability and a mandatory waiver process; increased flexibility for county governments; fairness; and assistance in finding and applying new revenue. SB 848 reflects the principles of the blueprint. Read the blueprint here.
Download the report
Learn more about MOE in the MSEA report released in November 2011, Maintenance of Effort: Repairing Maryland’s School Funding Safeguard. Download it here.