This morning, Gov. Hogan’s office announced he would be withholding approximately $80 million included in the General Assembly’s bipartisan FY2017 budget—including $25 million for public schools. This is the second consecutive year that Gov. Hogan has made the unilateral decision to withhold funding from schools; last year, he withheld $68 million, resulting in larger class sizes, cut programs, and lost educator positions in the thirteen counties where cuts went into effect.
Maryland State Education Association President Betty Weller released the following statement:
“Educators were hopeful that Gov. Hogan was done playing political games with our kids’ education. After all, his budget proposal this year did not include the same hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts for public schools that his first budget did. Unfortunately, Gov. Hogan’s office announced today that he would be withholding $25 million in funding for public schools this year, making it the second consecutive year he has made the decision to cut schools with budget surpluses.
“It appears that Gov. Hogan is more concerned with scoring partisan points than addressing overcrowded schools, lowering class sizes, and providing students and educators the support they need to be successful. The change that Gov. Hogan has brought to Maryland is an increasing record of looking for every opportunity to shortchange our students and the hard-working educators who help them learn everyday.”
Last year, Gov. Hogan justified his decision to withhold $68 million of public schools funding because he wanted to re-direct those resources to public employee pensions that he argued were under-funded (though, his promise was actually not possible). But $19 million of the $25 million that he just withheld from public schools this year would have gone to helping local school systems pay for educator pensions.
Gov. Hogan has also consistently criticized school systems at Board of Public Works meetings for not properly maintaining their school buildings. The other $6 million that he withheld today would have gone to the Aging Schools Program, which helps districts maintain aging schools for longer periods of time.
To be clear, counties will still have to ensure that pensions are funded and paid. But they now have less support from the state to make that happen, meaning that the $19 million would come from school-based instructional spending—on things like educator positions, holding the line on class sizes, and updated textbooks and technology—to make up for the lost state funding.