- Obama’s regulatory agenda will cost U.S. economy $143B next year: report
- Patriot Act author on James Clapper: Fire, prosecute him
- Russia P.M. Medvedev: No amnesty for political prisoners
- Michigan GOP Senate hopeful reminds government is the ‘servant’
- Christmas, by Congress: Members mull a 15-cent tax on trees
- U.S. unemployment falls to five-year low of 7 percent; 203K jobs added
- World mourns Nelson Mandela and celebrates his life; burial set for Dec. 15
- Bill O’Reilly reminds: Nelson Mandela ‘was a communist’
- John Boehner says GOP should support gay candidates: ‘I do’
- Grass-Whopper: Pan-fried cricket burgers go over big in New York City
Maryland’s local school funding mandate opposed
County officials see rise in property taxes
Question of the Day
Local leaders in Maryland say a proposed state mandate on local education funding goes too far in dictating the fiscal decisions made by county governments.
A budget package approved last week by the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee would toughen a state law that already requires counties to match or increase their education funding from year to year. The law has been criticized by county officials in recent years as untenable.
Many state lawmakers say the change is needed to preserve the quality of public education, but county officials say it could force them to raise local property taxes and represents a further intrusion on local authority.
“We are quite proud of our support of education,” said Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner, a Democrat. “But at the same time, this bill is a significant overreach and will jeopardize future funding.”
The Senate committee passed a budget package that includes broad state income-tax increases and the shifting of $68 million in teacher-pension costs onto counties. The full Senate is expected to vote on the proposal this week.
The package would also close loopholes in the state’s maintenance-of-effort (MOE) law, which mandates that counties at least match their previous year’s per-pupil education funding.
Counties that violate the law are penalized in the next fiscal year, receiving flat state education funding rather than a scheduled increase.
The new MOE law — proposed by Sen. Nancy J. King, Montgomery Democrat — would allow counties to raise property taxes above existing local caps to help meet minimum education-funding requirements.
If counties still fail to provide minimum funding, the state would be able to seize local income-tax revenue and give it directly to the county's school board.
“The state is stepping in and substituting its own judgment,” said Michael Sanderson, executive director of the Maryland Association of Counties. “The idea of the state saying, ‘Keep feeding the beast and tax yourself as much as you have to’ is an unfair expectation on county governments.”
Many county executives and local lawmakers have argued that meeting the MOE law has been nearly impossible since the economic downturn.
They say that bad times have forced counties to neglect other parts of their budgets — making deep cuts to employment, health and public safety — because they weren’t able to touch education, which in some instances accounts for as much as half of their spending.
Smaller, poorer counties say they have been hit especially hard — and larger, more affluent counties say they are struggling to match funding levels that skyrocketed during happier economic times, and that state penalties only put them in a deeper hole.
County officials have been locked in a continual battle against local school boards and many state lawmakers who have heralded the quality of Maryland schools and say a stronger MOE law is crucial to protecting teachers and students.
“It’s the one service that is a constitutional mandate in Maryland,” said Sean Johnson, director of legislative affairs for the Maryland State Education Association. “I don’t think it’s a sacred cow as much as it is viewed as the right type of investment. You need the state to ensure greater accountability at the local level.”
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
David Hill joined The Washington Times in February 2011 as a Maryland political reporter. He can be reached at email@example.com.
- Md. drivers could face eventual doubling of gas tax
- Federal appeals court restores Maryland's concealed carry law
- Md. bill would end student suspensions for mimicking gun behavior
- Maryland Senate passes bill decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana
- Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell assailed on transportation
Latest Blog Entries
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
- Spike in battlefield deaths linked to restrictive rules of engagement
- Activists urge Obama to go rogue, sidestep Congress
- 'Hunger Games' delivers Obama's message on income inequality
- Rush Limbaugh: Obama trying to make Mandela death about himself
- Inside China: Nuclear submarines capable of widespread attack on U.S.
- Obama administration issues permits for wind farms to kill more eagles
- Kill team: Obama war chiefs widen drone death zones
- Chris Matthews: GOP less patriotic than South African white apartheid leaders
- MILLER: Obamacare enrollees include 101 members of the House of Representatives
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
The Constitution: Every issue, every time. No exceptions, no excuses. And how to get from here to there.
Why can’t humans just be free to be humans?
Get in the middle of all the action inside and outside the boxing ring.
Find the latest news and happening that effect those in the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland Metro region.
White House pets gone wild!