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Gov. Larry Hogan is facing backlash after criticizing the Kirwan Commission and questioning where funding for their recommendations will come from.

Gov. Larry Hogan is facing backlash after criticizing the Kirwan Commission and questioning where funding for their recommendations will come from.

The governor, who called the work of the commission “half-baked,” said at a conference of county officials earlier this month that the proposals would require “billions and billions more in mandated spending increases for county and state taxpayers.”

After his remarks, both the Kirwan Commission and Strong Schools Maryland, a grassroots organization that advocates for public education, criticized the governor, saying he was attacking the commission instead of working with them.

“It is surprising and disappointing that Gov. Hogan attacked the work of his commission whose sole purpose is to create the blueprint for how to make Maryland public schools the best in the world,” Joe Francaviglia, Strong Schools Maryland’s executive director, said in a statement. “This is about the future of our state; we do not have time for political games.”

Frederick County Public Schools has been working to implement a few of the proposals, including working to support reading intervention and expanding full-day prekindergarten programs across the county, according to Schools Superintendent Terry Alban.

Both Alban and Board of Education member Joy Schaefer served on the commission. Schaefer said she was taken aback by the governor’s comments.

“I am shocked that he called our recommendations half-baked,” Schaefer said. “For three years and four months ... we have heard from experts, looked at research, and deliberated. ... There’s no way any of this is half-baked.”

The Kirwan Commission was formed in 2016 to make recommendations on improving education across Maryland. So far, the commission has called for increasing teacher pay and providing full-day prekindergarten for low-income families, among other proposals.

The total cost would be $3.8 billion a year as all the proposals are implemented over the next decade. The commission continued to meet this summer to find and recommend funding formulas.

Hogan has said the Maryland Department of Budget and Management estimates paying for the proposals would require a 39 percent increase in the personal income tax, an 89 percent increase in the sales tax, or a 535 percent increase in the property tax.

“They took this action without any regard to funding formulas and with absolutely no plan whatsoever for how any of your counties or the state taxpayers could possibly pay for any of it,” Hogan said at the conference.

State Sen. Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore city) said the commission has been working with the understanding that funding suggestions would be needed.

“Of course we have to pay for it. Of course it’s going to be challenging. But what we have to do is lead, and we lead by setting forth a plan,” Ferguson said.

Schaefer agreed.

“It’s just funny because nobody ever tasked the commission to come up with funding. We took that on ourselves to be proactive without putting out costs and not knowing where the funds are coming from,” Schaefer said.

As the commission’s all-day meetings continued last week, the governor’s office reiterated its skepticism.

“We have heard nothing today from partisan legislators to suggest they have a real plan, a strategy or even an inkling of how to fund the Kirwan blueprint,” Kata Hall, a spokeswoman for Hogan, said in a statement.

The Kirwan Commission is expected to release its recommendations for funding in September.

“We are hopeful that the governor will meet us halfway,” Schaefer said. “[Because] these changes need to happen. ... This is the kind of investment that will benefit Maryland.”

Follow Katryna Perera on Twitter: @katrynajill.

(15) comments

Jo177

What ever happened to the money from Maryland casinos going toward education?

Quisling

Good job Larry, don't let these folks spend my money on their pet projects.

Comment deleted.
MD1756

Where do you think the state gets a good part of its revenue? Property, sales and income taxes in Maryland make up approximately 35% of the State's total revenue (from state data). This is revenue that, in part, the states obtain from individuals so, it is money individuals had until the state taxed it. Other sources of revenue come indirectly from the individuals (through the prices they pay in products and services they buy where companies are paying taxes on their income, property, etc.). I don't have Bill Gates' wealth so I am concerned with how the state spends money it takes from me (I still would be even if I had Bill Gates' wealth) I want all levels of government which tax me to be efficient and effective with the money they have taken from me. I also want them to tax in an equitable manner (and with the current income tax codes, income taxes are not equitable). You may not care what happens with the money you pay in taxes, but why do you feel the need to violate the discussion rules by insulting someone you may not agree with?

butterflygirl

Educating students in the state is not a pet project.

MD1756

All funding options better include as the the recommendation that the income tax deductions and income tax credits parents get for having their children (it was a choice they made to have children) are eliminated. At least that way parents would finally pay the same to educate their child as those of us who have no children are forced to pay. I also still have a hard time with the real benefits of all day pre-k towards a child's long term education. It seems more like free child care. If all day pre-k is so great, will we be seeing drastic increases in performance of the students and drastic reductions in absenteeism by the time they graduate? What is the projected cost versus the projected benefit? Does any of the recommendations require greater parental responsibility and involvement? If not why not?

Blueline

This Commission spent 3 years and this is what they produce? Any study which ignores a major factor in the planning process is lacking at best, incompetent at worst. It's more like a 5 year-old's letter to Santa Claus than something we should expect from well-compensated public servants.

seanjames

"The Kirwan Commission is expected to release its recommendations for funding in September."



maybe implementing these changes will help future generations with reading-comprehension

duffy5x

Let me guess, you have never taught?

Blueline

Correct, I have never taught in school. Let me guess, you never did any business proposals or budgeting? What subject is it that you do teach?

shiftless88

Blue; did you read this sentence? "“It’s just funny because nobody ever tasked the commission to come up with funding." They actually looked at it some but it was not in their mandate. So do not blame them.

Blueline

I did see that, and it's a ridiculous statement. That is akin to the real estate collapse when people bought houses they couldn't afford and said "I didn't know my payment would go up in two years." The whole process appears to be half-baked, but I wonder who did give them their "mandate" then.

shiftless88

Maybe that is the question you should have asked or looked up instead of blaming them for doing something that they were not called to do.

joelp77440

Read the report. It's alright. Nothing half-baked in there but nothing the teachers union has not been pushing for awhile either (i.e., better teacher pay will equally equate to better students..... yeah sure).

duffy5x

So not paying teachers well works out soooo much better? Is that really your premise?

shiftless88

I do wish that they would do a better job of linking pay to job performance. Rhee had it right in DC.

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