The House of Delegates voted overwhelmingly Friday to approve a landmark school construction bill, 128-6.
The measure, the Built to Learn Act (House Bill 1), is a key priority of the chamber’s new presiding officer, Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County), and represented her first big legislative victory since she took the gavel.
A similar measure is under consideration in the state Senate, where it enjoys robust support.
The legislation would authorize the Maryland Stadium Authority to issue up to $2.2 billion in bonds to pay for school construction projects around the state. The spending would be in addition to the state’s traditional allocation of funds for new schools and renovation projects.
The borrowing would be repaid through casino revenues that have been stored in the state’s education “lockbox.”
After the vote, Jones noted that lawmakers from both parties and all corners of the state backed the measure.
“I think it’s telling how important this bill is on both sides of the aisle, and I was pleased to finally get it done so we can move forward and try to do some good things for citizens, our youth and our counties.”
Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) praised lawmakers for advancing a measure “to bring schools across our state into the 21st century, and for agreeing with us on the need to provide local school systems, and most importantly our students, with the healthy, efficient, heated and air conditioned, modern school buildings that they deserve.”
House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Maggie L. McIntosh (D-Baltimore City) said the measure will be of particular value to Maryland’s larger counties, which have struggled to keep up with a surge in enrollment.
Funds will be allocated based on historic funding levels:
- Baltimore City: $420 million
- Baltimore County: $420 million
- Montgomery: $420 million
- Anne Arundel: $250 million
- Howard: $132 million
- Frederick $102 million
- All other counties combined: $230 million
Prince George’s County, which is pioneering a public-private partnership program to fast-track the construction of new schools, will receive $25 million a year for up to 30 years to fund the new initiative.
“What you see now is a backlog that is tremendous — I would say $15 billion of backlog in most school construction needs and renovations needs and systemic issues in the big major counties,” McIntosh said. “So this really helps that backlog. That’s why we did the bill.”
Hannah Gaskill and Danielle E. Gaines contributed to this report.