Maryland’s House Republicans are urging vetoes of an ambitious education reform plan ― and the tax bills that would fund it.
The House Minority Caucus sent a letter to Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) on Monday, requesting that he veto the 235-page Blueprint for Maryland’s Future bill, which lays out a broad education reform plan that would increase annual education spending by almost $3.4 billion in 10 years.
The Republicans are also advocating for a veto of House Bill 732 and House Bill 932, which together are estimated to collect more than $430 million annually in new tax revenues on a wide array of items, including tobacco sales, digital advertising and online downloads like e-books and music.
“With the economic toll the COVID-19 pandemic is having on our economy, this is the worst possible time to be increasing spending and increasing taxes,” House Minority Leader Nicholaus R. Kipke (R-Anne Arundel) said in a statement.
He cited an estimate from Maryland’s Bureau of Revenue Estimates that suggested the state may lose as much as $2.8 billion in revenues because of the COVID-19 pandemic before the end of this fiscal year.
“Maryland is facing a potential budget shortfall of nearly $3 billion by the end of this fiscal year. We cannot afford this level of spending and Marylanders cannot afford higher taxes,” Kipke said.
The entire House Republican caucus opposed the bills during the legislative session, but last-minute financial protections in the Blueprint bill attracted support from a half-dozen Republicans in the Senate.
“We knew then these bills were ill-advised at their conception,” House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga (R-Baltimore County) said in a statement. “Now they are also abysmally timed.”
Hogan has until this Thursday to act on the majority of more than 680 bills passed by the General Assembly during the 2020 session. He can sign the bills, veto them or let them take effect without his signature.