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Hogan Allows ‘Kirwan 2.0’ to Become Law Without His Signature

Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R). Photo courtesy WTOP.

Citing fiscal concerns, Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan (R) announced Friday that he will not sign the complementary bill to the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, the multi-billion-dollar education reform plan that was enacted into law this year.

But the new legislation, known informally as “Kirwan 2.0,” will go into law without Hogan’s signature — and the governor wants the legislature to revisit the measure next year to figure out how to pay for it.

Senate Bill 965/House Bill 1372 was sponsored by the presiding officers of the General Assembly and would adjust the timeline of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, as well as address the learning loss that occurred during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Kirwan 2.0” — named for former University System of Maryland chancellor William E. Kirwan, the architect of the Blueprint — extends tutoring programs to students in grades 4 through 12 and increases funding for digital devices and behavioral health support.

After recognizing the learning loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and supporting the extra tutoring and summer school programs under the new legislation, Hogan wrote in a letter Friday to Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) and House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) that there is not enough money to fund the Blueprint from fiscal year 2027 through fiscal year 2033.

As a result, the state would have to increase taxes in order to fund the measure, Hogan asserted.

“Without a funding source identified, this would require the state to inflict crippling tax hikes on Marylanders who are already struggling to recover from the pandemic,” Hogan wrote. In total, Maryland households would pay $3,150 more in taxes on average, he wrote, citing a need to raise income taxes, property taxes or sales taxes to fund the education reforms.

“During this time of unprecedented crisis, the last thing Marylanders need are higher taxes,” Hogan said.

Over the next decade, the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future will expand pre-kindergarten programs and career education for high schoolers, increase pay and career opportunities for teachers and funnel additional support to schools with high concentrations of students from low-income families.

Last year, Hogan vetoed the bill, claiming that it was untenable to raises taxes during an economic downturn induced by the coronavirus pandemic. But the General Assembly overrode his veto in February, and it is now law.

Del. Ben Barnes (D-Prince George’s), chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education and Economic Development Subcommittee, said he’s not surprised that Hogan is not going to sign HB 1372.

“This reform is paid for through 2027,” he told Maryland Matters. “But the bottom line is that this legislation works together with last year’s bill to fundamentally change how we fund public education — through accountability, prioritizing concentrations of poverty and other historically neglected populations, and by making sure the money follows the students we have set [Maryland] on a path toward world class education for every student.”

Under the revised Blueprint plan, state spending will increase by $4.6 million in fiscal year 2023 and to $65.2 million by fiscal year 2026. Meanwhile, local jurisdictions would spend $15 million more in fiscal year 2026, but will be saving almost $70 million since local school districts would not be required to pay the local share of some funding formulas in fiscal year 2022, according to a fiscal analysis of the bill.

“House Bill 1372, while correcting some of the problems of the earlier version I vetoed, completely fails to directly address this most important issue,” Hogan wrote. “I believe that we can still accomplish this shared goal in a fiscally responsible and sustainable manner. The General Assembly will need to once again rewrite the original legislation to address these critical fiscal flaws in the 2022 legislative session.”

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Hogan Allows ‘Kirwan 2.0’ to Become Law Without His Signature