By BRIAN WITTE Associated Press
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — The Maryland House of Delegates voted Monday to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a comprehensive K-12 education measure that would boost school funding by billions of dollars over a decade’s time.
The House voted 95-37 to override the veto, clearing the 85 votes, or three-fifths, needed. The measure has been a top priority of Democrats, who control the General Assembly.
“This reform package, the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, is going to benefit the entire state, every county, every student, every teacher and every family — all the way from Allegany County to Prince George’s County,” said Del. Alonzo Washington, a Prince George’s Democrat.
The Maryland Senate will still need to override the governor’s veto for the measure to become law. Senators passed the bill last year with enough support for a veto override. They could take up the measure again as soon as this week.
The legislation was based on recommendations of a state commission and more than three years of study. While it would be phased in, the measure is estimated to cost an additional $4 billion in fiscal year 2030, with local jurisdictions contributing to state funding to pay for it.
The legislature approved the bill last year. Hogan, a Republican, later vetoed the bill, citing the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
Republican delegates joined the governor in opposing the bill, saying it was wrong to increase spending by such a magnitude in the aftermath of a pandemic.
“We know that we are in unprecedented circumstances,” said Del. Christopher Adams, an Eastern Shore Republican. “This legislature needs to act accordingly. The governor, when he vetoed this bill, did it because it was responsible policy at the time, not knowing how difficult the financial conditions were moving forward.”
To help pay for the initiative, the House also voted to override Hogan’s veto of a measure to apply the state’s 6% sales tax to digital products, such as streaming and music, on a vote of 90-42.
The education plan focuses on five policy areas, which include expanding early childhood education such as pre-K and increasing teacher salaries. College and career readiness, aid for struggling schools and accountability in implementation also are among the main policy areas.
Cheryl Bost, a Baltimore County elementary school teacher and president of the Maryland State Education Association, praised Monday’s vote for the legislation, which the teacher’s union has supported as a major step toward increasing equity in education and raising academic achievement.
“Through their action today, legislators are seizing this once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure that every student in every neighborhood will have a great public school,” Bost said.
A state commission, known as the Kirwan Commission after former University System of Maryland Chancellor William Kirwan, recommended the legislation after studying how to make Maryland schools competitive with the world’s best.
Maryland worked with a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, the National Center on Education and the Economy, to compare Maryland’s public education policies with high-performing systems in Finland, Singapore, Canada and China, as well as Massachusetts, New Jersey and New Hampshire in the United States.