December 17, 2017

Priority Issue: State Budget Status & Updates

 
State Budget for FY 2018 (2017-2018 School Year)

In the 2017 legislative session, MABE advocated for full State funding for Maryland’s outstanding public schools; urging the Governor and General Assembly to support increased funding of public education in the FY 2018 State Budget. MABE's advocacy is grounded in the association's adopted Resolution "Adequate and Equitable State and Local Funding of Public Education" and Legislative Position "State Education Funding". These documents provide the foundation for MABE's ongoing advocacy for adequate and equitable state funding to support Maryland's outstanding public schools. 

During the 2017 legislative session, on behalf of all 24 local boards of education, MABE lobbied to:

  • Support sustaining full funding for public education in the FY 2018 State Budget, including the Geographic Cost of Education Index (GCEI) and inflation factor, to support the successful administration and operation of local school systems and the teaching and learning of the more than 870,000 public school students across the state; 
  • Support the legislative and funding recommendations, including those of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, consistent with updating and enhancing the funding provided by Maryland’s nationally recognized standards-based school finance system; and 
  • Oppose any effort to reduce state funding and/or shift funding responsibilities from the state to county governments.

2017 Session Update

State Operating Budget for Education (HB 150) (Ch. 150) (Administration); and
The Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act (BRFA) (HB 152) (Ch. 23) (Administration)

On March 28, 2017 the General Assembly gave final approval to a $43.5 billion state budget when both chambers approved the Conference Committee report. The State Budget includes the State education aid for FY 2018 to fund public schools for the 2017-2018 school year. Maryland’s 24 local school systems will receive approximately $5.6 billion in FY 2018, and overall direct aid to local school systems will increase by $96.4 million, or 1.7%, over the prior fiscal year. Major funding categories and programs include: Foundation, Compensatory, Limited English Proficient, Special Education, Transportation, Geographic Cost of Education Index, Guaranteed Tax Base, Net Taxable Income, Supplemental Grants, and others.

In addition, State payments to the pension system for retired teachers totals $770 million. The budget does include reductions in education aid and retirement contributions, with the majority of the reductions coming from a $35.6 million reduction in State costs for pension contributions for teachers.

The Governor’s budget proposed repealing mandates to fund several education programs including those which were to be funded for the first time in FY 2018. These proposed cuts were addressed in the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act (BRFA) (HB 152). The BRFA does lower the FY 2018 mandated funding for several education programs including the Teacher Induction, Retention, and Advancement Pilot Program; statewide and Anne Arundel County teacher stipends; and the Public School Opportunities Enhancement Program. Funding in FY 2018 for the Public School Opportunities Program was restored to $2.5 million; and mandated to increase to $7.5 million in FY 2019. In addition, funding was restored for the Next Generation Scholar’s Program ($5 million), the Robotics Grant Program ($250,000), and Enoch Pratt Free Library ($3 million).

The State Budget also restricts funding for disparity grants for jurisdictions receiving an increase until the Maryland State Department of Education certifies that each jurisdiction has increased local spending on public schools above the Maintenance of Effort (MOE); and specified that increased allocations to public schools under this language will not increase MOE requirements in FY 2019.

MABE supported sustaining full funding for public education in the FY 2018 State Budget.MABE advocated for doing so while at the same time requesting that the Governor and General Assembly address the teachers’ retirement funding gap and the shortfall for the Baltimore City Public Schools and other school systems with declining enrollments. These issues were addressed in separate legislation described below. MABE opposed provisions of the BRFA to reduce or repeal future obligations to fund specific educational programs. (MABE Testimony)

Teachers' Retirement and Pension Systems – County Boards of Education Payments 
HB 1109/SB 1001) (Ch. 5) (Del. Barnes/Sen. Guzzone)

This bill relieves county boards of education, including the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners, from their FY 2017 obligation to pay $19,695,182 of their share of the employer normal cost for their employees who are members of the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) or Teachers’ Pension System (TPS).

MABE supported this legislation to relieve local boards of education from their FY 2017 obligation to pay nearly $20 million to the State Retirement Agency in unfunded costs resulting from increases in the local share of retirement costs for current employees. MABE appreciates the attention to this issue by the Governor in his proposed budget and by the General Assembly through this legislation. (MABE Testimony)

State Grants for Education Aid (HB 684/SB 1024) (Ch. 6) (Del. Krebs/Sen. McFadden)

This bill provides enrollment-based and prekindergarten supplemental grants to eligible local boards of education for FY 2018 through 2020; prekindergarten supplemental grant award amounts are phased in over a three-year period. A local board is eligible for an enrollment-based supplemental grant if the county’s most recent prior three-year moving average full-time equivalent enrollment (FTE) is greater than the FTE in the previous school year. A local board is eligible for a prekindergarten grant if the local board offers a full-day program for all four-year-olds who are enrolled in public prekindergarten.

The bill imposes additional requirements on the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners and Baltimore City. In order for Baltimore City Public Schools to receive additional State funds under the bill, Baltimore City must increase its local contribution by specified amounts each year. The bill takes effect June 1, 2017. The Fiscal Note provides the funding amounts for school systems receiving additional State Aid for the supplemental PreK and enrollment-based grants. 

MABE supported this bill because the declining enrollment grants provided by this legislation in the FY 2018 State Budget will help ensure the adequacy of education funding for these local school systems in the 2017-2018 school year. (MABE Testimony)

BOOST Nonpublic School Voucher Program

The State Budget provides $5.5 million for the Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today (BOOST) program and alters funding specifications and reporting requirements. The House approve a much lower amount of $2 million and the Senate recommended the full amount requested by the Governor of $6.85 million. MSDE is required to report on the distribution of the BOOST Program scholarships, information on the students receiving scholarships and teacher certifications for participating non-public schools.

MABE opposes private and parochial school vouchers, tuition tax credit programs, or other proposals that would threaten public school funding and public control over the use of public dollars. Also, MABE supports strong public accountability measures for any funding of private and parochial schools. Therefore, MABE initially supported eliminating funding for the BOOST program, and supported the House position of reducing funding. MABE appreciates the legislature’s support for enhanced accountability for the BOOST voucher program, and the rejection of a significant funding increase.


For more information, contact John R. Woolums, Esq., MABE's Director of Governmental Relations, at jwoolums@mabe.org or 410-841-5414.