Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has announced a plan to spend $3.5 billion in school construction projects across the state.
The Baltimore Sun reports that the proposal calls for $1.9 billion in new construction, in addition to the $1.6 billion in public school construction funding already included in the state’s five-year capital budget.
The increased funding is available in part because of a constitutional amendment that requires the addition of casino revenue to school funding.
“Education has always been our administration’s top priority and today’s announcement represents the largest investment in school construction—ever—in Maryland history,” Hogan says.
However, Hogan says he believes a preliminary price tag of recommendations from a General Assembly commission studying school funding for classroom expenses was too high.
The Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education is considering recommending a phased-in annual increase of $4.4 billion for operating schools in Maryland. But Hogan says spending tens of billions more over the next decade on school operations could not be done without raising taxes — which he pledged not to do.
The state has not yet released a list of schools that would receive the capital funding under Hogan’s construction plan, but the governor says the money would cover “more than 90 percent of the projects requested by local school systems from 2020 to 2024.”
The new funding would come from revenue bonds funded by casino gaming revenues. In November, nearly 90 percent of voters supported a constitutional amendment to earmark revenue from Maryland’s casinos to supplement existing education funding.
Karen Salmon, the state’s superintendent of schools, says the funding will create “healthy, modern and efficient schools” that will cover almost all existing building requests.