Editors' Pick

Worst News for MoCo from the State Legislature

One legislator likened it to the old “Charlie Brown” comic strip, in which the title character is habitually poised to kick the football—only to have it pulled away at the last moment. After years of effort, members of Montgomery County’s Annapolis delegation thought they finally had the ball in place in 2020 for much needed school construction funding—in the form of a $2.2 billion bill, with $420 million allocated to Montgomery over five years. The largesse would have more than doubled annual construction aid—around $60 million in recent years—to Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) to deal with a student population that, at least until the COVID-19 pandemic, had been increasing by about 2,500 a year. The money would have helped to underwrite an approved MCPS capital improvement budget of nearly $1.73 billion over the next six years. But a provision of the legislature’s “Built to Learn Act” provided that it not take effect until another bill containing the recommendations of the so-called Kirwan Commission on education reform became law. The latter measure was vetoed in May by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, citing the Kirwan legislation’s $4 billion annual cost at a time when state income was taking a severe hit from the pandemic. With state education funding heavily reliant on casino revenues, which have stabilized, leading Democrats may push for a veto override this year—and hope this political football finally clears the uprights.