Council Unanimously Approves All But One Part Of The 2020 Legislative Package

The one regarding public education funding & the Kirwan Commission generated discussion.


Frederick, Md (KM) The 2020 Legislative Package was approved Tuesday night by the Frederick County Council. But there was some debate over one position statement regarding public education funding and the Kirwan Commission’s recommendations.

Councilman Phil Dacey said he was worried the Council would be supporting local and state tax increases if this section was approved. “The Kirwan Commission recommends increased spending by a lot on education. So I guess what I’m saying is are we requesting support the adoption of the Kirwan Commission as a whole, and how we’re going to pay for it,” he said.

The Commission calls for $4-billion worth of reforms over the next ten years in areas such as early childhood education, high quality and diverse teachers and leaders, college and career readiness pathways, more resources to ensure that all students succeed and governance and accountability.

$2.8-billion of the $4-billion will be paid for by state  taxpayers, which is about 70% of the cost. The remaining $1.2-billion will be covered by the counties and Baltimore City.

Chief Administrative Officer Rick Harcum says he doesn’t see  tax increases on the horizon. “I completely disagree with the assumption that there’s going to be tax increases in Frederick County associated with this,” he says “The numbers that we’ve been able to look at so far lead to believe that with a pretty healthy, vibrant, growing economy and increasing, existing tax base, we’ve got the funding in place.”

Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater said the wording of the position statement does not say anything about taxes. “If you actually read the position statement that’s in here, the very end just says ‘the County Executive respectfully requests the Frederick County Delegation’s strong advocacy and support for public education, and for advancing the funding to support the recommendations of Kirwan.’ So it doesn’t say advancing the funding by a tax increase,” she said.

Councilwoman Fitzwater made a separate motion to approve support for public education funding and the Kirwan Commission’s recommendations as a separate motion from the other parts of the Legislative Package. The vote taken was 6-1 with Councilman Dacey opposed.

Another vote to approve the remainder of the Legislative Package passed unanimously.

The other parts of the Legislative Package include bills to expand the state renters tax credit; increases to the Board of Education’s salary; and amendments to the state law providing for special elections to fill vacancies on the Board of Ed.

In addition to support for public education funding and  the Kirwan Commission’s recommendations, the position statements include increased funding for school construction; funding for paratransit; a bond bill for a veterans center; and agricultural and farming initiatives.

The Package will be formally presented to the Legislation Delegation on Thursday November 14th at 12:00 noon.

By Kevin McManus