Lawmakers need to decide how to pay for Blueprint For Maryland’s Future.
Frederick, Md (KM) Education and transportation are expected to be big issues during the 2020 Maryland General Assembly which convenes next week.
On education, legislators will be discussing how to pay for the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, which resulted from recommendations put out by the Kirwan Commission. “That sounds fine. But the recommendations to implement them cost anywhere from $2.9-billion to $39-billion,” says Frederick County Delegate Jesse Pippy, who was recently voted in as the local Delegation Chairman.
He says these amounts could get very expensive for taxpayers. “There’s six-million Maryland residents,” he says. “If you divide $40-billion by six-million, I think the number comes up to $7,000 per household.”
The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future would increase the amount of spending on public education by $1-billion within two years. In addition, the Maryland State Department of Education will be offering grants to school systems in the areas of concentration of poverty, pre-kindergarten, teacher salary incentives, students with disabilities, hiring a mental health coordinator and other areas.
The law establishing the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future was approved by the General Assembly in April. In May, Governor Larry Hogan allowed it to become law without his signature. He says it would lead to massive increases in expenditures without providing fiscal safeguards and accountability for students, teachers, parents and taxpayers. The Blueprint calls for an inspector general to guard against corruption and mismanagement.
Governor Hogan says he has contributed $32-billion toward education in the past five years he’s been in office.
When the bill was passed in April, Speaker of the House Adrienne Jones and then-Senate President Mike Miller said there’s enough money in the state’s budget to pay for the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future.
But Pippy says the Blueprint will cost state and local governments almost $40-billion. “Part of the recommendation of the Kirwan Commission is that each jurisdiction–in Maryland, we have 24 jurisdictions—23 counties and then we have City of Baltimore–would be responsible for paying X amount of dollars for education,” he says. “The problem is we have certain jurisdictions which don’t have any money.”
In addition to education, Pippy says transportation could be a big topic during the 2020 General Assembly Session, and that includes I-270. “270 is a parking lot. 15 through the city of Frederick is a parking lot. As representatives, we have the task for addressing that. The Governor has put forward a program, a plan,” he says.
That plan includes constructing a toll lane on I-270. “You could choose to ride on it, or choose to stay on the existing two lanes. It would be your choice. But if you chose to ride on the new lane, you would have to pay a toll, and the toll would reimburse the private company that’s going to build that additional lane,” says Pippy. He says that debt is expected to take 50-years to pay down.
This public private partnership, called P3 In Maryland, has been tried in Virginia and Pennsylvania to build additional road capacity.
Pippy says he understands there could be opposition to a toll lane on I-270 which is already free for motorists. “Now some people are like ‘look, I already pay taxes. Why do I have to pay a toll?’ The counter argument that proponents of the project would say ‘you don’t have to get on that road. You can stay on the existing roads that are already there, already paid for,'” he says.
Delegate Pippy says something needs to be done to alleviate traffic congestion on I-270. “Not making a decision is making a decision,” he says. “So by doing nothing, by stalling any project or any plan coming forward, you’re basically not doing anything. The problem gets worse,” he says.
Others have recommended a monorail be built in the center median of I-270 to help ease traffic congestion.
Delegate Pippy was a guest recently on “Success Happens” on WFMD.
The 2020 Maryland General Assembly gavels into session on Wednesday, January 8th.
By Kevin McManus