This post was originally published on WBALTV NEWSAdd to Favorites
ANNAPOLIS, Md. —
Gov. Larry Hogan announced Wednesday that he wants to immediately put a lockbox on casino money and funnel funds to education by changing state law.
State House Democrats announced plans 10 days ago to do the same thing by putting the question on the ballot and letting voters decide whether to change the constitution.
There’s dueling legislation before the General Assembly, both of them putting lockboxes on casino revenue and diverting more funds to schools. Democrats are pushing for a change to the state constitution to make that happen.
Now, the governor has introduced a plan to do it through legislation, rather than making it a November ballot question.
“Without waiting for another election, another campaign, another referendum that would have people supporting and opposing, the voters need to get what they were promised. Ours would directly take effect with legislation that I’d sign into law,” Hogan said.
The governor said his bill will pump $4.4 billion into K-12 education over 10 years, or $440 million each year. He’s dedicating $1 billion to school construction above the current level.
The measure has the backing of state Comptroller Peter Franchot.
“The fact (that) thousands of kids sit in freezing classrooms in the winter, sweltering classrooms in the summer or in schools that have mold and unsafe drinking water or in buildings that are structurally unsound, that is simply unacceptable,” Franchot said.
Both bills phase in the additional funding over four years. A constitutional amendment is more difficult to change than a state statute.
“Yes, some future Legislature, some future governor could pass a new law and say, ‘We are not going to spend money on this.’ I think that’s an unlikely occurrence once we get this legislation done,” Hogan said.
Although the governor declined to say how he would backfill the money diverted from the general fund, he did declare his proposal would not require any tax increases.