O’Malley orders school construction study

ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Martin O’Malley has ordered a study on school construction funding in Maryland.

The governor announced Monday he was directing the Interagency Committee on School Construction to work with the Department of Budget and Management and the Department of Legislative Services to conduct the study.

O’Malley has made school construction funding a top priority of his tenure in Annapolis. The state has made $2.7 billion in school construction investments under the O’Malley administration.

In an executive order, O’Malley is directing the IAC to make recommendations on increasing funding for public school construction and creating more reliable revenue streams.

The order calls for a final report to be delivered to the governor on or before Sept. 1, 2015.

One comment

  1. Oh boy! Another commission to study another problem that requires a predictable revenue stream.

    Rather than list all the problems that have been studied to death, how about we list all the ways the State has made school construction a problem and made the funding stream for it unpredictable.

    How about – mandating programs that require capital investment but include no capital funding. A recent –as in 2014- example is Pre-K. Laudable effort, not capital funding committed to giving Pre K a place to happen. Also, only lip service to letting private preschools compete for and provide pre-K.

    Or how about – not requiring redistricting schools as a condition of receiving construction funds by the IAC. Here the issue is that the State’s IAC will spend money on rejuvenating schools (as well it should) but allows locals to fritter away their dollars on obsolete schools because the locals are too timid to redistrict. Those frittered dollar could have gone towards schools that need work instead of the greasy wheel neighborhood schools (where all the lawyers live).

    And then there’s the opposite problem: the mandated operating budget.

    The State likes to require ever increasing local contributions from local governments to fund on-going operations – this is the eye glazing “maintenance of effort” formula. The State mandates that K-12 schools get last year’s allowance and then some; no local government can reduce its share of operating costs – in Maryland this is typically 2/3s of the salary and other ongoing costs. Doesn’t matter how inefficient the schools are in say, buying widgets, cleaning buildings or paying health care claims. Last year’s budget is the foundation for this year’s, and that for next year’s. The State of course gets around their ongoing commitment by changing the rules – for more on this see the 2012 shift (more like dumping) of pension costs from the State to the locals.

    Any wonder the locals make their capital contributions “unpredictable”?

    Not so sure the problem needs a whole lot of study. What the Governor and General Assembly need is some back bone.

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