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Md. House passes Kirwan, eyes partial funding package

ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland House of Delegates passed legislation billed by supporters as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve public education in the state.

The 96-41 vote late Friday night on House Bill 1300 fell along party lines. Its passage came as no surprise even though Republicans spent more than four hours between a morning and evening session attempting to amend the bill, commonly known as the Kirwan Commission recommendations, or to sway Democrats to their cause.

Under the Kirwan recommendations, public school systems would hire highly trained and nationally certified teachers — paying them $60,000 annually. The legislation would also fund mandatory pre-K programs for poor families and improve curriculums for students to make them college- or career-ready by the 10th grade. The plan calls for closing achievement gaps between white and minority students.

But the price tag — nearly $4 billion in additional annual funding by 2030 — has been described by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and legislators in his party as budget busting and requiring massive tax hikes to sustain.

The bill passed Friday night did not include methods for paying for the plan.

Instead, delegates in the House will take up a package of bills unofficially estimated to generate $600-$700 million in additional annual tax revenue — far short of the total funds necessary to pay for Kirwan.

The bill passed in the House Friday night now moves to the Senate, which has already been working on identical legislation filed in that chamber.

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