Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan went on the defensive Friday morning when asked to explain why he has proposed to cut education funding by $144 million.
“Well, first of all, it’s not true,” Hogan (R) said during the Marc Steiner Show’s annual “Annapolis Summit” broadcast. “We haven’t cut education. I’m spending more on K-through-12 education than any governor in the history of the state. We actually increased spending on education. . . . We just didn’t increase at the rate that people would like us to and that we would like to, frankly.”
Wait, so is the new governor cutting education spending or increasing it? Well, he’s doing both.
Here’s how this works: Hogan wants to spend $6.1 billion on public schools (including teacher pensions) in the next fiscal year — which would be the most the state has ever spent and a 0.7 percent increase from this year. But that “record amount” of funding is still $144 million less than school systems had expected to receive, based on formulas the state uses to decide how much money to dole out.
A large chunk of that money would have gone to jurisdictions where it’s more expensive to educate kids, including Baltimore and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. Hogan has said that he wishes he could commit even more money to education but that it’s just not possible given an $800 million shortfall that he inherited.
County leaders and educators have slammed Hogan for not setting aside even more money for public education, saying they will have to find the extra funds in county coffers or, more likely, make cuts.
Maryland State Education Association President Betty Weller said in a statement, “Gov. Hogan’s education cuts threaten the progress of our top-notch public schools” and will result in fewer teachers, overcrowded classrooms and inadequate technology. Del. Curtis S. Anderson (D-Baltimore) called it “shameful.” Del. Maggie L. McIntosh (D-Baltimore), the new chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, warned that it could “disrupt our world-class education system.”
Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) and House of Delegates Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel), who were also guests on the radio show, said they hope to work with Hogan to restore some of this funding.
John Wagner contributed to this report.