The final bill increases the amount of money that the state plans to spend over the next two years to more than $800 million to implement the recommendations from the Kirwan Commission, a panel that spent the past two years looking at how to transform the state’s public school system into a world-class school system.
The recommendations from the panel include expanding early-childhood education, increasing teacher pay and boosting spending on special education. It also calls for grants to schools with high poverty rates and for improving teacher standards.
The House amended the bill to include raises for school counselors and psychologists. The Senate bill also included the creation of an Office of the Inspector General to address complaints of waste, fraud and abuse while the House offered that the inspector general be appointed jointly by the governor, treasurer and comptroller. The final legislation calls for the Office of the Inspector General, a priority of Hogan’s, to only be created if the governor releases $225 million for fiscal 2020 to pay for the initial down payment of the plan.
Cheryl Bost, the president of the Maryland State Education Association, described the bill as “the boldest action possible given current budget limitations.” Hogan has not said whether he supports it.
As legislators sent the education bill to the governor’s desk, the House of Delegates overrode Hogan’s veto of a measure permanently protecting five oyster sanctuaries on a party-line vote Friday morning.
Hogan argued Democratic lawmakers ignored his effort to compromise and hastily sealed off watermen’s access to tributaries where large restoration projects were underway.
“This bill is bad policy, is bad for our watermen — and worst of all — is bad for the Chesapeake Bay,” Hogan wrote in his veto letter late Thursday, hours before the law went into effect.
The Senate, which passed the bill by a veto-proof majority, is set to take it up on Monday, the last day of the 90-day session.
The sanctuary bill was a top priority of House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) and heralded by environmentalists as key to reviving the long-troubled estuary. Oysters work as natural filter, but the population is currently just 1 percent of their historical highs.
“We have to err on the side of caution,” House Environment and Transportation Committee Chair Kumar P. Barve (D-Montgomery) said during the debate.
The sanctuary bill would prohibit any oyster harvesting on five tributaries: Harris Creek, the Little Choptank River, the Tred Avon River, the St. Mary’s River and the Manokin River.
Last week, lawmakers overrode Hogan’s veto of bills that create a $15 minimum wage, let school systems decide whether to start school before Labor Day and strip from the comptroller the authority to regulate tobacco and alcohol.
Numerous other bills received final approval on Friday. Among them: a measure that expands the child-care tax credit; a bill that allows the state to collect taxes from so-called marketplace facilitators, such as Poshmark and Amazon; and legislation that expands access to in-state tuition breaks to undocumented immigrants.
Individuals whose adjusted gross income is less than $92,000 or married couples with an income of less than $143,000 are eligible to claim the child care tax credit on their state income tax return.
The new marketplace facilitators tax, levied on platforms that enter into contracts with third parties to sell goods, could garner as much as $100 million. It is one new way to raise money as the state looks for more than a billion dollars to boost spending on education.
The bill affecting undocumented immigrants expands the 2012 Dream Act by removing a requirement that students attend two-year colleges before being eligible for the grant for in-state tuition.
Lawmakers also voted late Thursday to abolish a controversial board that decides who receives concealed carry gun permits, giving that responsibility to judges instead.
The Handgun Permit Review Board was created in 1972 to hear appeals when the Maryland State Police turned down someone’s request to carry a concealed gun. In recent years, gun-control advocates have questioned whether a politically appointed board was the right way to hear appeals. Hogan appoints the board’s members.
Rachel Chason contributed to this report.