The House voted 96 to 41, along partisan lines, after hours of debate.
“We haven’t done anything more significant for education in the state of Maryland since we created the Board of Education in the 1900s,” said Majority Leader Eric G. Luedtke (D-Montgomery). “It addresses the problems we’ve known about in our schools for decades. We finally have the political will to do something about it.”
Gov. Larry Hogan and Republican lawmakers have criticized Democrats for pushing the plan without a funding source and blasted the overhaul effort as too expensive and lacking in accountability.
“This is a massive spending plan that is about to be foisted on the state of Maryland,” said Del. Haven N. Shoemaker Jr. (R-Carroll), who questioned whether more money would lead to better outcomes.
The education bill is four years in the making but was fast-tracked in recent weeks. Luedtke said Democrats hope to present the plan and its funding source to Hogan by March 25, which would give the legislature time to override any gubernatorial vetoes before the General Assembly adjourns April 6.
Luedtke added he was hopeful that Hogan would not veto the policy prescriptions but noted that the House advanced the bill on Friday with a veto-proof majority.
The education changes would cost nearly $4 billion a year by fiscal 2030, an amount that would require local and state contributions but would largely fall to the state to cover.
Before the vote, Del. Alonzo T. Washington (D-Prince George’s) defended the major investment.
“We’re not throwing money at a problem,” he said. “We are making sure that students have the resources that they need to perform at a high level.”
Earlier Friday, House Minority Leader Nicholaus R. Kipke (R-Anne Arundel), who spoke in support of an amendment that would put the program on “autopilot” after three years if students did not meet certain achievement levels, said the state should take a cautious approach.
“If this plan is not working, we need to know,” he said. “We’re not asking for superhuman results. We’re just asking for a little assurance.”
Del. Ben Barnes (D-Prince George’s) said the bill included an accountability provision that calls for an oversight board to ensure that districts are spending the money appropriately. Kipke’s amendment failed 41 to 93 , largely along partisan lines.
It was one of nearly 20 amendments, mostly offered by Republicans, during the lengthy debate. The others included: a push for more money for scholarships to private schools, greater authority for the state’s education inspector general and a proposal to stop the phase-in of the $15 minimum wage if the state is facing major revenue shortfalls.
Del. Jay Walker (D-Prince George’s), the only Democrat to offer floor amendments, asked his colleagues to make a financial literacy course a graduation requirement and to require school districts to provide 90 minutes of physical education a week to elementary school students. Both are bills he has pushed for several years, and each was rejected.
The General Assembly passed legislation in 2016 to create a panel, commonly known as the Kirwan Commission, to study how to transform Maryland’s schools into a world-class system that could compete with those in China and Switzerland.
Last year, policymakers issued a report that painted a grim portrait of the state’s public education system, arguing that, by not providing its students and teachers with proper resources, the state is failing them.
Among the findings: Fewer than 40 percent of kindergarten students enter school ready to learn, and fewer than 40 percent graduate prepared for college or career.
Legislative leaders have said that without sweeping reforms, the state will not be able to compete globally. They also have argued that it is a moral imperative for schools to close persistent achievement gaps that especially affect students of color and the poor.
House Appropriations Chairwoman Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore City), who served on the education panel, said it would “morally indefensible” not to pass the legislation.
Erin Cox contributed to this report.