The new Republican leader of Howard County has joined Democrats in the Maryland legislature in calling for Gov. Larry Hogan (R) to boost education funding next year.
Hogan’s proposed budget includes an overall increase in state aid for K-12 education, but it provides $144 million less for local jurisdictions than mandated under existing funding formulas, based on enrollment and other factors.
In a letter Wednesday, Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman (R) asked Hogan to provide an additional $5.7 million to his jurisdiction, arguing that “proposed budget cuts in education funding would severely hamper Howard County’s ability to provide the outstanding student experience that is expected by our residents.”
The slower growth in education spending is one of several strategies Hogan has advocated to close a state budget shortfall of more than $700 million. He told reporters Tuesday that he is open to providing more money for education if legislators can find savings elsewhere.
“As the governor has said many times over the past few weeks, he is open to all ideas from both Democrats and Republicans on how to live within our means while still providing for the essential government functions, and he looks forward to hearing from County Executive Kittleman with his ideas,” Hogan spokesman Doug Mayer said Wednesday.
Mayer also pointed out that although Howard would get less education aid than anticipated next year under Hogan’s budget, the county would receive $6.9 million more than it is receiving this year.
Kittleman, a former state senator, was in Annapolis on Wednesday lobbying Hogan’s budget staff for additional help, Kittleman spokesman Andy Barth said.
In his letter to Hogan, Kittleman said that Howard, one of the state’s wealthiest jurisdictions, is grappling with its own budget shortfall and that “it would be disappointing to not be able to maintain some of our crowning achievements.”
Besides the $5.7 million in K-12 aid, Kittleman also asks Hogan to restore about $900,000 in aid to Howard Community College and about $45,000 to the library system.
Democratic lawmakers have said restoring education funding is their top priority for the 90-day legislative session. And several Democratic county officials have also spoken out.
This week, Prince George’s County Council Chairman Mel Franklin (D-Upper Marlboro) said he feared some counties would have no choice but to raise taxes to make up for the loss of anticipated school funding.
Barth said Kittleman doesn’t see this as a partisan issue.
“I think he sees it as trying to help Howard County,” Barth said.