Maryland maintains one of the best public school systems in the country, and that is not by accident. We have made a concerted effort to make sure that our schools get the funding they need to help our kids achieve all of their academic goals and set them on the right path towards success. I am a strong supporter of our public schools and take immense pride in those achievements. Public school funding not only helps our students achieve their goals, but helps us as a State maintain a highly educated citizenry, our greatest economic resource. I am happy to work with my colleagues in the General Assembly to make education a priority, even while we’ve dealt with painful cuts to and misleading promises about our budget. We continue to focus on maximizing school funding, both operationally and through capital construction funding. This way, we can maintain the best possible learning and education facilities, staff them with the best, most experienced educators and school staff, and provide the resources that our children need to learn and thrive in a competitive economic environment.
In the news recently, there’s been a lot of talk about the Kirwan Commission, and their findings about the status of education in Maryland. My colleagues and I have been working very diligently to implement many of the Commission’s recommendations, and to ensure that we provide the necessary funding to make these plans a reality. We’ve worked to put together a “lockbox” for funding from casino gaming revenue that will supplement the existing budget. The people of Maryland voted over a decade ago to allow this gaming for exactly this purpose, and yet we still have not reaped the benefits.
Another commission that’s been discussed recently is the Knott Commission, otherwise known as the 21st Century School Facilities Commission. Their focus has been to bring school buildings throughout the state up to date, and to ensure that the State and Counties are using the best funding practices, as well as providing transparency in the bidding process. Montgomery County has seen a rapidly expanding school age population, while other areas in the state are seeing an exodus of students, requiring multiple strategies for improvement, rather than a one-size-fits-all solution.
Education also goes beyond K-12, and we have some of the best public Universities available to our graduates. Providing funding is a necessary step I fight for every year, but in addition, we need to make sure higher education is affordable as well. That is why I supported the College Affordability Act of 2016 and supported establishing the Student Loan Tax Credit in 2017. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I fought and obtained funding for facilities and resources for both Montgomery College and the Universities at Shady Grove.