News from Annapolis
2019 Session:          Delegate Trent Kittleman - District 9A
Week Nine
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Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education (Kirwan)
Initial Recommendations in 
House Bill 1413
        The Kirwan legislation is a 28-page bill with a price tag of $324,600,000 in FY 2020 and $749,740,000 in Fiscal 2021, with the balance of the $4 billion price tag looming ahead.  Below is a listing of the specific programs created or expanded by the legislation, and the amount of state funding allocated in the bill for each program. 
  • Concentration of Poverty School Grant Program. $54,000,000
    • $248,883 to each school with 80% of students eligible for free meals; for one community schools coordinator and one health care practitioner.
    • $126,170 for each such school; for a Director of Community Schools
  • Compensatory Aid, Low-income Proxy. Focuses on maximizing eligibility for Medicaid reimbursement.
  • Special Education. $137,500,000
  • Transitional Supplemental Instruction for Struggling Learners: $23,000,000
  • Mental Health Services Coordinator. $83,333 to each local school system
  • Prekindergarten Supplemental Grants. Expanded grants assuming every 4-year old will attend full day
  • Declining Enrollment Supplemental Grants. Extend through Fiscal 2021
  • Teacher Salary Incentive Grant Program. $75,000,000.
  • Teacher Collaborative Grant Program. At least $2,500,000
  • Outreach and Training. $250,000
  • MSDE Data System Enhancement: $500,000
Selected State Funding Increases under the Bill 
For Both Fiscal 2020 and 2021* 
($ in Thousands)
Where's the Accountability  ??
        The one thing you will  not  find in the bill is a system for holding school systems accountable for implementing the Kirwan recommendations or for actual outcomes in the form of measurable student improvement.  There is a reference to another bill that creates an Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability within the Department of Legislative Services.  This cursory mention is far from the strong independent oversight committee that was promised in the Report.
Published: Fri, March 15, 2019 1:05 AM Updated: Fri, March 15, 2019 1:41 AM
         The warnings in an editorial in the Washington Post this past Friday should be taken seriously. 
        "There seems to have been a headlong rush to embrace the commission's recommendations, with most state politicians swearing fealty to them in last year's elections. That should give serious pause to Maryland taxpayers."
          Education experts and others have been waving a red flag for some time -- not because they object to the Kirwan Commission recommendations, but because they want those recommendations to succeed!  And without strong accountability and consequences, it won't.
          Maryland has a perfect template of what doesn't work.  From 2002 to 2008 the state increased education spending by $3.2 million -- a 113% increase -- following the recommendations of the Thornton Commission which was established to fix our schools.
          It didn't.
          After the Thornton investment, "Maryland still wound up exactly where it began -- in the middle of the pack.
          As one expert from the National Center on Education and the Economy said, "Thornton failed to deliver the improvement in student performance that its authors envisioned because no one was held accountable."
          The Post editorial reiterated the concern: " The state's previous experience [with Thornton] also demonstrated the shortcomings, if not outright failure, of increased education expenditures to produce better outcomes. . . . they say this time it will be different because there would be a new state bureaucracy that will ensure accountability.
          Color us skeptical."
Exploding the Myths
We're Number One ?
        For many years, Marylanders believed that our schools were  exceptional, as evidenced by our yearly rankings in the top five. The Kirwan Commission is to be congratulated for looking at reality rather than hype.  Here's what the report said:

" The reality the Maryland must face is that its students perform in the middle of the pack within the U.S., which is in the middle of the pack of the rest of the modern world.. . .  however, when it comes to actual learning outcomes, Maryland's public education system is a long way from performing at the level of the best in the world or even the best in the United States."
Severely Underfunded?

         I doubt there is anyone in the entire State who has not heard how "underfunded" our school systems are.   The Maryland State Education Association has been beating the drum of underfunding for years, and their efforts have redoubled ever since the Kirwan Commission held out the promise of more money.
          The Maryland State Department of Education has also invested effort in portraying our schools as underfunded; indeed, they commissioned a "study" in 2016 that found -- somehow not surprisingly - that "public schools in the state are annually underfunded by $2.9 billion."  
        according to a 2016 stud
          The "methodology" used by these MSDE consultants was to ask Maryland educators what they would need to help their students achieve, and then studying how much those strategies would cost."
          That would be like consultants asking my daughter how much allowance she needs to take care of her needs, and then telling me that her current allowance is "underfunded" by the difference between what she gets and what she "needs"!     
Maryland invests more money in education than most other states
          As reported in last week's Newsletter, Maryland spends more on education than most other states.  According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau, of the 100 largest school systems by enrollment, Maryland has FOUR school districts in the Top Ten category.
          Baltimore City Schools in Maryland were ranked fourth in per-pupil spending; Howard County was fifth. 
          The four top international school systems all spend less per pupil than Maryland.
          On an objective basis, it would be hard to make the case that we are "underfunding" our schools. 
If money's not the answer, what is?
          The Maryland Court of Appeals recognized that money was not the only reason that schools might be failing.   It found (1) the public school children in Baltimore City were not being provided with an adequate education. . . but (2) there was a genuine dispute regarding the CAUSE of the inadequate education."  

          Clearly, the alternative to more money is better spending.

          During the seven year period when the City Schools were under a Consent Decree to get their financial house in order, time and again they failed, driving one member of a financial recovery plan to opine: "In a system with almost a complete lack of consequence for overspending, the surprise is that the deficit is not even larger."  Other examples of poor spending include:

  • Overpaying administrative staff.  in a City where the average household earns $44,000 a year, the City School system had 727 employees who made at least $100,000.
  • Bloated administration costs. 
    According to the most recent U.S. Census report, City Schools has the "highest administration c osts per student in the nation"
  • Inability to plan and budget spending.   Since 200 9, City Schools have had to return roughly $66 million in state  funding for much-needed repairs after approved projects ran afoul of state regulations meant to prevent waste, records show
  •  City Schools also "failed to avail itself of over $13 million of available State and Federal Funds" between 2001-2004, according to a 2004 Ernst & Young report.
  •  According to another one of the many panels created to help City Schools improve during the pendency of the Consent Decree, criticized the Thornton legislation, saying the legislature made a number of erroneous assumptions.  For example, the legislature did not focus enough attention on ensuring that MSDE was developing adequate oversight.  Ultimately, this panel said the Thornton structure had the "makings of a disaster" from the beginning, and listed the specifics of the issues not addressed:
    • no continuity of leadership in City Schools
    • no system of internal communication
    • no discipline
    • no meaningful oversight
    • a sense in middle management that new initiatives need not be followed because senior management would change
    • no accountability, and
    • no sanctions for failure to perform

        For the Kirwan recommendations to succeed, it becomes very clear that it won't happen without strong accountability and consequences for failure.

        The question is:  Where is the bill creating "Accountability"? 

New Money for School Construction
          For many years, now, Maryland has not been adequately funding school construction.   Even counties like Carroll and Howard are feeling the pinch.  
          This year, however, the state has come up with a workable plan to build or renovate most of the backlog of school construction projects in the state within just a few years.  
        School construction is a capital expense.  It can be funded by selling bonds.  Normally, Maryland State bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the State. That is very powerful collateral. However, there is a limit to how much we can borrow, and right now, debt service is up to and beyond the limits we try to maintain.  Some projects can be funded with "paygo" (pay as you go) dollars that come out of the General Fund.  There are advantages to PayGo, such as paying up front does not require the creation of debt.  Nevertheless, with all the demands on the General Fund, there is little appetite for paying for capital projects therefrom.

          Different from both ob those funding methods is the use of  revenue bonds.  These bonds are sold against a guaranteed stream of revenue and not the full faith and credit of the State.  The Maryland Transportation Authority, for example, sells revenue bonds that are backed by the toll revenues paid into the Authority.  
         The Maryland Stadium Authority can also sell revenue bonds. Its collateral is the "guaranteed" stream of revenue from its share of the Lottery proceeds.
          More recently, the State mandated that the State's share of the casino revenue be put in a virtual "Lockbox" and used to fund the  Education Trust Fund.
        In 2015, the Governor and the legislature created a very successful program to employ the Stadium Authority's bonding capacity to secure $1.1 million of bonds to build schools in Baltimore City. The Stadium Authority is the project manager on the construction and the program has been working beautifully as you can see from the chart.
               This year, the Governor (HB 153) and the legislature (Delegate Dumais, HB 727) filed bills to use the same type of arrangement to fund school construction throughout the state.
               The bills are not only similar they have 18-19 pages of identical language, with just two exceptions.
               A superficial difference is that when the bills created the "Special Funds," to hold and distribute the money, they chose different names for the funds.
               The substantive change comes on the last page of the bills. While both bills call for $125,000,000 each year, they differ on funding source. Governor Hogan's bill opts for using the Education Trust Fund as the source of funds. The Casino monies that flow into the lockbox provide a stream of revenue well able to secure bond sales.
               Delegate Dumais' bill looks to the Stadium Authority to back school construction bond bills. 
                 There are pluses and minuses to each choice.  Based on past experience, the legislature will likely ignore the Governor's bill and pass the bill brought by a member of the majority party.
Unionize Graduate Students ?
Graduate students at Columbia University - on strike to protest the school's refusal to negotiate with their newly formed union.
Yes, apparently they are  serious

          HB 270  provides collective bargaining rights to graduate students, graduate assistants and others in similar situation who work for a state college or university.  
          I must say, my first reaction to this bill was, " are they serious?!"  Apparently, they are.  This issue is making its way into the progressive list of rights, bolstered by  a 2016 National Labor Relations Board decision that held  graduate students who work as teaching or research assistants are employees and are therefore entitled under federal labor laws to unionize and to bargain collectively for better pay.     
          But despite what the NLRB has said, there are those who see this trend as self-destructive An article in Forbes magazine worries about  "the wack-a-mole problem: one benefit pops in, another pops out.  If universities have to pay students more per task, they would offset this cost by paying smaller stipends for living expenses. " 
        On a more serious note, the author says, "Let's first understand what the bargain with the graduate students is not. It is not-come to college and get paid for teaching and research. Rather, it is come to college to get trained and build your human capita l."  
Sanctuary Bills Update sanctuary
HB 817:    State and Local Correctional Facilities - Undocumented Immigrants - Transfer to United States Department of Homeland Security (Keep Our Communities Safe Act of 2019)
"This bill requires a State or local correctional facility with custody of an undocumented immigrant who is serving a sentence in the facility for conviction of a crime to transfer the individual to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on request."
Status: Hearings have been held weeks ago; to date, no vote on either bill has been taken or scheduled.


HB 913/SB 817:   
 " Correctional Facilities and Police Officers - Procedures - Immigration Status."

 "This bill prohibits, without a federal judicial warrant, the detention of a person beyond the person's State-law release date or the notification of federal immigration authorities of the person's State-law release date, location, or address only for immigration enforcement purposes. The bill also prohibits police officers from inquiring about an individual's immigration status, citizenship status, or place of birth during a stop, search, or an arrest conducted in the performance of regular police functions."
Status: Hearings have been held weeks ago; to date, no vote on either bill has been taken or scheduled

HB 1165:  Government Agents - Requests for and Use of  Immigration Status Information.
This bill prohibits a government agent from requesting or coercing information relating to the immigration or citizenship status of a person, a person's family, or a person's acquaintances, unless required by law.
This bill passed the House by a vote of 92-47 today, and is now in the Senate for action.   
To support HB 817
District News

Status  of  Howard County
Local Bills
Original House
and Hearing Dates
Opposite House
and Hearing Dates
Howard County
Board of Education - Election of Members Ho. Co. 01-19
Passed by House; awaiting hearing in Senate
Ways and Means
2/21/2019 - 1:00 p.m
Howard County Board of Education -
School Year - Start and End Dates
Ho. Co. 25-19
In the House -
2/14 at 1:00 p.m.
Ways and Means
2/14/2019 - 1:00 p.m.
Howard County -
Alcoholic Beverages - Marketplace License
Ho. Co. 06-19
In the House -
Second Reading
Economic Matters
2/18/2019 - 1:00 p.m.
Howard County -
Authority to Impose Fees for Use of Disposable Bags
Ho. Co. 04-19
In the House -
Second Reading
Howard County -
Howard County Housing Commission - Subsidiary Entities
Ho. Co. 26-19
In the House -
3/19 at 1:00 p.m.
Environment and Transportation
3/19/2019 - 1:00 p.m.
Howard County - 
School Facilities Surcharge - Rates
Ho. Co. 03-19
In the House -
3/26 at 1:00 p.m.
3/26/2019 - 1:00 p.m.
Howard County -
Transfer Tax - Collection by Director of Finance
Ho. Co. 30-19
In the House -
3/15 at 1:00 p.m.
Ways and Means
3/15/2019 - 1:00 p.m.
Howard County -
Department of Correction - Authority to Establish Programs
Ho. Co. 29-19
In the House - Rereferred to Judiciary

School Surcharge Fee: 
More for School Construction!
 Bill approved by Howard scheduled for a Hearing  on March 26 in Appropriations
          Education is of paramount importance to Howard Countians.  Indeed, people move to the County to take advantage of what are truly excellent schools.  
          For a number of years, Howard, like almost every other jurisdiction in the State, has been unable to keep up with the growing need for significant maintenance efforts, more new school buildings, or expanding space in the existing schools --without using portable classrooms.
           As the needs have grown, so has the effort to increase the "school surcharge" fee imposed on developers building new residential housing. Currently, the fee is $1.42 per square foot of occupiable area in residential new construction.  The County would like to raise that fee to $4.00 or perhaps more.
          Just as the Council was ready to approve an increase, the County found that it needed authority from the State to increase the fee.   So this year, Delegate Atterbeary introduced a bill (Ho.Co. 03-19) that would increase the fee to $4.00.   
          Without going into the details, I will note that the delegation studied, scrutinized, investigated, researched, explored, considered and revised this legislation to such an extent that the sponsor of the bill voted against it!  
          Nonetheless, we managed to pass a bill giving the County the authority to increase the fee, and thus have more money for school construction.  
In fact . .  there will be far more money for school construction!

Delegate Trent M. Kittleman Scholarship
College students 
and college-bound seniors (and/or parents thereof) 
If you live in Legislative District 9-A 
( western Howard County and southern Carroll County)    
I Invite you to apply for one of my legislative scholarships.
District 9-A Residents:        
          Current high school seniors and full-time or part-time, degree-seeking undergraduate students, graduate students and students attending a private career school may apply.
For questions regardi ng the a pplication process, please call my Annapolis office and ask to speak with Chelsea Leigh Murphy at 410-841-3556.
Please be sure to have your completed application postmarked by April 5, 2019.
Delegate Trent Kittleman
District 9A, Western Howard County and Southern Carroll County (Sykesville)
Room 202, Lowe House Office Building
6 Bladen Street,   Annapolis, MD 21401
410-841-3556  *   Trent.Kittleman@House.State.MD.US
Interim Office
3000 Kittleman Lane,  West Friendship, MD 21794
301-661-3344  *
Administrative AideChelsea Leigh Murphy