ACLU of Maryland Alarmed As Senate Poised to Cut Public Education "Thornton" Funding

Affiliate: ACLU of Maryland
November 7, 2007 12:00 am

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland today expressed alarm that the Budget Reconciliation Act (SB1), as amended yesterday by the Budget & Taxation Committee and expected on the Senate floor for a vote this morning, leaves a nearly $200 million shortfall in public education funding for fiscal 2009 and another $300 million reduction in fiscal 2010. SB1 amends the historic Bridge to Excellence in Education Act by deleting the built-in increase for inflation; the inflation factor was recommended by the “Thornton” Commission to ensure that education funding would hold its value over time.

Nearly unanimous testimony last week from educators and education advocates indicated that public education will be in serious jeopardy if schools do not receive some assistance with inflation. Despite this, the Senate Budget & Taxation Committee with no discussion approved yesterday the provisions of the bill that freeze education funding for the next two fiscal years.

The full Senate is expected to vote on this bill along with revenue bills this morning at 11:00 a.m. “Our public schools are going to be hit very hard by this shortfall,” said Bebe Verdery, Director of the ACLU-MD Education Reform Project. Costs of existing services are rising and schools rely on state funding guaranteed to them under current state law to meet those costs. Verdery added: “Many schools across the state are already struggling to provide an adequate education to their students. The Senate¹s bill will cause serious setbacks in that struggle across the state, even as education standards are rising. The bottom line is that this shortfall falls on Maryland¹s educators and public school children.”

Said ACLU-MD Executive Director Susan Goering: “I doubt that taxpayers in Maryland expected that a special session devoted to restructuring revenues would result in a cut to our public schools. The goal of the session is to raise the revenues required to address the state¹s legitimate needs. The cost of educating our children is surely a legitimate need, as the state constitution¹s mandate reminds us.”

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