News Release, House Minority Caucus
Annapolis, MD: House Republicans today celebrate the passage of hard-fought legislation to increase accountability in education systems across the state. The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (SB 1030) has been amended to include a statewide Inspector General who will be responsible for investigating allegations of waste, fraud, and abuse in Maryland’s school systems. The creation of a statewide Inspector General has been a priority of Governor Larry Hogan and the House Minority Caucus for the last two years. These accountability measures have been resisted until now.
“Our citizens are outraged by headlines laden with the corruption, waste, fraud, and abuse by public officials”, said House Minority Leader Nic Kipke. “Their outrage is amplified when those we trust to educate our children are implicated in scandal. There have been multiple examples of this over the last several years across our state. I am glad to see the House of Delegates recognize this need and finally agree to create this Inspector General’s Office.”
Republicans were successful in securing a commitment to pass an expansion of Governor Hogan’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) program. The P-TECH is an innovative education model that integrates high school, college, and workplace learning allowing students to earn their high school diploma and an industry-recognized two-year post-secondary degree. This allows them to gain the skills and knowledge to continue their studies in a 4-year institution or transfer seamlessly into well-paying, high-potential jobs in the growing STEM industry. The amendment provides planning grants for the creation of three new P-TECH schools.
“I am really glad to see this important expansion of the P-TECH program move forward,” said House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga. “As a former teacher, wife of a carpenter, and a grandmother, I know it is critical that we look for innovative ways to education our children and break down the barriers that prevent them from finding good jobs.”
The legislation is a first step in enacting recommendations from the Kirwan Commission. This year’s legislation enacts the recommendations from the Commission’s Interim Report. The final report is due at the end of this year. While the funding for the coming fiscal year has been authorized in the budget the General Assembly passed last month, there are concerns that the price tag for fulling enacting the Kirwan recommendations could lead to significant tax increases.
“There are a number of serious concerns regarding how we will pay for the Kirwan Commission recommendations in the long term,” said Delegate Kipke. “The last time the state passed historic education funding it did so with no funding source. The aftershocks of massive tax increases and long-term structural deficits are still being felt today. While we all want our State to have a world-class education system we have to do this right and money is not the only ingredient in the solution. Our Caucus will be following the work of the Kirwan Commission closely as they complete their recommendations and issue their final report later this year. While we do not yet know what next year’s bill will look like, we know Maryland is already one of the highest-taxed states in the nation. The members of our Caucus will not support further tax increases on our citizens.”