State of the States
Governor Proposes School Aid Increases
• Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., R
Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. this week made yet another pitch for a bill legalizing slot-machine gambling in Maryland to pay for education, although similar bills have been rejected by the legislature three years in a row.
In his Jan. 26 State of the State Address, Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican who has announced he will run for re-election this year in the Democratic-majority state, said the bill would help pay for the construction costs of new schools “so desperately needed in every part of the state.”
Finance: Mr. Ehrlich said funding for schools in Maryland has increased by more than $1 billion over the past three years, and funding for school construction has more than doubled. In January, the governor unveiled a fiscal 2007 budget that would allocate $4.5 billion for K-12 schools, for an 11.3 percent boost over the current fiscal year. The increases include $462 million in basic school aid and an additional $281 million for school construction funds.
“Few believed we could fund the Thornton formula without additional revenues. But we did,” Mr. Ehrlich said, referring to a school finance commission headed by Alvin Thornton, the associate vice provost at Howard University in Washington, whose work led to a state law mandating an increase of $1.3 billion in school aid between 2003 and 2007.
Test Scores: Mr. Ehrlich also credited his administration with improving reading and mathematics scores on the Maryland School Assessment given to all students in public schools between grades 3 and 8. Scores rose in all of the state’s 24 school systems last year.
Vol. 25, Issue 21, Page 22