Anne Arundel County is poised to receive about $8 million in additional school construction money as part of an increase in funding for educational districts with enrollment growth higher than the statewide average.
The additional funding was added to the Maryland capital budget after the House of Delegates and Senate agreed on changes to the bill. The capital budget is funding for construction, refurbishing and maintenance of projects throughout the state.
Lawmakers decided to boost the enrollment growth funding an additional $28 million. The capital budget was passed Wednesday with 130-8 vote. The Senate passed the bill with a 45-1 vote the same day.
Several other projects in the county received funding as well, including money for the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts in Annapolis and the Chesapeake High School turf field in Pasadena.
House of Delegates Speaker Michael Busch estimated the county would receive an additional $8 million in school construction money. Busch — as he is every year — was a key component in additional funding brought to the county during budget negotiations.
Busch also said all of the state’s lawmakers worked hard to put forth worthy projects.
“It’s good to be speaker,” Busch said. “Anne Arundel County did very well. They were all good projects.”
A county spokesman said no decision has been made on how to spend any increased school construction funding. The $8 million has not been made official yet — Gov. Larry Hoganstill has to sign the capital budget and can veto specific projects.
“We forwarded funded some projects with county dollars to keep their construction on track,” said Owen McEvoy, a spokesman for County Executive Steve Schuh. “We may use the money towards those projects. We thank the speaker and delegation for their efforts to support Anne Arundel County Schools.”
With the capital budget passed, both it and the $44 billion operating budget have been sent to Hogan’s desk. The budgets were passed with few votes against them, a change from the contentious budget debates during Hogan’s first year.
The General Assembly can’t add to the state’s operating budget, but it can make cuts. The capital budget is different with lawmakers allowed to add projects within a certain amount set by the Spending Affordability Committee. Hogan’s capital budget was proposed initially at $995 million. The final version of the bill capped at about $1.1 billion.
Busch said the funding would still keep Maryland’s AAA bond ratings.
Officials in Hogan’s office said the capital budget as originally drafted would have saved Marylanders $740 million over 15 years compared to the Spending Affordability Committee’s cap.
“Gov. Hogan has submitted four consecutive budgets that hold the capital debt limitline at $995 million a year,” said Shareese Churchill, a Hogan spokeswoman. “Due to years of over-borrowing by previous administrations, debt service has become the fastest growing cost, on a percentage basis, in the general fund budget. If left unchecked, spending on debt service will soon eclipse the state’s annual investment in school construction."
Apart from the $8 million, several local projects received a boost in funding.