The Maryland General Assembly passed a measure last year that would have boosted school funding by billions of dollars spread out over a decade.
Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed the legislation, saying the state should not commit itself to such an expense considering the economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The legislature took the first step toward making the bill a reality when the House of Delegates voted to override the governor’s veto on Monday.
Needing 85 votes to override, the House voted 95-37 to override the veto.
The members of the Sixth District delegation voted to sustain the veto, with one exception.
Delegates Bob Long and Robin Grammer voted to sustain the veto, while Del. Ric Metzgar missed the vote due to a medical emergency.. All are Republicans.
“Had I been there, I definitely would have supported the governor’s veto,” Metzgar said. “This is the first time I have ever missed a vote.”
“Even before this pandemic, taxpayers could not afford tax increases driven by the Blueprint for Maryland [ The Kirwan Commission],” Long said. “That is why I supported the Governor’s veto.”
Grammer voted against all the veto overrides. “The last thing we need to do right now is raise taxes,” he said.
It now goes to the Senate to vote to override the veto. The Senate passed the bill last year by enough votes to override the veto.
The bill, which would be phased in, is estimated to cost an additional $4 billion per year when fully implemented.
Local jurisdictions will contribute to state funding to help pay for it.
In addition, the House also voted on Monday to override Hogan’s veto of a measure that would help pay for the education bill by applying the state’s 6 percent sales tax to digital products and downloads (streaming, music, etc).
That override passed by a vote of 90-42.
Democrats say this is not an additional tax, but an adjustment to help the state collect taxes on online purchases.
Another tax bill coming up for vote would include a tax on digital ad sales (the first of its kind in the nation) and tax hikes on tobacco and e-cigarettes; this is also intended to help pay for the education bill.
The tax on digital ad sales is opposed by the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association (MDDC), which maintains it will hurt newspapers more than its intended targets (Facebook, Google).
The education plan includes expanding early childhood education, increasing salaries for teachers and hiring additional teachers, adding funding for college and career readiness and aid for struggling schools and students.