TESTIMONY TO THE HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE
HB 114 Education - Geographic Cost of Education - Requirement
BY: Susan Cochran, President
DATE: February 5, 2014
The League of Women Voters of Maryland recognizes that the primary responsibility for funding public elementary and secondary education lies with the state because our Constitution says that the “General Assembly ...shall by Law establish throughout the State a thorough and efficient System of Free Public Schools; and shall provide by taxation, or otherwise, for their maintenance.” Over the years, we have supported “a foundation program based on a weighted per pupil formula supported from general state revenues at a level high enough to eliminate inequities.” The quality of a child’s education should not depend on the wealth of his jurisdiction.
The Thornton Commission worked relentlessly to develop an aid formula that recognized not only differences in wealth of jurisdictions, but also additional costs to educate economically disadvantaged students and students who need to learn English. Another factor is the difference in the cost of education in higher-cost jurisdictions. The Geographic Cost of Education Index (GCEI) was developed to mandate a formula to account for higher than average costs in certain school districts.
Although we are pleased that GCEI has been funded recently, we believe that this formula should be mandated so that it cannot be reduced in future years.
Therefore, we urge you to give a favorable report to HB 114.