Highlights from Annapolis

First-term Maryland state senator Bill Ferguson today emailed constituents of the 46th District highlights of the 2011 Legislative Session of the Maryland General Assembly. From the email:

EDUCATION:
Despite having to make deep cuts, we, and others in the Baltimore City Delegation, made it a priority to replace the nearly $17 million cut from Baltimore City Public Schools as was initially proposed in the Governor’s FY 2012 budget. Baltimore City Schools have been making tremendous progress in recent years and such a deep cut would have been devastating to the quality of education for our City’s kids. We restored funds to education that the Governor proposed cutting, so that our students and teachers can continue their progress. As a result, public education will continue to represent 40% of the state’s general fund budget.

In addition, we created a path for utilizing surplus dollars to build new schools and renovate existing school structures. Our kids need safe and modern classrooms to learn to compete in the new global marketplace. As a former teacher in Baltimore City Public Schools, I can say firsthand that for many of our schools are long overdue for much needed upkeep. I was also pleased to sponsor and pass legislation that would give public charter schools the right to occupy existing school buildings if those buildings are no longer needed by the local school board. In addition, this legislation yielded a compromise for an ongoing debate in Annapolis about charter school facility costs by making charter schools exempt from local property taxes when these schools occupy private facilities.

Despite the budget challenges, the legislature was able to protect the $1.2 billion investment in public colleges and Universities, which will help to prevent drastic tuition increases. Keeping public college education affordable is vital to keep our kids learning and able to take the next step into higher education.

Senator Ferguson and his wife are both alumni of Teach for America in Baltimore City. You can find more about Bill Ferguson here.

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