The Maryland Senate tacked in a conservative direction last week when it voted 25-18 to allow corporations to write off their taxes 60% of donations to authorized private school voucher programs. The Department of Commerce can award up to $15 million in credits to qualifying businesses per year.
The Department of Legislative Services estimates that it will cost an additional $140,355 to implement the program and then $108,400 annually to administer it beyond the ongoing $15 million in revenue lost to the State’s General Fund.
All Senate Republicans voted for the bill. Among Democrats, 19 voted against the bill while 11 supported the legislation. Democrats who voted for the bill are:
Miller (D-27, Prince George’s, Charles and Calvert)
Astle (D-30, Anne Arundel)
Brochin (D-42, Baltimore County)
Currie (D-25, Prince George’s)
DeGrange (D-32, Anne Arundel)
Mathias (D-38, Somerset, Worcester and Wicomico)
McFadden (D-45, Baltimore City)
Middleton (D-28, Charles)
Muse (D-26, Prince George’s)
Peters (D-23, Prince George’s)
Zirkin (D-11, Baltimore County)
The bill is supported by Governor Larry Hogan and Senate President Mike Miller. The Maryland State Education Association (MSEA) strongly opposes it.
Who Will Get the Extra Funding?
The short answer is not the public schools. MSEA also points out that the program allows corporations, rather than parents or school boards, to decide which schools get the donations. It remains unclear whether the money will allow more poor kids to attend private schools, as advocates claim, or help subsidize kids who already attend them at the expense of public schools.
At this point, the bill’s fate is up to the House of Delegates.