Yes, There’s a Legal Basis To Continue the School Begathon

If you only read the reporting from the mainstream media, you would think that Governor Larry Hogan and Comptroller Peter Franchot went rogue today at the Board of Public Works meeting;

Defying the General Assembly, Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday that he will continue to require local school superintendents to take part in the Annapolis ritual known as the Begathon.

The annual event compels the leaders of Maryland’s 24 local school districts to appear before the Board of Public Works to justify the money they are seeking from the state. The legislature sought last year to change the process, which has long been the subject of complaints.

Hogan strongly objected. With the support of Democratic Comptroller Peter Franchot, but over the objections of Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp, he directed the board’s secretary to summon the leaders of Maryland’s school districts to Annapolis for the body’s Jan. 25 meeting.

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That is the date of this year’s Begathon, where the board has traditionally spent a full day hearing appeals of decisions made by the Interagency Committee on School Construction about how it has allocated state funds.

Hogan attacked the legislature’s decision to insert a provision in the capital budget bill last year eliminating the requirement that superintendents appear before the board to answer questions.

If you get past the irony of the General Assembly trying to eliminate the transparency of these capital projects, the Sun story notes that a legal opinion deals with this issue.

The governor pointed to an opinion by the board’s counsel saying it may continue to seek information from superintendents. The opinion said the legislature curbed school systems’ right to appeal decisions by the committee but not the board’s power to oversee the program.

“Anyone who thinks they can just take away that authority on a whim is gravely mistaken,” Hogan said.

Hilariously, on audio recorded by WBAL’s Robert Lang, Senate President Mike Miller says that the General Assembly did not intend to take power away from BPW despite the language and thinks that the government that governs best is at the local level.

So who’s right? Well, Red Maryland has received a copy of the Memorandum signed out by the Board of Public Works Executive Secretary and the BPW Legal Counsel.

It’s clear that there is a legal basis for the Board of Public Works to continue the so-called Begathon in order to fulfill their duties to the people and the taxpayers of Maryland. While the Democrats may gnash their teeth, BPW owes it to all of us to have these hearings and to hear the plans of money being outlayed by state taxpayers.

Listen to this week’s Red Maryland News Hour for full coverage of this week’s BPW meeting.

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