The Fix Is In Again

Predestined results are afoot again in the Kirwan Commission.

In October 2017, I wrote:

The political outcomes of the Kirwan Commission were never in doubt because the political outcomes were baked into its creation. Why else would the commission makeup be appointees from the Senate President, the Speaker of the House, the Superintendent of Schools, and six educational unions.

That’s pretty much the same reaction I had yesterday when the members of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Funding Formula Workgroup were announced earlier this week, as Maryland Matters reports:

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Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) and House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) announced the 13-member Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Funding Formula Workgroup on Wednesday….

The members of the workgroup are:

  • William E. “Brit” Kirwan, chairman of the Kirwan Commission and former chancellor of the University System of Maryland
  • Harford County Executive Barry Glassman
  • Former senator Joan Carter Conway, who chaired the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee
  • Matt Gallagher, president of the Goldseker Foundation and former chief of staff to Gov. Martin O’Malley
  • Sean Johnson, assistant executive director of the Maryland State Educators Association
  • Richard Madaleno, Montgomery County’s budget director and former vice chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee
  • Alvin Thornton, chairman of the Prince George’s County Board of Education
  • Del. Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore City), chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee
  • Sen. Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City), vice chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee
  • Eloise Foster, former Maryland budget secretary
  • Cheryl Pasteur, former principal and member of the Baltimore County Board of Education
  • Monique Davis, assistant superintendent for Anne Arundel County Public Schools and former deputy superintendent for Prince George’s County Public Schools
  • Budget Secretary David Brinkley, appointee for Hogan

So the workgroup is comprised of the guy who’s name is on the commission, the guy whose name was on the *last* commission (Thronton), the highly-paid hatchet man for the Teacher’s Union who thinks that being a progressive political player is more important than teachers or students (Johnson), three current or former State Senators with a penchant for high-spending and fuzzy math (Conway, Madaleno, and Ferguson), a former O’Malley cabinet secretary who was nabbed for DUI while secretary (Foster), O’Malley’s former Chief of Staff who was tied up in the State Center fiasco (Gallagher), and two professional educators.

Eleven of the thirteen working group members are either professional Democrats or professional educators. The same commission members also provide a perspective that would tend to benefit the large urban counties. Only two members, County Executive Glassman and Secretary Brinkley, provide a different perspective other than the one that exists in the Democratic bubble. Not only are they both Republicans, but they are the only members of the working group who live outside of the Big Five counties or Baltimore City.

So, spoiler alert: this working group is going to come up with a funding formula that disproportionately helps big counties at the expense of smaller, rural counties. Additionally, they are going to create a funding formula that completely blows out the state budget, a formula so extreme that they will end up proposing massive tax increases to cover the cost.

What’s damning about all of this is that the funding formula that will do nothing to improve the plight of state students without serious structural reforms regarding accountability and consequences.

But again, all of this is baked into the cake. There will never be reforms implementing accountability and consequences because the MSEA will never allow Democrats to implement them. There will be proposals for massive tax hikes because legislative leadership appointed working group members predisposed to high-spending and higher taxes. At no point has the fact that Maryland’s middle and working-class residents can’t afford yet another tax increase, because Democrats only care about appeasing the teacher’s union and the teacher’s union only cares about their bottom line.

If you wonder why we’re in this vicious cycle, going from failing schools to a new commission back to failing schools and back to a new commission, this is why. Democrats don’t find that a bug, they find it a feature because it gives them an excuse to continue jacking up taxes and keeping their union supporters happy. Just another example of Democrats prioritizing politics over kids.

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