Prince George's County lawmakers are expecting to see a change this session in how state education aid is calculated, a move that will result in more funding for the county’s schools.
But one plan being considered by the governor won’t get the job done fast enough, according to the chair of the county’s House delegation.
Education funding is calculated in part using an estimate of each county’s wealth, known as net taxable income –– a sort of financial snapshot taken annually on Sept. 1 using data from federal tax returns. The less-well-off counties receive more school funding.
But such calculations don’t include data from many wealthier residents, who tend to file more complicated returns in mid-October, resulting in a skewed depiction of each county’s wealth that gives affluent counties a larger share of state aid than they deserve, officials say.
Prince George’s lawmakers say that after a plan to fix the formula died during the legislature’s budget collapse last year, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) promised to make the change in this session.
But the most recent proposal floated by the administration won’t immediately grant Prince George’s the additional funding to which it’s entitled –– about $20 million, according to Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Dist. 47) of Cheverly, the county’s delegation chairwoman.
Instead, the state would phase in the funding increase over five years, said Ivey, who discussed the idea with administration staff Friday afternoon.
A spokeswoman for O’Malley could not confirm the details of the governor’s proposal Monday. O’Malley is expected to unveil his proposed budget and legislative package later this week.
The idea of getting 20 percent of the new funding per year rather than the full amount was disappointing, Ivey said.
“It’s money we should be getting,” she said. “It's aggravating.”
Several changes to the net taxable income formula have been proposed over the past few years, including one that would require two wealth estimates to be made –– one on Sept. 1 and one on Nov. 1 –– and allow the counties to keep the greater of the two resulting education aid calculations, according to the Department of Legislative Services.
That change would require about $40 million in additional education funding to be spread among 18 to 20 local school boards each year, according to DLS.
Another past proposal would have changed the calculation date to Nov. 1, meaning more-affluent jurisdictions, such as Montgomery and Baltimore counties, would receive smaller education aid allotments, according to DLS.
Montgomery lawmakers recognize the need to adjust the formula, but don’t want to see a decrease in their funding, said Del. C William Frick (D-Dist. 16) of Bethesda, who chairs the House subcommittee on revenues.
“We’d like to find a way to fix it [that] doesn’t undercut funding in Montgomery or other places,” Frick said.