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Gov. Larry Hogan Cites 'Economic Turmoil' From Coronavirus As He Vetoes Kirwan, HBCU Funding Among Over 20 Other Bills

ANNAPOLIS (WJZ) -- Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed a number of bills on Thursday, including the Kirwan Commission's Blueprint for Maryland's Future and a bill increasing funding for Maryland's Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) by nearly $580 million.

"As I made clear last month, given these challenges, it would be irresponsible to allow legislation that requires increasing spending to become law," Gov. Hogan said. "I am committed to working with legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle as we confront these difficult budget choices on the road to economic recovery."

The Kirwan plan focused on five policy areas for K-12, including expanding early childhood education such as pre-K and increasing teacher salaries.

Baltimore County elementary school teacher and Maryland State Education Association (MSEA) President Cheryl Bost called the veto a "disappointing but hopefully temporary setback."

It also was meant to include college and career readiness, aid for struggling schools and accountability in implementing new policies.

The measure would phase in the recommendations over ten years and cost billions of dollars.

The General Assembly, which is controlled by Democrats, had weighed revenue measures to pay for the plan, which also will not be signed into law.

Those measures included taxes on tobacco, vaping and digital ads and a sales tax on digital downloads.

The governor said it would be "unconscionable to raise taxes and fees now," referencing the financial hardships brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Brit Kirwan released a statement over the veto:

"I am very disappointed in Governor Hogan's decision to veto the Blueprint for Maryland's Future, especially since the legislature had the foresight to suspend funding for it during the kind of fiscal downturn we are experiencing at the moment. As funding permits, this legislation is designed to close Maryland's achievement gaps and provide world-class schools for every student in the state. If anything, the disparate impact of COVID-19 on low income and minority communities only reinforces the need and moral imperative for the provisions in the bill.  The Governor's decision is especially unfortunate because the bill contains no cost actions that could begin to make a difference in the quality of education our children receive.

The Blueprint bill was a three year process, passed overwhelmingly with strong bipartisan support, and is key to the economic growth of our state. This decision is shortsighted and I hope our leaders in the General Assembly act quickly to override this veto. Our kids can't wait."

Another bill put on pause would fund more than 500 million dollars to Maryland's four historically black colleges and universities.

Gov. Hogan's decisions were met with harsh criticism from his colleagues here in Baltimore and in Annapolis.

"I'm incredibly disappointed," Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson said.

He added:

"There were a number of bills that were not one year fixes. They laid out a vision for the future of Maryland and right now in the middle of this crisis, what we need is that vision for how we're going to get through this and how we can be strong when we recover."

Among the other bills that won't be signed into law is a package of public safety bills addressing crime in Baltimore City.

The governor said while the Senate approved the package by a "wide margin," the House "failed to act upon it and thus failed to meaningfully address violent crime."

There are hundreds of other bills that will become law without the governor's signature, including the Pimlico bill that was up this session.

Speaker Adrienne A. Jones and  responded to the vetos soon after.

"I am extremely disappointed with the Governor's actions today. While we are in the midst of a public health and economic crisis of an extraordinary magnitude, stopping progress on education and school construction puts us even further behind. We know that there are students across this State that are losing millions of hours of learning. The result of this short-sighted action is Maryland will continue to graduate students that are not ready for the real world." -Speaker Adrienne Jones

"I was disappointed to receive notice today of the Governor's vetoes. Throughout this Session, the General Assembly took steps to ensure we left the state with a historically high fund balance and rainy day fund, together with a variety of tools to deal with this crisis. At the same time, we passed legislation that looked to the future of the state, and made certain to pass policies which will help our state emerge strongly from this crisis. With today's actions, instead of setting us on a path to a secure recovery, the Governor is stopping all progress where it stands. Over the next couple of months, we will have conversations with Senate leadership and members, and Speaker Jones to make a determination on next steps. The Governor had a choice today to reject traditional politics and work together to adjust shared visions and build a strong future after this crisis. Instead, he chose to foreclose hope, leaving Maryland families and historically black colleges and universities with an open question for the future." - Senate President Bill Ferguseon said.

For a full list of the bills passed, click here.

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