Maryland introduces $3.5B school construction initiative
- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday announced a five-year, $3.5 billion state program of school construction. He will send the Building Opportunity Act, which would contribute $1.9 billion of the total, to the state General Assembly at the start of its 2019 session.
- The proposed act's Building Opportunity Fund would use revenue bonds backed by casino gaming proceeds to pay for projects, a funding mechanism for "public school construction and public school capital improvement" approved by 90% of Maryland voters last month and that should generate $4.4 billion over time. The $1.9 billion would be in addition to the $1.6 billion earmarked for public school construction in the state’s five-year Capital Improvement program.
- If Maryland lawmakers pass the act, the state could pay for 90% of projects requested at the local school level from 2020 to 2024, and construction activity would create 27,000 indirect and direct jobs. The program, which would be overseen by the Maryland Stadium Authority, is modeled after the City of Baltimore’s $60 million 21st Century School Buildings Program, which has delivered nine school renovations, with 19 more in progress. “Education has always been our administration’s top priority,” Hogan said, "and today’s announcement represents the largest investment in school construction — ever — in Maryland history."
School construction and renovations have become a niche for many contractors, and voters in several states this November handed them even more work by approving bond programs for their districts.
In Arizona, voters said “yes” to 77% of school funding-related measures on the ballot. Arizonans approved seven of 12 bond proposals, which added up to $529 million and will pay for specific school construction projects. Voters also said yes to 19 of 24 overrides, which provide money for maintenance and operations.
Davis, California, voters also approved a school bond, which will provide $150 million for elementary, middle and high school improvements. The Davis Joint Unified School District will use some of the proceeds to update 50-year-old classrooms, replace old electrical and plumbing systems and make seismic safety upgrades.
Washington's Spokane School District will use money from a $495 billion capital bond approved by voters to build six middle schools, each costing approximately $60 million. The program will also pay for other improvements and upgrades, including a new cafeteria and common areas at one of Spokane’s high schools.
However, there were some measures that missed the mark with locals. Despite garnering 55% of the votes, a $443 million Bethel, Washington, measure was unsuccessful because state law requires 60% approval. That money would have gone toward a new high school, two new elementary schools and renovations at four other schools.
- Office of Governor Larry Hogan Governor Larry Hogan Announces Over $3.5 Billion “Building Opportunity Fund” School Construction Initiative
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