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Marylanders Back Revamping Public Education, But Say Taxes Too High: Poll

Though a majority of Marylanders support recommendations made by a commission to improve public education, slightly more than half consider state taxes “too high,” a new Goucher College poll shows.

The poll results released Monday show:

• 93 percent agree public schools should offer more job or vocational training programs.
• 85 percent agree the salaries of teachers are too low.
• 76 percent agree many public school buildings are “run-down”
• 69 percent agree public schools don’t receive enough funding.

When it comes to creating new taxes such as digital advertising, which has been proposed by Democratic lawmakers, about 51 percent surveyed believe state taxes are already “too high.” About 44 percent say “it’s about right” with only 3 percent saying taxes are “too low.”

Approximately 54 percent of Black respondents agree taxes are high, the highest percentage among those surveyed based on race.

Gov. Larry Hogan has said he won’t support any new taxes to pay for additional education improvements from the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, also known as the Kirwan Commission, named after former University of Maryland System Chancellor William E. “Brit” Kirwan.

“Marylanders care deeply about public education and are generally supportive of some of these new initiatives to try to improve public education in the state, but they’re also conscience of their tax burden,” said Mileah Kromer, political science professor at Goucher College and director of the school’s Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center. “This really steps up the conflict we see right now between the governor and the General Assembly on this issue. People are behind the merits of Kirwan, but it’s now how to pay for it.”

The education proposal has remained one of the biggest policy plans in this year’s 90-day session in Annapolis.

The commission presented a $4 billion proposal to overhaul the education structure that includes increasing teacher salaries to an annual average of $60,000, tracking and reporting the progress of 10th grade students on college and career readiness, and incorporating counselors and mental health providers in schools with a high concentration of poverty.

A funding formula would increase state spending with the state contributing $2.8 billion and counties and Baltimore City about $1.2 billion for a total for $4 billion.

The formal plan called The Blueprint to Maryland’s Future seeks to push for full implementation by fiscal 2030.

Amazingly, about 69 percent of poll respondents “heard or read nothing at all” about the Kirwan recommendations.

Even with this split between the executive and legislative branches in the state, Hogan remains popular, with the poll showing 62 percent approve of the job he’s doing as governor. Only 20 percent disapprove.

The poll showed crime/criminal justice concerns are the top issue among Maryland adults at 20 percent, followed by education at 17 percent and the economy at 15 percent.

In terms of education, 47 percent rate the state as a “good” or “excellent” in providing a quality K-12 grade education.

“That’s an important part of the Kirwan thing,” Kromer said. “You would like to see a large majority say, ‘No, Maryland is a great place to get a quality education.’ The poll suggests people don’t think it’s that great and want to see improvements happen, but they are also conscious about their pocketbook. It makes a difficult job for lawmakers.”

In other parts of the poll, Marylanders remain divided on sports betting online, with 47 percent approving with 43 percent opposed. About 49 percent don’t support expanding gambling at racetracks, casinos or stadiums, while 45 percent back the plan.

The telephone poll surveyed about 713 Marylanders between Feb. 13-18 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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