Madaleno gives O'Malley a pass on GCEI
Sen. Rich Madaleno, a Montgomery County Democrat and astute budget observer, just sent out a statement on O'Malley's new spending plan. Most of it is the kind of bland, boilerplate congratuations you typically get in these sorts of situations, except for this bit at the end:
Unfortunately, but understandably in this current economic climate, the budget will not wholly fund the GCEI. While we would like to see this program fully funded in the near future, these trying times call for shared sacrifice and I believe the Governor has his eyes firmly fixed on what is in the best, long-term interest of all Maryland's children.”
What Rich is talking about is the "geographic cost of education indexing," an obscure bit of the Thornton education funding formula that has never been fully funded. (Ehrlich ignored it, which O'Malley blasted him for during the campaign. O'Malley skipped it in his first budget, promising to phase it in. He did in his second budget, but then backed away from it in this new proposal.) Most of the extra cash under the plan goes toward Montgomery and Prince George's counties, and the inclusion of the formula was a big factor in winning MoCo votes for Thornton back in 2002. Rich is the head of the county's Senate delegation and tends to be in tune with its members on fiscal issues (notably breaking with O'Malley on the increase to income tax rates for top earners in the 2007 special session), so his willingness to give the governor a pass on this one may be politically significant.