County Executive Rushern Baker III
UPPER MARLBORO, Md. – A proposed plan to help turnaround the Prince George’s County school system has been dramatically scaled back.
Through a spokesman, council members declined to comment on the revamped proposal in advance of Thursday’s vote. Before Wednesday, not a single council member had come out in support of the 15 percent tax increase.
Now, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker is instead asking for $65 million to pay for improvements designed to make the struggling school system one of the top 10 in Maryland.
Originally, Baker called for a 15 percent property tax increase to the tune of $133 million to pay for his plan. The new proposal is about half of the original amount, but would still likely require some form of a tax increase.
However, Prince George’s county is consistently in the top 5 spenders amongst large school districts in the country. Many of us don’t think the amount is the problem… the problem is what they are spending it on… and the other parts of the equation – i.e. quality of parenting, home life, value placed on education at home. Lack of transparency and accountability is destroying the county to the ground.
“$65 million is the minimum investment we can make that will move us forward and significantly improve our ranking in the state,” Baker said. “Any investment less than that will not move the needle.”
Baker had repeatedly said the original increase was necessary to improve the county school system. However, some school board members were skeptical about any tax hike.
“If you’re going to have a serious compromise that you want to benefit kids, you can not increase property taxes at all without having a conversation about accountability, transparency and performance metrics. Whether you go halfway or all the way, if you don’t talk about auditing you’re not helping kids,” Edward Burroughs, a Prince George’s County School Board member said.
In addition to scaling back funding, Baker is also suggesting any tax hike for schools should only be temporary. Instead, he’s proposing a tax hike should only last for five years until the MGM Casino and other development projects in the county are completed and begin producing revenue.
While Baker calls the revised plan a comprise, critics call it a last ditch effort in the face of certain defeat. His original plan had no chance of passing the town council, and Baker is running out of time to make good on his promise to make the county school system one of the top 10 in the state in five years.
one blogger asked Mr. Baker to his face where the money was going to go. (See below). However, Mr. Baker did not respond. The problem with politicians like Baker is that they look for the easy way out. Instead of doing an overhaul of education to fix the problems of waste and graft, they just raise taxes and leave the problems to fester. The voters in Maryland are tired of this lazy approach.
The county council will vote at 1 p.m. Thursday on the proposed plan, which council members opted not to comment on Wednesday.