In what is turning out to be a major fiasco in Maryland, Governor Larry Hogan is going after the corrupt education officials where it hurts the most. This time, he appears not to leave anything to chance. With major decisions expected soon from the commission proposing big increases to Maryland education funding, Gov. Larry Hogan is gearing for a major fight against the plans with a high-dollar fundraiser for his political lobbying organization at Live! Casino & Hotel Maryland.
An advertisement for today’s Nov. 7 event, called the “Governor’s Gala,” features a large photo of Hogan and encourages guests to purchase VIP tables for $25,000 each.
“There is no limit on the amount that you can donate to Change Maryland Action Fund,” the ad states.
Under Maryland law, donors may not give more than $6,000 directly to Hogan as a candidate per campaign cycle, and those donations must be disclosed. However, those rules are broken regularly in Prince George’s County. Also, state law prohibits casino owners from donating to a candidate.
But Hogan’s event at the Hanover casino owned by businessman David S. Cordish falls outside those laws and it creates a loop hole, because the governor’s political lobbying arms ― Change Maryland Inc. and Change Maryland Action Fund ― are not technically functions of his individual campaign committee.
However, tonight Thursday, Nov. 7 Maryland teachers and supporters will protest this fundraiser being held by Republican Governor Larry Hogan aimed at fighting increased spending on public schools as part of high drama.
The term-limited Governor who frequently spars with teachers unions and has even called them “thugs,” is working through, Change Maryland Action Fund, a Super PAC, courting wealthy donors to build a two million dollar war chest, funding lobbying efforts and a PR campaign to turn public opinion against a plan to dramatically boost education spending throughout Maryland. Hogan has said the plan to equitably fund public schools “is outrageous pandering to special interest groups.” However, Hogan has been given proof of public corruption involving some of these organizations and has failed to address the grievances only choosing to look the other way after serious issues have been presented to him.
Diamonté Brown, president of the Baltimore Teachers Union, is one of many attending the protest.
“Governor Hogan may want to learn a lesson from Kentucky’s recent election about what happens to the political careers of governors who choose to make public schools, teachers, and the students they serve their enemies,” Brown said.
Hogan has maintained he has budgeted “record” funding for public education, and that schools are not underfunded, rather plagued by rampant mismanagement—a common Republican talking point. But a state panel known as the Kirwan Commission tasked with studying how to make the state’s schools competitive in the 21st century found schools are underfunded by $2.9 billion each year.
“It’s important for folks in Maryland to see what this governor is really up to—shameful,” said Rob Helfenbein, Associate Dean of Education at Loyola University. “We know that children deserve access to high quality pre-kindergarten programs. We know that Baltimore City has been repeatedly underfunded and underserved by the state.”
Democrats have vowed to pass Kirwan without large tax increases, and can point to broad public support. A recent Goucher College Poll found 70% of those surveyed believe the state spends “too little” on public education, with 74% saying they “support personally paying more in taxes to improve public education.”
In 2008, Maryland voters approved Casinos with the promise their revenue would give a big boost to schools. But that money never actually reached classrooms and instead only supplanted existing funding. Voters finally approved a new ballot measure in 2018 that phased in that increased revenue to schools, amounting to hundreds of millions a year through 2022.
Hogan has claimed that funding Kirwan would mean “a 535% increase to property taxes”, or would cost families “$6,200 in additional taxes per year,” statements even The Sun’s editorial board (who endorsed Hogan) called “alternative facts.”
“It’s disappointing that Governor Hogan is focused on misinformation, scare tactics, and raising dark money from wealthy donors rather than rolling up his sleeves to help lead on this once-in-a-generation opportunity to make sure that every student in every neighborhood has a great public school,” said Adam Mendelson, a spokesperson for the Maryland State Education Association (MSEA), the state’s largest teachers union.
One of the wealthiest states in the country, Maryland schools are marked by stark disparities; the state spends 4.9% on lower income school districts than wealthier ones, the Kirwan Commission found. Its recommendations include expanding Pre-K, increasing teacher pay, and ensuring all students are college and career ready before they graduate. The plan comes with a nearly four billion a year price tag to be phased in by 2030, through increases to both local and state contributions.
Hogan has repeatedly lashed out at the Commission’s recommendations, calling it the “Kirwan Tax-Hike Commission”: “We cannot recklessly expand the state’s deficit to $18.7 billion, as the Kirwan Tax Hike Commission’s proposals require,” Hogan recently posted on Facebook. “And we absolutely will not impose billions in crippling state and local tax increases on Marylanders.” Cleaning up Maryland’s tax code and closing corporate tax loopholes could raise close to $2 billion a year towards funding Kirwan, The Maryland Center on Economic Policy argued in a recent report.
Before becoming Governor, Hogan served as a director for the Maryland Public Policy Institute, a libertarian think-tank, that’s been described as the “policy-arm” of his administration. As reported by the Beat, MPPI’s members frequently appear on outlets like Baltimore Sinclair-affiliate Fox 45, to make the case that privatization, not increased funding will help underperforming schools.
“It is a disgrace that Hogan prefers to throw a party with the 1% to raise money against the children of Maryland,” said Khalilah Harris, Managing Director, K-12 Education Policy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, and a former Real News Executive Producer.
The Gov.’s office has yet to respond to a comment on these allegations.
In the meantime, senior official of Prince George’s County are not doing any better, there is evidence that Dr. Thornton (the new Board of Education Chairman) his role is driven by dirty politics in order cover up misconduct within the Prince George’s county public schools and in Maryland. These are the rampant mismanagement Governor Larry Hogan is talking about. Indeed, long before County Executive Alsobrooks made the announcement for Mr. Thornton to be the new PGCPS new Board Chair, this troubling revelation was already known. Dr. Thornton has links to the current President of Prince George’s County Community College, Dr. Charlene Dukes, who endorsed wrongful terminations after she was awarded about $10 million to start a charter school within the Prince George’s County community college when hearing concerning PGCPS corruption was in progress. This malicious activity was part of quid pro quo. A Motion to recuse her due to many conflicts of interests requesting her to step aside was presented to her and she refused. Dr. Thornton has strong links too with the Maryland State Education Association officers who interfered with arbitration and the lawyers whom employees had hired to represent them but were compromised during County Executive Alsobrooks tenure as the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney.
In fact, there is strong evidence, Dr. Monica Goldson current CEO for Prince George’s County advanced corruption for years! Since the exposure of her illegal activities, Goldson has since scheduled three meetings where she only takes notes, she did not respond to the concerns expressed by employees, parents and others in these meetings. They say it was a listening session. #DespotsMustFall
The cover ups of public corruption in Maryland is ongoing. In this kind of situation, both sides are not helping with the situation to secure the funding or save it for other projects due to the shenanigans’ involved.