Picking up from where we left off in last week's edition, the Friday afternoon hearing for the Maryland Education Credit, was temporarily delayed due to the House of Delegates debate and subsequent vote on the minimum wage increase that has been a topic of note this session. Thankfully, the debate ended with enough time left on Friday to actively participate in the hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee.
Agudath Israel testified in support of this vital measure which would provide scholarships for nonpublic school students generated by corporate tax credits. Joining in the hearing to testify in support of the measure was junior lobbyist, Miss Miriam Sadwin, a sixth grader at the Rabbi Benjamin Steinberg Middle School at Bais Yaakov of Baltimore. Miriam's testimony highlighted the indispensable role that donations play in sustaining nonpublic schools. Adding tax incentives for corporations would surely help bolster those donations exponentially. This year's version of the Maryland Education Credit bill added further accountability measures as well as an expansion for pre-K students.
On Tuesday, the Education Subcommittee of House Appropriations held their hearing for the school construction funding in the Governor's budget. In the 2013 legislative session, funding was extended to nonpublic schools for building improvements and security upgrades. The program was put into effect and the $3.5 million allocated was distributed among the same schools that participate in the nonpublic textbook program. The 2014 budget includes the same $3.5 million allocation, but has garnered more opposition by those opposed to the funding. Agudath Israel provided testimony in support of the allocation, which we hope will be an annual funding item for which the nonpublic schools can count on.