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Maryland teachers union led spending on lobbying

By BRIAN WITTEJuly 10, 2019

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — The Maryland State Education Association spent the most money on lobbying in the state capital during the latest filing period, as the state’s largest union pushed for major new spending on state schools, according to reports filed with the State Ethics Commission.

The reports covered Nov. 1 through April 30, which includes the state’s annual 90-day legislative session, a high-stakes one for the organization. The session started on Jan. 9 and ended April 8.

MSEA, which represents more than 74,000 educators and school employees who work in Maryland’s public schools, spent about $784,000 on lobbying during a session when the union brought thousands of educators to Annapolis in March to urge lawmakers to increase education funding.

The General Assembly approved legislation in April to begin implementing recommendations by a state commission that has been studying ways to improve the state’s schools. Lawmakers approved spending about $1.1 billion over three years as a down payment on a long-term spending plan. It includes raising teacher pay and implementing programs to help low-income and special education students.

In May, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan announced he would release about $255 million in extra education funding for the fiscal year that began July 1 as part of initial down payment. The legislation went into effect without his signature, after the governor expressed concerns about future spending without fiscal safeguards and accountability.

While the Democrat-controlled General Assembly approved the initial down payment, it’s estimated that the cost of fully implementing the Kirwan Commission’s recommendations would rise to an estimated $3.8 billion a year in a decade for K-12 education. The commission plans to keep working on new funding formulas for state and local contributions. Those formulas were last raised in 2002.

Meanwhile, Baltimore Gas and Electric spent about $606,000 on lobbying during the period, the second-highest amount.

Johns Hopkins Institutions, which successfully pushed for legislation allowing its own armed police force at its academic campuses and main medical campus in Baltimore, spent the third-highest amount of about $531,000.

Pepco Holdings Inc. spent about $502,700, the fourth-highest amount. Northeast Maglev, LLC, which is working to build a high-speed, magnetic levitation train linking Baltimore and Washington, spent about $428,600, the fifth-largest amount.

Lobbyist Gerry Evans was the top-earning lobbyist with more than $2.4 million. Bruce Bereano reported the second-highest amount for the period, with more than $1.9 million. Others in the top five included Tim Perry, who reported about $1.2 million, Michael Johansen, who reported about $1.1 million, and Lisa Harris Jones, who also reported about $1.1 million. Frank Boston was the only other lobbyist to report more than $1 million.

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