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Budget passed by Maryland House doesn’t give a BOOST, a boost

The Maryland House of Delegates chamber in Annapolis.
Kristen Mosbrucker
The Maryland House of Delegates chamber in Annapolis.

The Maryland House gave initial approval Thursday morning to Gov. Wes Moore’s first budget. That $63 billion spending plan doesn’t include one of the few major legislative accomplishments of Moore’s Republican predecessor.

The BOOST program allowed private schools to offer scholarships to students in Maryland with public dollars. Former Gov. Larry Hogan championed the program. But the first budget from Moore essentially ends BOOST. Those currently receiving scholarships through it, and their siblings who would be eligible under it, will continue to receive the aid. But there would be no new scholarships under Moore’s budget.

Hogan’s fellow Republicans sought to put $2 million toward the program during floor debate in the House Thursday. Democrats like Del. Stephanie Smith of Baltimore City was able to shut them down, saying public money should go to public schools that serve far more students in Maryland.

“Public schools have to educate everyone that comes through their doors,” Smith told her colleagues. “No matter their condition, no matter their ability, no matter what they’re coming through the doors with…they have to educate you. Private schools get to edit and decide who they want to extend education to.

Once the two budget bills head to the Senate, leading Republicans there are slightly more optimistic they’ll be able to get BOOST funding, as Democratic State Sen. President Bill Ferguson has offered at least some interest in keeping the program.

Matt Bush spent 14 years in public radio prior to coming to WYPR as news director in October 2022. From 2008 to 2016, he worked at Washington D.C.’s NPR affiliate, WAMU, where he was the station’s Maryland reporter. He covered the Maryland General Assembly for six years (alongside several WYPR reporters in the statehouse radio bullpen) as well as both Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. @MattBushMD
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