The 2021 legislative session has wrapped up in Annapolis.
Democrats overrode a number of vetoes by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan on police and criminal justice reforms as well as education spending.
They overturned Hogan’s veto of the “Kirwan” education plan, which passed last year and will be implemented from 2022 to 2030. Kirwan requires a roughly $4 billion annual budget to be spent on objectives such as increasing teacher pay and funding for lower-income districts focusing as well as establishing more career programs.
We know there needs to be more equity in schools funding across Maryland and the country. But we agree with Hogan’s concerns about paying for the plan.
Throwing money at a challenge or problem is not always the answer. We have seen that play out with other well-intended spending programs ranging from LBJ’s Great Society to our current federal spending plans related to the coronavirus pandemic and infrastructure.
Innovation, creativity and sometimes systematic upheavals are needed to address challenges faced by our communities. New ideas and new approaches are needed.
We also need to focus more closely on our community and personal priorities — including important issues like education as well as mental health and addiction.
State lawmakers also overrode Hogan’s vetoes on a number of police reform bills. We need more transparency into police misconduct and shootings. But we also need more systematic looks at race and class inequities in the entire legal system and not just policing.
There are definite and serious needs for police training in light of the shooting of Daunte Wright in Minnesota. There is much more work to be done with police and criminal justice reforms. That includes addressing rising concerns about the ability to hire and retain “good cops” who are crucial to our communities.
The legislature and our communities have plenty of more work to get done with criminal justice reforms. That includes more resources to deal with mental health and addiction and common sense reforms to drug laws — including marijuana.
Marijuana legalization was left on the table in Annapolis this year even as New York and Virginia passed measures.
Next year’s legalization push needs to also have a focus on community resources, criminal justice reforms and making sure the economic rewards are enjoyed by Maryland growers and small businesses.