Lawmakers back away from Thornton freeze

April 07, 2009|By Laura Smitherman | Laura Smitherman,laura.smitherman@baltsun.com

State lawmakers have backed off a budget provision that called for freezing part of the landmark Thornton education funding plan in future years.

A cross-chamber conference committee made the decision Monday after a legislative analyst said the move might jeopardize federal stimulus funding, which requires that states maintain certain levels of spending.

Lawmakers are negotiating the final details of the nearly $14 billion annual operating budget and companion legislation that the General Assembly must adopt before it adjourns in a week. The committee must come to an agreement before sending the bill back to the Senate and House of Delegates for final approval.

Some lawmakers advocated including budget language that would restrict education spending in future years as a signal that they were taking seriously the need to contain costs, though such provisions are not binding.

Instead, lawmakers adopted a 1 percent cap on planned education spending growth because of inflation after federal funds run out in two years.

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