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Bill proposes taking power away from Board of Public Works

Posted at 6:20 PM, Mar 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-28 18:22:03-04

The Board of Public works meeting was held today, but Governor Hogan and Comptroller Peter Franchot had more on their mind than how to spend the state's money.

They are worried some of those responsibilities may be taken away from them.  

The legislature is trying to push a bill to take decisions about school construction spending away from the Board. A bill has already passed the House without a public hearing and is in the Senate to remove one of the main functions the board oversees.

Legislatures would like to have a panel elected by the Senate President and the House Speaker. The Governor would also have input to the committee.

The current Intragency Committee on School Construction, which has input on school projects would be re-worked to have the final say.

The governor questioned the transparency of the new committee.

"To an unelected, unaccountable group of hand-picked lobbyists, and political donors, and people with conflicts of interests in the school system."

Delegate Maggie McIntosh, who spearheaded this bill in the house, said this committee that meets at the State Board of Education would be transparent.

"They have actually, are in the process almost complete of wiring and putting cameras up so that the State Board of Education can be completely transparent so you can watch it online."

Comptroller Peter Franchot had even harsher words about the testimony of  Delegate McIntosh to the bill.

"Let me just say very clearly, it was a lie told to my former colleagues down on the floor," said Comptroller Franchot.

"I don't lie, I just don't lie," said McIntosh.

Some legislators have questioned the methods used by the Governor and the Comptroller to withhold funding to force some school systems to spend their own money to fix problems.

That includes providing adequate heat and air conditioning, that caused some schools to close during cold spells and heat waves.

"The fact that the legislature would choose now to corrupt a process that has worked effectively and delivered transparency, accountability, and oversight on the expenditures for over 50 years is outrageous," said Governor Hogan.

The Senate is hearing the bill now. The Governor says he would veto the bill if it passes.