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March 30, 2016

Maryland Lawmakers OK State Funds for Private Schools

Maryland's legislature gave final approval Tuesday to a plan to create a $5 million state grant fund for private-school scholarships, ending a 10-year political battle, The Washington Post reports.

Maryland joins 16 other states that channel taxpayer money to private schools, but most do so through tax breaks for companies or individuals who donate to scholarship programs. The state Senate approved such tax credits, but the overall legislature opted instead for the grant program, included in the $42 billion state operating budget passed Tuesday, which will directly fund scholarships to children from poor families.

The tax credits had been supported by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and his Democratic predecessor, Martin O'Malley, but were staunchly opposed by the state teachers' union and annually blocked by Democratic House Speaker Michael Busch. Lawmakers from Baltimore argued this session that the scholarship aid was needed to help young black men in the city.