Bill Ferguson

Senate President

Baltimore, MD

Senator Bill Ferguson is the Vice Chair of the Budget and Taxation Committee and Chair of the Education, Business, and Administration Subcommittee. He was elected to the Maryland State Senate in 2010, then becoming the youngest ever-elected State Senator in Maryland’s history. He serves as the State Senator for Maryland’s 46th Legislative District, located entirely within Baltimore City, including neighborhoods in south Baltimore, downtown near and around the Inner Harbor, and southeast Baltimore.

A lifelong Maryland resident, Bill made Baltimore City his home when he joined Teach for America after graduating from Davidson College with a double major in political science and economics. From 2005 to 2007, Bill taught U.S. history and U.S. government to ninth and tenth graders in a breakout academy of one of Baltimore’s most challenged high schools. Senator Ferguson is married to fellow Teach for America alum Lea Ferguson (Baltimore City, ’05). They live in Patterson Park with their son Caleb and daughter Cora.  

Pro-Growth Progressive Ideas Shared

Problem

US Schools are more racially and economically segregated than 40 years ago. In Maryland, the most segregated schools have the highest level of low income students: schools where 99 to 100% of the student population is minority, about 73% of the population is low income. The current education model fails to educate all students adequately and equally, and as a result of the rapidly changing workforce demands, the US could be facing a shortage of up to 95 million high-and-medium-skilled workers by 2020. Additionally, our public schools fail to equip students with next generation skills but instead replicate traditional school models that do not keep up with 21st century demands. Subsequently, academic outcomes are stagnant and generally underperforming. 

Solution

Senator Bill Ferguson introduced legislation that establishes Next Generation Schools in Maryland. These schools provide a rigorous 21st Century education to a diverse student body, while establishing an education innovation community that will stimulate an ecosystem of high-performing school models and will improve Maryland’s education structure. Next Generation Schools proposes to address these problems through the creation of 5 new schools that will innovate education through curriculum, structure and diversity. The schools will allow freedom of curriculum to educate 21st century skills, they will create new learning environments that allow schools to partner with universities, businesses and industry, and they will prepare students to work with people from different economic and cultural backgrounds by encouraging school diversity. Additionally, Next Generation Schools will innovate Maryland’s education system by establishing the Education Development Collaborative (EdCo). EDCo is a 15 member board that acts as an education innovation hub, modeled after Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO), that will leverage philanthropic and federal funds to aggregate and stimulate an ecosystem of 21st century school models with the purpose of studying and implementing evidence-based best practices to develop school curriculum, technology and structures. 


Problem

Investing in a 4-year-old's brain is the single best investment we can make for the longest term return on closing academic and achievement gaps, but it’s been difficult in many places to prioritize funding for preschool and test what works best.

Solution

Senator Ferguson has an innovative solution: “Race to the Tots,” a competitive grant funded by the state lottery that allows local districts to test ideas that demonstrate how expanding access to preschool for low-income families can benefit all of us.


Problem

Opportunity Zones were created as part of the federal tax overhaul by the United States Congress at the end of 2017. The Opportunity Zone program is meant to encourage private investment in underserved communities across the United States by providing federal tax incentives for investors who invest in real estate projects, or operate businesses in these communities. While there is an incentive to invest through reductions, or complete forgiveness of taxes on reinvested capital gains, there are virtually no mechanisms to ensure responsible development written into the federal tax code.

Solution

SB 581 establishes the Opportunity Zone Enhancement Program, to be administered by the Department of Commerce. Qualifying businesses investing in projects located in an opportunity zone may qualify for enhanced incentives under the a number of existing MD tax credit.

Those enhanced incentives are broken down into Level 1 (2.5% increased incentive) and Level 2 (10% increased incentive).
Level 1 Enhancements - Opportunity Zone Funds would have to demonstrate transparency by disclosing key information like the amount and date of investment, address of the project, and progress on qualitative/quantitative benefits the project will provide to the community.
Level 2 Enhancements - Opportunity Zone Fund investment project sponsors must meet Lev