From the Statehouse: Democrats Fear Education Cuts

By Shawn Massie

Democratic legislators are uneasy over the prospects of reductions in the state’s education spending.

They’re reacting to Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s FY2016 budget proposal. While that indicates a slight spending increase in higher education, experts in historically black colleges and universities say this is expected.

“If you are a part of the University of Maryland’s system, you are protected … you’re a larger group,” said Marybeth Gasman, an expert on HBCUs and a professor of higher education in the graduate school of education at the University of Pennsylvania. “If not…you need a plan.”

Although Hogan is proposing an increase in higher education, the percentage increase would be smaller than it was under his predecessor, Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Last year, O’Malley’s budget called for a 2.7 percent increase to higher education compared to Hogan’s proposed 1.3 percent increase. O’Malley’s increase also kept a cap on tuition.

Hogan has made it clear that he wants to eliminate the state’s deficit.

University of Maryland system officials say spending reductions will be necessary to ensure that the FY2016 UMS budget is balanced.

“State Democrats will have huge concerns … the ability for Marylanders to pay for higher education,” Aisha Braveboy, a former state delegate and an advocate for Maryland’s higher education institutions said.

Braveboy stood at the forefront of the HBCU’s lawsuit challenging state higher education policies as inequitable.

The lawsuit was filed by a coalition that represents the state’s HBCUs. The suit challenged state policies that it said allowed institutions to duplicate programs originated at black institutions. U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake in June ordered the two sides to mediate.

“Maryland is one of the most evasive perpetrators of discrimination in the higher education system in the country, if not the most,” Gasman said.

Morgan President David Wilson emailed to faculty and staff the provisions that would impact the university under the proposal.

“We will make our way through these proposed reductions,” said Wilson. “And will make decisions that we think are least disruptive to the strides we’re making at Morgan.”

 

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