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Glendening Targets Colleges For Scholarships, Aid

By Daniel LeDuc and Peter S. Goodman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, January 8, 1998; Page D05

Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) wants the state to add about $635 million in spending over the next four years to boost scholarship money and significantly increase aid to the state's colleges and universities, officials said yesterday.

In a plan to be unveiled today, Glendening is proposing that the budget for colleges and universities increase by 7 percent to 8 percent a year over the next four years, a rate that would far outpace spending increases during the economic heydays of the 1980s, when budgets increased annually by 4 percent to 5 percent, said state Higher Education Secretary Patricia S. Florestano.

After being hit hard by the recession at the beginning of the 1990s, higher education spending has been inching back up but remains below 1991 levels. Maryland's spending on higher education has been falling in proportion to money for Medicaid and new prisons, but the state's improving economy has made the new initiative possible, Florestano said.

Glendening, a former professor of political science at the University of Maryland at College Park, is to make the announcement this morning at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

The governor has been criticized recently for not providing more money for higher education -- notably at the state's flagship university in College Park. The annual appropriation at the school has grown by only 2 percent a year during the last three years, far below what was called for in 1988 legislation designed to make College Park a premier state university that could compete with the likes of the University of Michigan and the University of North Carolina.

Glendening has tried to pour money into more scholarships and keep tuition down during his tenure. He recently rejected a proposal by state college presidents that would have raised tuition by about 7 percent, saying it was too high.

Yesterday, Judi Scioli, Glendening's spokeswoman, declined to provide details of spending on higher education but said that the governor "will propose a comprehensive plan for higher education that will make the dream of college education accessible to more Maryland students."

One element of the plan is likely to be a scholarship program for students interested in pursuing high-tech jobs in the state, which the governor said last month would be on his agenda this year.

A similar scholarship program failed in the state legislature last year, and House of Delegates Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. (D-Allegany) said yesterday that he was not inclined to support a program for students in technical fields only. But he applauded the governor for devoting more attention to higher education.

Del. Nancy K. Kopp (D-Montgomery), who chairs the Appropriations subcommittee on education and economic development, cheered news of a boost in spending as a significant step toward redressing severe cuts in state support for higher education since the early 1990s.

"It sounds like very good news," she said. "The governor is continuing to put higher education at the top of the agenda. Obviously, we want to see where the money is going."

She predicted that the request for more funds would not have a difficult time moving through the Statehouse. "The state can afford this," Kopp said. "In general, the legislature is quite supportive of higher education."

The news was embraced by presidents on university campuses throughout the state, many of which have shut down programs, postponed improvements and frozen salaries in response to shortfalls in state support.

Freeman Hrabowski III, president of the University of Maryland Baltimore County, said he was particularly pleased because his campus focuses on science and engineering, "disciplines that are very expensive," he said.

Hoke Smith, president of Towson State University, which had to cut its budget by about 25 percent in less than two years during the recession, said he hoped increased funding would allow him to renovate old and ailing buildings. The school expects to see one-third more students in the next five to eight years, he said, and "we need this infusion of money."

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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