ANNAPOLIS -- Gov. William Donald Schaefer said yesterday that he understands student frustration with budget cuts to state colleges and universities but that it is premature to be talking about raising taxes to avert such cuts.
"To pick one area without looking at the whole fiscal picture is premature," said Mr. Schaefer, responding to questions about proposals floated Tuesday to shift gasoline tax revenues or higher taxes on utilities to higher education.
"I'm extremely sympathetic to the plight of higher education," Mr. Schaefer said, saying it has been and remains one of the highest priorities of his administration.
But the governor said that as long as the public opposes the idea of raising taxes, he has an obligation to keep the state budget in balance, which means reducing spending to reflect recessionary declines in revenue.
Higher education has to share in those reductions along with every other agency of government, he said.
"I know what is needed" he said. "But what we need and what we're able to do are different things".
A group of Prince George's County legislators who represent the district that includes College Park proposed Tuesday that $38 million in corporate income tax revenue destined for the Transportation Trust Fund be sent, instead, to Maryland's 11 four-year colleges and universities.
Another legislator, Delegate Henry B. Heller, D-Montgomery, offered a separate proposal to raise the gross receipts tax on gas and electric utilities to collect about $38 million for community colleges.