Delegates pass bill to end legislative scholarships

March 13, 1993|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,Staff Writer

The House of Delegates voted overwhelmingly yesterday to abolish one of its most valued political perks -- the state's one-of-a-kind legislative scholarship program.

By a vote of 119-7, the House passed a bill to end the program in which senators and delegates annually hand out $7 million in scholarships to constituents. Critics say the practice is open to abuse and favoritism.

The bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate, whose members have far more scholarship money to distribute than delegates.

"I'm just very, very happy," said Del. Robert H. Kittleman, a Howard County Republican who has been pushing to end the program for the last five years.

The Democratic-controlled House ignored the bill Mr. Kittleman introduced this year, instead passing one offered by Del. Henry B. Heller, D-Montgomery.

To the surprise of many, House Speaker R. Clayton Mitchell Jr. came out for the Heller bill two weeks ago, almost guaranteeing that it would pass.

Mr. Mitchell said that in the face of growing public opposition, the time had come to end the scholarship program.

Critics have contended for years that it is inappropriate for elected officials to hand out the taxpayers' money to any student, no matter how needy.

And persistent media reports have shown that legislators sometimes give awards to relatives, campaign workers and friends.

Lawmakers have also given many grants to students from affluent families in recent years, according to surveys.

But legislators who defend the program say it allows them to give scholarships to needy students, many of them from struggling, middle-class families.

The bill instructs the state's secretary of higher education to report back to the General Assembly by next November with a plan for ending the program.

The bill requires the secretary to ensure that current scholarship recipients would receive money already promised them.

The bill would phase out the legislative scholarships after October 1994.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. has said he wants to keep the program, which, he says, helps middle-class Marylanders.

Many in the Senate, including Mr. Miller, say the House's passage of the bill was something of a political payback to the Senate for passing a bill to end the state's keno gambling game.

Faced with a choice between large budget cuts and expanded state gambling, the House voted to keep the keno game. But some delegates were angry at the Senate for what they said was grandstanding on the gambling issue.

"This is a historic day, the first time a bill to abolish the scholarships has passed either house of the legislature," said Phil Andrews, executive director of the public interest advocacy group Common Cause, which has lobbied heavily against the program.

"The House has done the right thing and recognized that legislators should not be involved in picking scholarship winners," Mr. Andrews said. "It's now incumbent for the Senate to match the House."

Each of the 47 senators have roughly $500,000 in scholarships to distribute over a four-year term. The 141 delegates can award roughly $40,000 during their four-year terms.

Four senators and about 10 delegates now turn their money back to the state scholarship administration to give to needy students.

Maryland is the only state in the nation with a legislative scholarship program.


Here's how the House of Delegates voted yesterday on the bill to abolish legislative scholarships:

.. .. .. .. .. FOR (119) Albin, Leon, D-Baltimore County

Alexander, Gary, D-Prince George's

Anderson, Curtis S., D-Baltimore

Arrington, Michael, D-Prince George's

Astle, John C., D-Anne Arundel

Barve, Kumar, D-Montgomery

Bartenfelder, Joseph, D-Baltimore County

Bell, J. Ernest II, D-St. Mary's

Benson, Joanne C., D-Prince George's

Billings, Leon, D-Montgomery

Bishop, John J., R-Baltimore County

Bozman, Bennett, D-Worcester

Braun, Stephen J., D-Charles

Brewster, Gerry, D-Baltimore County

Cadden, Joan, D-Anne Arundel

Callas, Peter G., D-Washington

Campbell, James W., D-Baltimore

Conroy, Mary A., D-Prince George's

Conway, Norman H., D-Worcester

Counihan, Gene W., D-Montgomery

Cummings, Elijah E., D-Baltimore

Curran, Gerald J., D-Baltimore

Currie, Ulysses, D-Prince George's

Dembrow, Dana Lee, D-Montgomery

DePazzo, Louis L., D-Baltimore County

Dewberry, Thomas E., D-Baltimore County

Donoghue, John P., D-Washington

Doory, Ann Marie, D-Baltimore

Douglass, John, D-Baltimore

Edwards, George C., R-Garrett

Ehrlich, Robert Jr., R-Baltimore County

Elliott, Donald B., R-Frederick

Flanagan, Robert L., R-Howard

Forehand, Jennie M., D-Montgomery

Franchot, Peter, D-Montgomery

Franks, Ronald, R-Queen Anne's

Frosh, Brian E., D-Montgomery

Fry, Donald C., D-Harford

Fulton, Tony E., D-Baltimore

Galiazzo, Connie, D-Baltimore County

Gary, John G., R-Anne Arundel

Genn, Gilbert J., D-Montgomery

Gordon, Michael R., D-Montgomery

Guns, Ronald A., D-Cecil

Harkins, James M., R-Harford

Harrison, Hattie N., D-Baltimore

Hattery, Thomas H., D-Frederick

Healey, Anne, D-Prince George's

Heller, Henry B., D-Montgomery

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