$635 million boost to Md. colleges to be proposed today Glendening to outline proposal this morning

January 08, 1998|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,SUN STAFF Sun staff writers David Folkenflik, Mike Bowler and Marego Athans contributed to this article.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening is expected to propose today an ambitious $635 million higher education spending plan that would boost state aid to Maryland colleges significantly over the next four years, sources familiar with the initiative said.

The increase would apply to all segments of higher education, including the 11-campus University System of Maryland, other public four-year institutions, community colleges and even private universities that receive state aid, sources said.

The plan calls for increasing state higher education assistance by more than 7 percent next year, with larger boosts in the following three years, sources said.

In addition to the aid increase, Glendening is expected to formally announce his proposal for a state scholarship that would help Maryland college students who meet certain grade requirements and major in science and technology-related fields.

Glendening first outlined the scholarship proposal for science students in early fall but is expected to offer details for the first time today.

The ambitious aid proposal comes days after the resignation announcement of William E. Kirwan as president of the University of Maryland, College Park to become the next president at Ohio State University.

Kirwan said he was leaving to take advantage of a good professional opportunity, but he acknowledged he had been troubled by the level of state support his campus, Maryland's flagship public university, had received in recent years.

State spending on higher education has grown at a relatively modest rate of about 3 percent a year during Glendening's administration.

Aides to the governor declined to discuss details of the new proposal, which was in the works before Kirwan's resignation.

"No one is more committed to improving the quality of and increasing access to higher education," said Judi Scioli, Glendening's press secretary. "That's why he will propose a comprehensive plan for higher education that will make the dream of college education accessible to more Maryland students."

The state spends nearly $900 million on higher education operations and scholarships annually, and about $125 million on campus construction.

The largest chunk goes to the 11-campus University System of Maryland, which spends almost $2 billion a year on operations. Slightly more than $600 million of that, or 30 percent, comes from the state, with the rest made up of tuition, federal and private grants and other sources of income.

The spending plan will be included in the governor's budget for next year, which will be presented to the General Assembly for its consideration this month.

While Glendening has committed to the 7 percent increase in the budget for the first year, the governor and legislators would not be bound to the increases in later years.

The spending plan is reminiscent of a proposal pushed by Gov. William Donald Schaefer in 1988. That called for dramatic increases in spending by the state to help propel the University of Maryland System into the top ranks of public education in the nation.

While Maryland colleges received large boosts for two years, the increases vanished during the recession of the early 1990s.

Scioli, Glendening's press secretary, said his plan comes at a time when the state's finances and economy are in good shape.

"It is significant, and at the same time it's realistic," Scioli said of Glendening's proposal. "It's the right thing to do at the right time."

Donald N. Langenberg, chancellor of the University System of Maryland, and Lance W. Billingsley, chairman of the system's board of regents, declined to comment on the governor's spending plan until it is announced at a news conference this morning.

Langenberg, who was briefed on the proposal yesterday, said: "It's going to be good news."

Pub Date: 1/08/98

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