Morgan State tour aims to increase share of funds

Goal is to show need to Senate panel members

August 29, 2002|By Alec MacGillis | Alec MacGillis,SUN STAFF

Frustrated by lawmakers' recent suggestions that Morgan State University has received its fair share of state capital funding, the school's president yesterday invited the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee to campus to show that many needs remain unmet.

All but a few members of the committee - which helps approve funding for Maryland's public colleges - went on the two-hour bus tour of the Northeast Baltimore campus, led by President Earl S. Richardson.

Richardson showed them new buildings constructed with state support - including the new arts center and engineering complex - and buildings that he said badly need to be replaced or renovated.

The tour appeared to impress the lawmakers, who said it showed that Morgan, despite strong state support in the past decade, will need continued high levels of capital funding to make up for earlier neglect.

"Some of these buildings look beautiful, but then you look inside them and you see that they're not adequate," said Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman, a Baltimore Democrat and chairwoman of the Budget and Taxation Committee, who organized the visit at Richardson's invitation.

The tour was prompted by a renewed debate over whether Morgan, the state's flagship historically black university, is adequately funded. In the past 10 years, the 6,000-student school has received about $185 million in state capital funding, placing it in a tie for third among the state's 12 campuses.

In the spring, Richardson and Morgan students sparred with Del. Howard P. Rawlings, a Baltimore Democrat and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, and other delegates over a cut in planning funds for a new Morgan library. In a recent Sun article, Rawlings questioned Morgan's claims of unfair funding, calling them an example of "a victim mentality."

Yesterday, Sen. Robert R. Neall, an Anne Arundel County Democrat, said the tour would help the panel in allocating scant funding in coming years.

"Everyone has their wish list," he said. "You can't do it all at once, so we have to find a way to stage spending and have the most critical needs come first."

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