Students ask Ehrlich to not veto tuition cap

3,000 signatures gathered in College Park, Towson backing Democratic bill

Action unlikely to sway governor

April 29, 2004|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

University student leaders delivered to the governor yesterday petitions urging him not to carry through with his plan to veto a bill that would cap tuition increases by raising the corporate income tax.

The students said at an Annapolis news conference that they had gathered about 3,000 signatures at the University of Maryland, College Park and Towson University campuses in response to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s public vow to block the legislation.

They said they could have gathered thousands more if they had had time to solicit signatures at other campuses.

Raising corporate tax

The bill, pushed through the General Assembly by Democratic legislative leaders, would cap tuition increases at 5 percent a year for the next three years while temporarily raising the corporate income tax rate from 7 percent to 7.7 percent.

Phil Shockley, the student member of the University System of Maryland's Board of Regents, said that without the cap, students would face a 10 percent tuition increase this year on top of double-digit increases last year. He said the legislation represents "a better alternative" by putting more money into higher education.

Shockley, a student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, said recent tuition increases -- partly the result of hefty cuts to the higher education budget -- are forcing students to cut back credit hours and take longer to graduate.

"They're filling a slot someone else could fill," he said.

Work extra jobs

Roberta O'Connell, president of the Student Government Association at Towson, said she and other students have been forced to work extra jobs and cut back on extracurricular activities.

"A lot of students don't have the time to get involved in the college experience," O'Connell said.

The signatures and news conference appear unlikely to sway the governor, who has pledged not to raise income taxes to alleviate the state's budget problems.

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