Lawmakers Send HBCU Funding Bill to Governor’s Desk

    House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County). Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

    Lawmakers sent a $577 million funding bill aimed at settling a long-running dispute over resources at Maryland’s historically Black colleges and universities to Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) on Wednesday.

    The House of Delegates approved the measure sponsored by Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) by a vote of 120-14 Wednesday evening. The bill passed the Senate — where 38 senators signed on as cosponsors to Baltimore County Sen. Charles E. Sydnor III’s cross-filed bill — unanimously earlier in the day.

    The bill, which is similar to a measure passed by the legislature and vetoed by Hogan last year, would direct the additional $577 million to Maryland’s four HBCUs — Coppin State University, Morgan State University, Bowie State University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore — over the course of a decade.

    Hogan vetoed the 2020 bill, along with dozens of others, during the first wave of COVID-19 illnesses in Maryland, citing unprecedented economic pressures.

    To account for pandemic-related funding concerns, the first allocation under this year’s bill would begin in the 2023 fiscal year.

    If signed, the bill would end a lawsuit first filed in 2006 by a coalition of HBCU advocates and alumni who argued that the state had underfunded its four historically Black institutions and undercut their ability to attract students by allowing traditionally white universities to duplicate programs offered at HBCUs.

    In 2013, a federal judge ruled that program duplication had, in effect, perpetuated segregation in the state’s colleges, and the state and coalition have been negotiating a financial settlement since.

    Editor’s Note: This story was updated to include the Senate vote on the bill. 

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    Danielle E. Gaines
    Danielle Gaines covered government and politics for Maryland Matters for two years before moving into an editing position. Previously, she spent six years at The Frederick News-Post ― as the paper’s principal government and politics reporter for half that time, covering courts and legal affairs before that. She also reported for the now-defunct The Gazette of Politics and Business in Maryland and previously worked as a county government and education reporter at The Merced Sun-Star in California’s Central Valley.