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COMMISSION ENDORSES FUNDING INCREASE FOR HIGHER EDUCATION; THREE-YEAR EMERGENCY MEASURE WOULD OFFSET BUDGET CUTS

      COMMISSION ENDORSES FUNDING INCREASE FOR HIGHER EDUCATION;
        THREE-YEAR EMERGENCY MEASURE WOULD OFFSET BUDGET CUTS
    ANNAPOLIS, Md., Nov. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- The Maryland Higher Education Commission today endorsed a funding increase for Maryland's colleges and universities that could add as much as $108 million to hard-hit campus budgets.
    Noting that cuts to higher education budgets have been particularly severe, Secretary of Higher Education Shaila R. Aery said, "Colleges and universities must be allowed time to adjust to the new economic reality in a manner that is in the best interest of Marylanders."
    Aery said the budget cuts threatened to undermine the progress that has been made toward achieving national eminence in higher education in the last three years.
    The secretary said the proposal is being studied by Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who has made higher education one of his administration's highest priorities.
    The funds would come from two sources:
    -- A portion of the corporate income tax that now goes to the Transportation Trust Fund would be used to create the "Maryland Higher Education Fund."  This would provide about $70 million for public, four- year institutions.
    -- Budget cuts at community colleges, which have been particularly hard hit, would be restored by increasing the state's gross receipts tax.  As an example, Aery said approximately $38 million would be raised by increasing the gross receipts tax on gas and electric companies from 2 percent to 3 percent.  These funds would be used for the "Maryland Higher Education Community College Fund."
    Funding for public four-year institutions would be used to continue the priorities established by the governor and the general assembly in 1988.
    The community college fund would be used to compensate for the enormous increase in transfer students enrolled at community colleges. For three years in a row, community colleges have enrolled more first- time, full-time freshmen than Maryland's public four-year institutions.
    In 1988, Schaefer proposed a major reorganization of Maryland higher education.  Funding for Maryland colleges and universities -- and for student financial aid -- was increased dramatically.  Much of that new funding, however, has been cut from the higher education budget as state revenues have fallen.
    With little time to develop cost-saving plans, institutions have imposed large tuition increases, laid off employees, frozen hiring, reduced the number of classes offered and taken other steps to trim budgets.  As a result, both access and program quality have been impaired at a time when higher education is being called on to play a larger role in the state economy.
    -0-                    11/12/91
    /CONTACT:  Jeffrey R. Welsh of the Maryland Higher Education Commission, 410-974-2971/ CO:  Maryland Higher Education Commission ST:  Maryland IN: SU: MK-CC -- PH040 -- 3591 11/12/91 16:03 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 12, 1991
Words:445
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