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University center in trouble

March 15, 2000|By LAURA ERNDE

ANNAPOLIS - Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening threatened Wednesday to yank funding for Hagerstown's education center if legislators insist on a new site selection study.

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"The governor is even more angry than I anticipated," said Del. Sue Hecht, D-Frederick/Washington, after she and Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, met with Glendening late Wednesday afternoon.

Hecht and Donoghue said they'll fight to remove the study requirement, which was added to the budget last week by a Senate subcommittee.

"It's a smack in the face to the governor," Donoghue said.

Glendening in November chose to put the University System of Maryland education center in downtown Hagerstown even though local officials preferred sites near Hagerstown Community College and close to Interstate 70.

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Since then, most elected officials have lined up behind the downtown Baldwin House complex.

But last week a Senate subcommittee reopened the issue by questioning the location.

Sen. Charles M. Middleton, D-Charles, with the support of Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, added the request for a study to Glendening's 2001 budget.

Middleton said he wants the University System of Maryland to give the legislature site comparison information, including student demand at each location, by Oct. 1.

Glendening said Wednesday if the legislature approves the study, he will not put money in his future budgets to build a University System of Maryland education center in Washington County.

"It's important to the governor and it's important to us. It would just be a tragedy not to work this out," Hecht said.

Munson could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening.

But on Tuesday he said he was willing to back off his support for the study if it would hurt the project.

Munson had said he supports the downtown location because "it's the only game in town."

Michael Morrill, Glendening's spokesman, said Munson has not told the governor he is backing off. Because it's a local issue, Munson has the influence to remove the study requirement from the budget.

"He worked to get it in, he can work to get it out. If it's in there, there is no future funding," Morrill said.

The study request is in the capital construction budget, which is being reviewed by Senate and House committees.

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