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Munson responds to university flap

March 17, 2000|By LAURA ERNDE

ANNAPOLIS - Sen. Don Munson said he's confident that Hagerstown won't lose the University System of Maryland education center.

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"The sky is not falling. Cooler heads seem to be prevailing," Munson, R-Washington, said Thursday.

On Wednesday, Gov. Parris Glendening told Del. John Donoghue, D-Washington, and Del. Sue Hecht, D-Frederick/Washington, that he would cut the project unless a site comparison study was removed from the 2001 budget.

Procedurally, it's too late for Munson to amend it out of the budget, which the Senate is scheduled to vote on today.

Hecht said her subcommittee in the House of Delegates has removed the study requirement from the budget.

Ultimately, the issue will have to be resolved by a conference committee, which will be appointed after each chamber passes the budget.

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"We know that the senator will support our side," Hecht said. "I feel much better than I did."

Munson said he has been talking to members of the governor's staff to resolve the concerns, which he believes have been overblown.

Munson said he's willing to do whatever is necessary to save the project.

The governor is satisfied with Munson's efforts so far, said his spokesman Michael Morrill. But Glendening expects Munson, who had supported the study, to work on taking it out in conference committee.

In November, Glendening chose to put the University System center in downtown Hagerstown, despite the wishes of local elected officials who preferred sites near Hagerstown Community College and Interstate 70.

Last week, a Senate subcommittee reopened the issue by questioning the location.

Sen. Charles Middleton, D-Charles, with Munson's support, added the study request.

The request asks the University System to give site comparison information, including student demand at each location, to the legislature by Oct. 1.

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