The Senate approved full funding for USM-H at about $2.1 million for fiscal year 2009.
The House approved $1 million, plus about $700,000 that's possible through the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC), but not guaranteed.
The extra $1 million would be taken from USM's main office. The loss will lead to "massive layoffs," according to Chancellor William E. Kirwan.
The $1 million was secured through a budget amendment by Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington.
The move came after a House subcommittee diverted USM-H's $2.1 million budget to MHEC to distribute among several centers, including Hagerstown's.
Del. John L. Bohanan Jr., D-St. Mary's, the subcommittee chairman, said at the time that non-USM centers, including one in his district, shouldn't share a fraction of the funding USM centers in Hagerstown and Rockville get.
"I think that's a viable question ...," House Speaker Michael E. Busch, D-Anne Arundel, said Wednesday. "The question as John Bohanan saw it is, Why is there a difference? And I think people should have to articulate that."
In the end, the differences might be justified, Busch said.
"Thank God you got John Donoghue up here," he added, "or you wouldn't have been in the budget."
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, D-Calvert/Prince George's, has said USM-H's $2.1 million budget should be restored.
Defenders say USM-H, which opened in 2005, wasn't meant to generate outside revenue like other centers do and can't be compared.
"The center at Hagerstown is a state-owned facility," Kirwan said Wednesday. "Roughly half the money goes just to paying the costs of running it. Other regional centers aren't owned by the state .... That point has not been emphasized enough."
Kirwan said he and Patrick J. "P.J." Hogan, USM's associate vice chancellor for government relations, are urging lawmakers to focus on the issue.
Kirwan said he supports more funding for non-USM centers, but not at USM's expense.
Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., the chairman of Washington County's delegation, said a push for steadier funding is under way, even beyond the letter he sent the governor.
"I feel that the million dollars in the House (budget) is now a short-term solution," he said. "We want to make sure this doesn't keep happening."