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USM-H funding threatened again

March 04, 2009|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

ANNAPOLIS -- The University System of Maryland at Hagerstown's funding has been threatened again by the Maryland General Assembly.

But Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, says everyone just "needs to calm down" because the recommendation by a budget analyst with the Department of Legislative Services is likely to fail.

Donoghue said he believes the recommendation, which will be offered today in the House Appropriations Committee, calls for reducing USM-H funding for the coming budget year to $175,000. The campus currently receives about $2 million in state funds.

USM-H Executive Director C. David Warner III said the drop would be enough to shut down the campus.

Last year, as chairman of a House Appropriations subcommittee, Del. John L. Bohanan Jr., D-St. Mary's, pushed to eliminate all $2.1 million for fiscal year 2009 for USM-H and spread it among several non-USM higher-education centers, including one in his district. Under the proposal, USM-H might have received $700,000. The House and Senate negotiated a compromise that restored $2 million to USM-H.

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During a visit to USM-H in January, Bohanan promised not to ask for similar cuts to USM-H funding during the current legislative session. He said Wednesday the Department of Legislative Services "came up with (the recommendation) on their own."

Warner said he planned to attend today's hearing and respond appropriately to the funding proposal.

Warner said he found many errors in the analysis in a preliminary copy of the recommendation. Data on the number of students enrolled and the percentage of students coming from system universities was wrong.

"This would effectively put us out of business," Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, said of the drop in funding.

Donoghue and Munson said they spoke with leadership in both houses of the General Assembly and were confident the funding cuts would fail.

"Sen. Munson and I are working as a team," Donoghue said. "Sen. Munson and I will prevail."

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