COLLEGE PARK – Gov. Parris N. Glendening pledged Thursday that education would be spared in next year’s state budget, while all other state agencies would face cuts.
“No department, except for education, will receive an increase in funding,” Glendening said. “We as a staff have decided that there are priorities. Our priorities are clear. The No. 1 priority is education.”
Glendening said K-12 education would receive an increase of 4 percent for fiscal 1997, and higher education a 3 percent increase.
The Democrat chose the University of Maryland College Park, the flagship campus of the University of Maryland System, as the setting to make his education promise.
The audience, filled with former colleagues and students from the governor’s nearly three decades as an associate professor at College Park, listened attentively as Glendening outlined his plans. The crowd was jammed into a lecture hall where Glendening once taught.
“The cuts are coming on the national level,” Glendening said. “Its not just a statement of doom and gloom — it’s a reality.”
Based on a meeting with President Clinton and other federal officials, Glendening said Maryland faced a $300 million decrease in revenue because of cuts expected from the Republican Congress.
Glendening predicted that students would suffer if the cost of education rose significantly.
“I stand before you as governor, and a faculty member before for 27 years, because education was affordable. These doors that were opened for me are being shut out to others,” he said.
University of Maryland College Park President William E. Kirwan, who has recommended a 9.9 percent increase for state residents, said the governor was doing everything he could to keep down the cost of education.
“It was encouraging in the sense that, in the shadow of everyone else receiving cuts, that we are receiving an increase,” Kirwan said.
Glendening, during a question-and-answer period, expressed displeasure with the performance of the Maryland Higher Education Commission, the state agency that oversees all publicly funded colleges and universities in Maryland.
The governor said he would restructure the commission through his appointments, and give it an advisory, rather than a controlling role. Glendening also touched on the College Park campus’s unsuccessful attempt to save a race-based scholarship for African-Americans. He commended the faculty and administration for efforts to help minorities succeed, despite a Supreme Court ruling that the scholarship was unconstitutional. -30-