Md. Lawmakers Consider Bill on Funding Equity for HBCUs

by: Deborah Bailey Special to the AFRO
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The Maryland Senate is preparing to hear arguments around a measure which would ensure funding equity for the state’s four historically Black colleges and universities.   

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The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee has scheduled a hearing on Tuesday, March 7 for SB 712, the Blount-Rawlings-Britt HBI Comparability Program. The bill would ensure that the four historically Black institutions, or HBIs, receive sufficient funding to be competitive with the state’s other four-year public universities.

The March 7 hearing will be held at 1 p.m. on the Third Floor of the Miller Senate Office Building in Annapolis, Md.

The bill, sponsored by state Senator Joan Carter-Conaway (D – Dist. 43), comes amid the final stages of a lawsuit brought by alumni from the four institutions. A U.S Federal District Court found that the state of Maryland continues to operate a de jure system of segregation in higher education that has disadvantaged HBCU students.

HBCU students and alumni are preparing to travel to Annapolis to testify on behalf of new legislation, which enjoys support from 11 Senate co-sponsors from Baltimore City and County, as well as Montgomery, Prince George’s and Charles counties.  

Morgan State University alum Rashad Stevens said that current students and alumni of the state’s four HBCUs are prepared to convince lawmakers of their point of view.

“We seek to unify in one common place to discuss, advocate, and urge the Maryland General Assembly to pass this particular bill, and any other legislative bill that will advance equity for our beloved Historical Black Colleges and Universities,” Stevens said. “There should be no question or doubt about whether our HBCUs Matter. Rather, the discussion should focus on holding all stakeholders accountable in ensuring our institutions are sustainable and thriving; not diluted through duplication or insufficient funding.”

The legislation requires the Governor to ensure adequate funding for the Maryland Higher Education Commission to equitably distribute funding to historically Black institutions, and holds the Commission responsible for fair distribution of the funds.  

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