Maryland Speaker Urges Governor to Settle HBCUs Lawsuit - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Maryland Speaker Urges Governor to Settle HBCUs Lawsuit

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP)- Maryland House Speaker Adrienne Jones is urging Gov. Larry Hogan to more than double his offer of $200 million to settle a long-running lawsuit involving four historically black colleges. Hogan said Wednesday the legislature can try to find the additional money in the state's budget process early next year.
 
Jones called on Hogan to raise his offer to $577 million, the amount recommended by an attorney representing the HBCUs to settle the 13-year-old lawsuit over disparities in programs.
 
Jones wrote that the money could be used to develop new programming, hire faculty and expand the reach of scholarships.
 
"This has been a stain on the national reputation of Maryland's higher education system," Jones, a Democrat, wrote of the ongoing dispute in a letter to the governor. "We can work to support many students at these institutions with additional funding from the lawsuit."
 
In a letter to Jones on Wednesday, Hogan said his administration has worked across the political aisle to fund HBCUs at historically high levels over the last five years. He also noted his latest offer of $200 million is double the one he made last year.
 
The Republican governor also said he has a responsibility to protect the state budget, as Maryland faces the prospect of a national economic downturn. He also noted a push by state lawmakers to increase spending on K-12 education by billions of dollars over the next decade.
 
Hogan suggested lawmakers look for the money next year.
 
"As we approach the upcoming budget process, it is certainly within the purview of you and your colleagues to attempt to find ways to fund a settlement at the levels you are seeking," Hogan wrote.
 
The colleges say the state underfunded them while developing programs at traditionally white schools. A federal judge ruled in favor of the HBCUs in 2013, saying the state unnecessarily duplicated programs.
 
Earlier this year, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a fourth attempt at mediation.
 
Maryland's four historically black colleges are Bowie State University, Coppin State University, Morgan State University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
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