Bill to waive tuition for higher education workers faces rare defeat

A bill that would waive college tuition for employees of the Maryland Higher Education Commission and their children was handily defeated in the Senate Tuesday morning.

Sen. Joanne Benson

Sen. Joanne Benson

With a 12-33 vote, it was a rare defeat for a bill that had made it so far along in the legislative process.

Sponsored by Sen. Joanne Benson, the Prince George’s County Democrat described her bill as a “deal of fairness” and said she hoped to provide a level playing field for those that work in higher education. Tuition waivers are a perk usually enjoyed by direct employees of a university, whereas the Maryland Higher Education Commission is responsible for establishing policies for the state’s various higher education institutions.

Despite Benson’s intentions, several senators said they did not believe a tuition waiver should be extended to non-university employees.

“You don’t ask a third party who has not employed the people to provide their benefits,” said Sen. Delores Kelley, D-Baltimore County.

Sen. Allan Kittleman, R-Howard, who had proposed several unfriendly amendments in previous sessions — including one to waive tuition for state police officers and their children — cited opposition to the bill from the University System of Maryland and Department of Budget and Management.

The bill was up for a final vote in the Senate on Tuesday morning, meaning it had already been approved by a committee and previously received limited objections from the full body. With the lengthy approval process to get to a final vote, bills are seldom defeated when they get there by such a large margin.

—Justin Snow

About The Author

Len Lazarick

Len Lazarick was the founding editor and publisher of and is currently the president of its nonprofit corporation and chairman of its board He was formerly the State House bureau chief of the daily Baltimore Examiner from its start in April 2006 to its demise in February 2009. He was a copy editor on the national desk of the Washington Post for eight years before that, and has spent decades covering Maryland politics and government.


  1. Jjj

    Ms. Williams – sounds like you have a pretty bad case of sour grapes to me. 


    Sen. Joanne Benson described her bill as a “deal of fairness” – really Senator?  What is it with politician introducing self serving bills?  Sen. Joanne Benson, the Prince George’s County Democrat described her bill as a “deal of fairness” employees of the State of Maryland make enough money.  They can make student loans like the rest of us who sent our kids to college. The people who work for the Maryland Higher Education Commission also have easier access to loan/scholarship money naturally because of where they work.  The rest of us had to figure it out on our own starting with FASFA .  Now as far as the University of Maryland employees go – does anyone here know that there are over 5,100 employees of the University of Maryland who make over 100,000 a year?  Yeah that’s right. And don’t forget about their pension system.   That’s about 2-3 times what the average constituent makes yet they have the luxury of sending their kids to an outstanding unviersity for free.  If O’Malley wants a balanced budget he can start right here – stop with the perks, it’s a start.


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