Maryland’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities are poised to receive more equitable funding after Gov. Larry Hogan signed landmark legislation on Wednesday afternoon that allocates an additional $577 million to those institutions over a nine-year period.
The majority of the bill’s provisions are contingent upon the enactment of a final settlement agreement in a federal lawsuit that was filed by civil rights organizations in 2006.
The legislation, HB1/SB1 requires the Maryland Higher Education Commission to “establish a certain new unit to assist in evaluating and reviewing certain proposals for new programs and substantial modifications of existing programs.” It mandates that the governor, “in each of fiscal years 2023 through 2032, to include in the annual State operating budget $577,000,000 to be allocated to certain historically black colleges and universities.” The legislation also establishes the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Reserve Fund.
Hogan signed the legislation at a ceremony at Bowie State University. The governor was accompanied by House Speaker Adrienne Jones, who sponsored the legislation, Senate President Bill Ferguson, Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, and the presidents of the state’s three historically black universities.
“We are here to enact an historic, bipartisan measure that will be an unprecedented step forward in addressing inequities in our higher education system by making additional substantial investments in Maryland’s historically Black colleges and universities,” Hogan said at the ceremony.
He added: “In our past seven budgets, we have funded historically Black colleges and universities at historically high levels, providing more than $2.2 billion in state support. No governor in the history of the state has ever invested more in Maryland’s HBCUs. Our administration has advanced more than a billion dollars in major projects at all four HBCUs in Maryland, including for the new Communication, Arts, and Humanities building here at Bowie State.”
Hogan noted the historic nature of the occasion.
“The legislation we are signing into law here today will provide even more critical investments for all these institutions. It also finally brings to an end a more than the 15-year-long legal battle that our administration inherited and that we have spent years working hard to resolve in a fair and equitable manner. With our economic recovery and our much-improved fiscal situation, I am very pleased that we are now able to take this historic action.”
Last year Hogan vetoed legislation that would have provided record funding to the state’s historically black colleges and universities due to fiscal concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic. Twenty-one other bills were also vetoed at that time due to similar concerns.