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If You Care About Higher Education in Maryland, the Gubernatorial Choice is Clear: O'Malley

Emma Simson
Student Body President, University of Maryland, College Park

Brian S. Bailey
Chairperson, University System of Maryland Student Council

Shavonne Shorter
Student Body President, Frostburg State University

Laura Moore
Graduate Student Body President, University of Maryland, College Park

Devin Ellis
Director of Academic Affairs, University System of Maryland Student Council
Maryland voters who care about public higher education have a clear choice in Tuesday’s race for Governor. They should choose Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley over incumbent Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. if they want Maryland’s universities to be affordable to Maryland’s middle class and working class families. Governor Ehrlich has clearly shown his disdain for our university system when his budget cuts forced 40% increases in in-state tuition. He even attempted to use the budget pie and public higher education’s slice of it as a pawn to bring slot machines to our State.

Governor Ehrlich has slashed school construction funding by $176 million and continually attempts to claim credit for the University of Maryland, College Park’s (UMCP) continued ascension as a premier public university. Those in the know, however, recognize that UMCP’s progress is due to the University’s leadership, not Governor Ehrlich. In contrast, Mayor O’Malley is committed to affordable public higher education for current college students and those that may choose to attend institutions in the University System of Maryland, including the 865,000 students currently enrolled in Maryland’s K-12 schools.

Throughout this campaign season, Governor Ehrlich has proposed no policy plans for public higher education. Mayor O’Malley, on the other hand, has a plan for keeping our universities affordable. Last January, he stood with state legislators in Annapolis to call for the passage of a tuition freeze. His advocacy, the Maryland General Assembly’s passage of the tuition freeze and Governor Ehrlich’s eventual executive signature provided a brief respite for those students and parents who have been enduring outrageous tuition increases annually. In one year, students and parents actually suffered a mid-year tuition increase on top of the initial tuition increase. In addition, O’Malley has proposed State consideration of a funding formula which would allow for efficient planning on the University System of Maryland’s behalf as well as for Maryland families, who must plan ahead for their families’ higher education costs.

Investing in our students and keeping our best and brightest in Maryland is in our best interest. A study published in 2001 indicated that University System of Maryland institutions accounted for billions of dollars in additional revenue to the State through the increased earnings of their graduates and the economic activity generated by out-of-state students and visitors.

If you want to keep our State’s economy growing, keep public higher education within the reach of Maryland’s families, and expand educational opportunities for all, we, student leaders of the University System of Maryland, urge you to cast your vote for our State’s next “Education Governor”—Martin O’Malley.

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This story was published on November 6, 2006.