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Maryland governor shows signs of life

Ehrlich Gives Public Colleges a Lift
Private Schools Are Allotted Less Than State Formula Suggests

By David Snyder
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 21, 2005; Page B01

Maryland's public colleges and universities received a boost from Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s budget this week, in the form of a $43 million funding increase that school system leaders say should help rein in soaring tuition costs.

But for the 17 private colleges that receive state dollars, the governor's spending plan represents the fourth straight year that the state has provided significantly less money than recommended by a state formula -- funds that advocates say are vital to the overall well-being of the state's higher education.

Chip DiPaula Jr., Ehrlich's budget secretary, said the state's chronic budget shortfalls in recent years have forced leaders to "focus on its core missions and responsibilities."

The disparity between public and private institutions has opened debate about whether Maryland's decades-long commitment to funding the entire spectrum of higher education institutions is wavering.

If this reporter is going to make declining state support for private colleges in Maryland the focus of the article, he should have given us more details about Maryland's "decades-long commitment" to funding private schools. What is the state formula based upon? Do any other states have formulas like Maryland's?

It seems to me the real "news" here is that Gov. Ehrlich is responding to higher tuitions at public colleges with more state support--a rare thing in this era of state cutbacks. The loud complaining on the part of private schools like Johns Hopkins just blurs the real issue, which is whether our state governments will remain committed to funding their own public institutions.