On May 7, Larry Hogan, the Republican governor of Maryland, vetoed legislation that would have ended a 14-year-old lawsuit and would have provided $577 million to the state’s four historically Black universities.
In a letter to legislative leaders, Governor Hogan wrote that the “economic fallout from this pandemic simply makes it impossible to fund any new programs, impose any new tax hikes, nor adopt any legislation having any significant fiscal impact, regardless of the merit of the legislation.”
Students at the HBCUs – Morgan State University, Coppin State University, Bowie State University, and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore – filed the case against the state of Maryland in 2006, on the grounds that the state failed to remove systemic barriers that led to segregation in Maryland’s higher education system. These claims included that the state failed to provide proper funding to their respective schools and also allowed predominately White Maryland institutions to create new degree programs that were duplicative of programs at HBCUs.
In 2018, Governor Hogan said he was willing to dedicate as much as $100 million over 10 years to Maryland HBCUs to settle the lawsuit. Last fall, Governor Hogan made what he said was a “final offer” of $200 million spread over 10 years.
In March, the Democrat-controlled legislature passed a measure that would provide $577 million to the four HBCUs if there was no settlement of the lawsuit by December 1. The bill passed the legislature by veto-proof margins but this was before the full economic impact of the pandemic was apparent. The legislature needs a three-fifths majority to override the veto.