Dear University of Maryland Community,
The Maryland General Assembly concluded its 444th legislative session on Monday, April 11 at midnight, continuing its strong commitment to higher education, particularly through student support, including financial aid, campus initiatives and infrastructure.
Operating BudgetThe General Assembly adopted Governor Larry Hogan's budget for public higher education as introduced, including the restoration of cuts to the University System of Maryland's (USM) budget made in July 2020. This amounts to an approximate $41M base budget increase. The final budget also includes a $20M increase to USM for need-based financial aid, $8M to the Maryland Higher Education Commission and Maryland College Aid Processing System for upgraded financial aid systems to greatly improve the student experience, and full funding for University of Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State programs.
The budget also includes nearly $200M for increases to USM employee compensation, something for which we advocated strongly. In addition to January's Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA), one-time bonus and merit, an additional 3& COLA and merit pool was approved for July 2022.
Capital BudgetThis year's Capital Budget funds a number of key projects that will advance our academic and research enterprise, support our students and community, and enhance our existing campus infrastructure. Totaling more than $118M in funding, these projects include the construction of the new chemistry building, planning for an interdisciplinary engineering building, the completion of the research and academic wing of Cole Field House, quantum infrastructure, new graduate student housing, a community preservation trust as part of the College Park City-University Partnership, and campus facilities renewal projects.
LegislationThe General Assembly passed a number of bills this session related directly to the University of Maryland and higher education more broadly. We made it a priority this year to focus advocacy efforts around financial aid, and I am pleased that the General Assembly passed several bills aimed at increasing need-based financial aid, and improving the systems and processes that manage and disburse aid to applicants, including:
- HB734 - Maryland Student Investment Act: This bill adds $30M in funding to need-based financial programs and makes several changes to improve the programs and expand access for students in need.
- SB501/HB1030 - Maryland Higher Education Commission - Procedures - Alterations: In addition to increasing the amount of need-based financial aid available to Maryland students, the General Assembly adopted SB501 which mandates that MHEC release its award decisions by April 15, as opposed to the current date of May 1, giving families more time to make well-informed decisions.
The General Assembly also passed a number of bills supporting campus programs and initiatives. These bills further demonstrate UMD's flagship role as a statewide resource to address pressing issues from agriculture to public health.
- HB511 - Institute of Public Leadership: This bill establishes an Institute for Public Leadership in the School of Public Policy and funding for five years to establish the institute.
- HB540/SB437 - University of Maryland Extension - Urban Farmer Assistance: This bill creates and funds two new University of Maryland Extension positions devoted to supporting urban agriculture.
- HB1082 - Public Health - Consumer Health Information - Hub and Requirements: This bill designates UMD's Herschel S. Horowitz Center for Health Literacy in the School of Public Health as the state's Consumer Health Information Hub. The new hub will promote the use of "plain language" by state agencies in public communications about health, health insurance, safety and social services benefits.
- SB14 - Sustainable Maryland Program Fund - Establishment: This bill funds and enhances the Sustainable Maryland Program in the School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation. Sustainable Maryland supports communities in Maryland in their efforts to realize environment, economic, and social sustainability.
My gratitudeWe are grateful to Governor Hogan, the General Assembly and staff for their dedication to make this a productive legislative session addressing important higher education issues.
Thank you to all of our community members on campus and beyond who advocated for our university in Annapolis, including USM officials; faculty, staff, students and administrators; our Alumni Association; and our UMCP Foundation Board of Trustees. I would also like to specifically commend Ross Stern, Executive Director of Government Relations, and his team of Virginia Meehan and Molly McKee-Seabrook. None of this would've been possible without their tireless advocacy this session. Our collective and ongoing commitment to advancing the state's flagship institution has led to another successful year and leaves me with continued optimism for our future.