MACo to State: Don’t Shortchange Community Colleges

Montgomery County Council Member Craig Rice and Queen Anne’s County Commissioner Jack Wilson, MACo’s Education Subcommittee Chair and Vice Chair, last week sent a letter to Secretary David Brinkley to fully fund Maryland’s community colleges as they continue to pave the way for Marylanders to re-enter the workforce in a post-COVID economy.

craig rice
MACo Education Subcommittee Chair Montgomery County Council Member Rice
Jack Wilson, Jr.
MACo Education Subcommittee Vice Chair Queen Anne’s County Commissioner Wilson

When the Great Recession hit Maryland’s state budget in 2009, the Cade Funding formula, which was designed to achieve equity in financing public higher education, was rebased. The long sought-after policy goal of achieving 29% funding per FTES was pushed out to 2023. As a result, community colleges missed out on any of the state’s revenue growth that has occurred during the longest U.S. economic expansion in post-World War II history.

Also, during this period, from 2009 to 2021, the statutory amount was continually rebased seven times, resulting in a reduction in Cade of over $140 million, further causing harm to Maryland’s most vulnerable student population. Counties have also had to increase their support as a result of the State reducing its funding obligation, adding further strain to limited local resources already stretched thin to fund public schools, public health, public safety, roadway maintenance, and community services.

Leadership on MACo’s Education Subcommittee reached out to the Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management to urge him to provide additional funding for Community Colleges.

From the letter:

Maryland’s counties recognize that community colleges are a valuable strategic asset to our state and local communities. As a partner in helping get Marylanders into the workforce, let us work to achieve a fiscal relationship where the state, the counties, and the students through tuition each pay a third of the cost. When the State falls short, counties simply cannot absorb the full impact and students are left paying the difference.

Most troubling is that ⎯ due to rebasing and reducing community college funding ⎯ the State has pushed the expense onto the most vulnerable in our state at a disproportionate rate from how it finances public senior institutions.

With unemployment rates at an all-time high due to the pandemic, community colleges have proven to be an important driver for our state’s economic recovery by providing training for displaced workers to retool their skills and re-enter the workforce in a different capacity. Similarly, because the pandemic forced many students to return home from their 4-year institutions, community colleges became even more vital by providing necessary educational opportunities and resources close to home so that Maryland’s students can stay on-track for graduation and enter the workforce prepared to address the challenges of these difficult times.

For more information, read the full Community College Funding Letter from Council Member Craig Rice and Commissioner Jack Wilson.

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