UMD Students Rally Against “Doomsday” State Budget

University system stands to lose $50 million

Backlash against Maryland's so-called "doomsday" budget stretched to College Park Thursday, as students held a rally to protest impending cuts in education funding.

It came a day after the State Education Association turned on a clock that is ticking down to July 1 -- when $500 million in cuts will kick in.

Of those cuts, $50 million will be coming from the Maryland university system, which students said Thursday will amount to a 10 percent tuition increase for students next year.

"You're going to be paying about $800 more," one student told his fellow in-state undergrads at the rally, adding that the hike for out-of-state students will be $2,600.

Another student, named Rosa, who told the crowd about losing her father earlier this year to pancreatic cancer, spoke about the burden tuition increases would put on her already-struggling family.

"Some say, 'It's only $800, Rosa,'" she said. "But $800 means 800 new doubts, 800 new uncertainties, 800 new concerns, and 800 even greater fears that I may not be able to fulfill my father's dream here at the University of Maryland."

State Sen. Richard Madaleno joined students in the rally, implicating himself in the current state budget crisis.

"I am here for two reasons. One, to say I'm sorry. I'm sorry we didn't get things done the way we should have last week,'" Madaleno told the crowd. "And I'm here to ask you to do something about it -- and that's to call people like myself and say, 'You didn't do your job. It's time for you to go back to Annapolis and get it done.'"

There could be a reprieve if lawmakers call a special session to balance the budget, but the solution would likely involve higher taxes, which Madaleno acknowledged Thursday.

Timing of a special session is now in limbo. Gov. Martin O'Malley wants to call one as soon as possible. But he says he won't call one until a consensus has been reached between the House and Senate on how to reconcile differences between the two chambers on an income tax increase to help fill the budget gap.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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