Is a 1 percent trim really doomsday?

The recent op-ed written by William E. Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland, is similar to Chicken Little declaring that the sky is falling ("Doomsday for Md. higher education," April 24). Mr. Kirwan states that "under the doomsday budget, the USM would be cut nearly $50 million" and would "dictate a double-digit increase for in-state undergraduate tuition, an increase significantly higher than the 3 percent included in the governor's budget proposal."

However, based on information found on the USM's own website (www.usmd.edu) the combined budget for the 11 universities and one research facility within the USM system is currently in excess of $4.5 billion, serving approximately 155,900 students. Using these numbers, the $50 million cut translates into a cut of approximately $321 per student or 1.1 percent. So where does Mr. Kirwan come up with the double-digit increase?

He also states that "…it is simply not possible for the USM to 'absorb' a nearly $50 million cut without significant pain." According to the USM, Maryland is the twelfth largest university system in the nation. It is inconceivable that it cannot absorb a 1 percent cut.

Declining revenues and increased costs plague all of the states, many to a much higher degree. Maryland is fortunate to have one of the most stable economies in the country. A 1 percent cut is not a doomsday scenario. More efficient use of technology, for example, could be used to absorb the 1 percent cut. Residents have had to absorb a substantial cut in their buying power far in excess of 1 percent. Let's not lose touch with reality. The Maryland General Assembly would be prudent to look at whether this is really "doomsday" or just another case of "the sky is falling."

Rebecca Cornell, Woodbine

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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