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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan to sign $577M HBCU settlement bill

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan will sign a measure to settle a 15-year-old federal lawsuit relating to underfunding at the state’s four historically Black colleges and universities for $577 million over a decade, the governor’s spokesman said Wednesday.

Hogan is scheduled to attend a bill signing Wednesday afternoon with lawmakers at Bowie State University.

Hogan, a Republican, vetoed a similar bill last year after citing economic difficulties created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Lawmakers passed a new measure last week in a large bipartisan vote of support.

The measure would not begin payments until fiscal year 2023.

The measure’s provisions are contingent on a final settlement agreement June 1. Michael Jones, a leading attorney for the HBCUs, told The Associated Press last week he did not anticipate any problems reaching a settlement, once the settlement measure becomes law.

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The lawsuit dating to 2006 alleged that the state had underfunded the institutions while developing programs at traditionally white schools that directly compete with and drain prospective students away from HBCUs.

In 2013, a federal judge found that the state had maintained “a dual and segregated education system” that violated the Constitution. In 2019, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a fourth attempt at mediation, but the case has remained unresolved.

Maryland’s four historically black colleges are Bowie State University, Coppin State University, Morgan State University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

The funds in the settlement would be used for scholarships and financial aid support services, as well as faculty recruitment and development. The money also could be used to expand and improve existing academic programs, including online programs, as well as the development and implementation of new academic programs.