A proposal to build a new municipal jail in Baltimore City with money partially reserved for building projects at three of the state’s four HBCUs was killed yesterday by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, thanks in part to the legislative influence of Morgan State President David Wilson.
Members of the Legislative Black Caucus publicly denounced Hogan’s plans to delay capital projects at Morgan State University, Coppin State University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, three of a total six university projects originally included in previous budget iterations.
Black legislators said that Hogan lacked a sensitivity for minorities and his plan to delay building at the city’s two historically black colleges was ‘unconscionable.’
In an email to the Morgan State campus and alumni, Wilson detailed his personal engagement with the governor and legislative proxies, and thanked the Black Caucus for its support of his outreach. From the email:
As you know, as soon as I discovered that funds were not appropriated to Morgan by Governor Larry Hogan in his FY17 Capital Budget to enable us to build a new facility on campus to replace the Montebello Complex, I raised serious objections. After all, during last year’s legislative session, we were successful in getting the General Assembly to appropriate $1.6 million to us to start designing this building. We requested another $7 million from the state this year to continue moving this project forward, with an eye toward breaking ground on this new building in late 2016 or early 2017 — with an anticipated move-in date in mid-2020. The total projected cost of the new building will be approximately $80 million.
The Governor’s initial capital budget proposal included no support for this project this year. Instead, the Governor had proposed over $400 million to build a new jail in Baltimore City. Needless to say, I expressed strong views that an investment in Morgan should be the top priority, not a jail.
After having several meetings over the last few weeks with Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford (who has been very supportive of Morgan), and with numerous elected officials to make our case for restoration of these funds, the Governor decided this past Thursday to postpone the jail project and to restore those capital funds to us. We thank the Lt. Governor and our elected officials, particularly the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus, for their support.
Morgan is the only HBCU in the state which is not under direct control of the University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents, but its programs are subject to authorization by the state’s higher education commission, whose membership is appointed by the governor, and capital projects are funded by legislative budget approval.