General Assembly agrees on $4 million cut from University System of Maryland's central office
USM Chancellor William E. "Brit" Kirwan speaks in Annapolis in this file photo. The General Assembly has agreed to cut $4 million in spending from the University System of Maryland's central office for the next fiscal year, finding a middle ground between the House and Senate. (Herald- Mail file photo)
A group of delegates and senators reached an agreement Tuesday, one of the final pieces in a compromise on the $34 billion fiscal 2012 state budget.
The USM central office cut could affect Washington County if money were taken from the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown's budget to help make up for the shortfall.
The $19.3 million central office budget includes about $1.9 million for USMH.
However, USM Chancellor William E. "Brit" Kirwan, reached by phone Tuesday, said Hagerstown and Shady Grove, the site of the other regional USM center, shouldn't worry about damaging cuts.
"There will not be any significant harm done to the centers," he said.
The USM central office was part of Tuesday's budget conference meeting because the House approved an $8.1 million cut and the Senate approved a $2 million cut.
The state Department of Legislative Services previously recommended an $8.1 million cut to the USM central office budget, saying the office could charge member schools for the office's work.
Kirwan objected, arguing that the central office is a guiding force for the system, not a service.
As part of Tuesday's agreement, the Senate deferred to the House on a provision connected to the cut.
The House, in its approved version of the budget, listed choices for how USM might make up for the central office cut, including replacing some or all of the money from its fund balance, cutting from the Hagerstown and Shady Grove center budgets or charging USM member schools for the work of the central office.
The Senate, in its approved budget, kept the fund balance or fee-for-service options to recoup money, but eliminated the choice of cutting from Hagerstown or Shady Grove.
On Tuesday, the Senate agreed to include the possibility of cuts from Hagerstown or Shady Grove in the budget language.