HB 98 - Maryland Higher Education Outreach & College Access Pilot Program - Alterations (MD College Access Act)

Position: Support

Committee: House Appropriations Committee 

The Maryland Catholic Conference offers this testimony in SUPPORT of House Bill 98. The Conference represents the public policy interests of the three (arch)dioceses serving Maryland, the Archdioceses of Baltimore and Washington and the Diocese of Wilmington, which together encompass over one million Marylanders.

House Bill 98 seeks to repeal the sunset of an important pilot program passed in 2015, established by a bill originally supported by the Conference. The program promotes college access for low-income Maryland high school students. It also increases the participation of Maryland’s non-profit organizations in promoting education among those with financial need.

The Church emphasizes special attention toward advancing opportunities for children who might be marginalized in having less educational opportunity than others. States should do all that they can to level the playing fields across income levels with regard to access to education. The Conference support legislation, such as House Bill 98, that promotes access to “education, access to health care, and above all employment, for it is through free, creative, participatory and mutually supportive labor that human beings express and enhance the dignity of their lives.” (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 192). It is through education that citizens find a pathway toward economic security and the dignity of work. We believe House Bill 98 to be a creative and worthwhile investment in providing those things for future generations.

It is in the best interest for Maryland’s future to ensure that low-income students have access to continue their education. Therefore, we urge this Committee to report favorably on House Bill 98.