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Maryland’s House Speaker is urging the state’s governor to settle a lawsuit involving four historically black colleges for $577 million.

House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones sent a letter this week to Gov. Larry Hogan, exhorting him to end what she described as “a stain on the national reputation of Maryland’s higher education system.” She urged him to accept an amount recommended by an attorney representing the state’s four HBCUs to settle the 13-year-old lawsuit over disparities in programs.

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Jones said any settlement money would be used to develop new programming, hire faculty and expand the reach of state scholarships.

Last month, an attorney for Hogan made what he described as a “final offer” of $200 million to settle the lawsuit.

Hogan responded in a letter Wednesday to Jones that he has worked to fund HBCUs at historically high levels over the past five years, and he added that the administration’s latest offer of $200 million offer was double an offer made last year.

The governor also said in the letter that he has a responsibility to protect the state’s finances amid the prospect of a national economic downturn.

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