Tuition at the University of Maryland would rise 3 percent for the third straight year under a budget proposal from Gov. Martin O’Malley released Wednesday.

An O’Malley spokeswoman described the increase as “modest,” but some parents said they were upset and reluctant to shell out more as they deal with a tough economy.

“People’s incomes are still flat. Now is not the time for a tuition increase when the university is spending millions of dollars on the president’s new house and other nonessentials,” said Pauletta Handy, a Bowie resident whose son is a junior at the College Park campus.

Annual tuition is $8,655 for in-state students and $26,026 for those hailing from outside Maryland. O’Malley kept tuition frozen for four years, a key talking point in his 2010 re-election campaign. But under economic pressure, O’Malley proposed a 3 percent tuition increase in 2010, and again in 2011.

“Four years of no tuition increase,” said spokeswoman Raquel Guillory. “This is a very, very modest increase.”

Neil Bergsman, director of the nonprofit, nonpartisan Maryland Budget & Tax Policy Institute, said some states are seeing double-digit increases in their public college tuition.

“I think when we had the tuition freeze everyone understood that it couldn’t possibly last forever,” Bergsman said. “A larger [tuition] increase this year would not have surprised me.”

O’Malley’s budget must be approved by the General Assembly, which has about 2 1/2 months to mull it over.

A graduate from Adelphi and mother of a sophomore said she wasn’t happy with the tuition increase, especially because O’Malley’s budget also calls for raising taxes.

“Paychecks will be less and tuition higher — something does not add up here,” she said. “We are trying to support our alma mater, but as state residents, we do not seem to get any breaks.”

O’Malley’s across-the-Potomac counterpart, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, proposed adding $100 million to higher education with the expectation that Virginia’s public universities hold tuition flat.

University of Virginia’s tuition rose by 8.9 percent last year, and costs $11,794 annually for in-state students and $36,788 for out-of-state students.