Romney files FY06 budget recommendations

By Daniel J. Fitzgibbons

Gov. Mitt Romney this week filed a proposed $23.22 billion fiscal 2006 state budget that includes $406,475,251 for the UMass system, $13.9 million more than the current appropriation of $392,535,034.

Romney’s total includes $2,940,217 in line items for Commonwealth College, which is level-funded at $1,715,000 and the Toxic Use Reduction Institute at UMass Lowell, which is also level-funded at $1,225,217.

The remaining balance of about $403.5 million for the five-campus system includes a $21 million earmark for a Nanotechnology Manufacturing Center at the Lowell campus. An earmark designates a specific amount of funding to a specific project or program. Once the earmark for the nanotechnology center is subtracted from the governor’s proposed appropriation, the actual figure for the UMass system is $382,535,034 -- $10 million less than the current level of support.

Romney’s budget plan also calls for continuing tuition retention for out-of-state students at the Amherst campus into fiscal 2006. Fringe costs for employees paid from retention funds would continue to be funded by the state. The tuition retention program is scheduled to expire on June 30.

The Romney budget also calls for level-funding of financial aid at $82 million.

The budget has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee. Hearings on the budget will probably begin sometime in mid- to late February.