Romney vetoes contract funds

By Daniel J. Fitzgibbons

Gov. W. Mitt Romney last week vetoed $76 million, including $32 million intended to fund retroactive pay increases for 13,000 public higher education employees, from a proposed $724 million spending plan.

“Taxpayers who are trying to make ends meet, and who have been denied the tax cut they voted for in 2000, should not be asked to pay for retroactive salary increases for state employees,” said Romney in a press release.

Approved Sept. 9 by the Legislature, the contract funding package would have covered a six-month period of the three-year collective bargaining agreements that expired June 30.

Because the measure was passed during an informal session, legislative leaders indicated that Romney''s evtoes would not be challenged. Instead, said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. John H. Rogers (D-Norwood) said the cuts will be taken up when the Legislature returns to formal session in January.

After issuing his vetoes, the governor signed the $439 million supplemental budget. The remaining $285 million is designated for the state’s stabilization fund and school building assistance.

One of the items that survived in the supplemental budget was $12 million for the Public Higher Education Endowment Incentive Program (PHEEIP), which provides matching funds for private donations to the University and state and community colleges. Of the total, $9 million is designated for the UMass system.