By Daniel J. Fitzgibbons
A $724 state spending plan that contains partial funding for retroactive pay raises for higher education employees was approved Sept. 9 by the Legislature and sent to Gov. Mitt Romney, who has 10 days to act on the bill.
The contract funding is for the final six months of 2003 and covers employees who retired after July 1 of that year.
Chancellor John V. Lombardi welcomed news of the pay package in a prepared statement that said, “We are very pleased that the Legislature continues to fund our employee salary packages and we thank the leadership of the Senate and House, our local delegation, and all the other legislators who work so hard to support this campus and the university.”
The package also includes $12 million for a public higher education matching program for private fund-raising; $9 million of the allocation is designated for the UMass system. The measure renews the endowment matching program and includes gifts toward facility construction.
“We are also extremely grateful that the Legislature has established a new matching program for private fund-raising on behalf of all higher education,” added Lombardi. “This will provide a strong incentive for private support on behalf of public higher education programs and facilities. Student support, faculty professorships, and other academic activities will be greatly enhanced thanks to this imaginative approach to public-private collaboration in support of public higher education. Again, the leadership of the Senate and House, our local legislators, and our many other friends in the Legislature deserve our thanks for this initiative.
Another section of the bill contains a $300,000 appropriation to the UMass system account but does not specify its purpose.