The Massachusetts Senate passed a $34 billion dollar state budget on May 23 that earmarks $454.8 million for the five-campus UMass system, $23 million less than the budget proposals presented by Gov. Deval Patrick and approved by the State House of Representatives and advocated by UMass President Robert Caret.
A six-member conference committee of state representatives and senators will now work to negotiate a compromise spending bill that must be approved by both chambers of the Legislature before being sent to Patrick for his signature prior to the start of the state budget year on July 1.
Caret said that if the House-approved budget is adopted, it would be the first installment of a two-year investment that would lead to an equitable sharing of the cost of public higher education between families and the state, a 50-50 split, and enable UMass to freeze tuition and fees. Currently, the state share of educating a student is 43 percent.
With the Senate budget providing an increase of $16 million in UMass funding, not the $39 million sought by the university, Caret said the UMass trustees will likely approve an increase in fees to maintain academic quality.
In an opinion piece published by the Sunday Republican, Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy called on lawmakers to help the UMass system continue the momentum that UMass Amherst and other campuses have built over the past decade.
“To promote the economic health of our Commonwealth, and to ensure access to a first-rate education for this generation of college students, the time is right to adopt the 50/50 funding plan,” Subbaswamy wrote. “The governor and the Massachusetts House have taken vital steps in this process. The House and Senate can work with the governor to close the deal and again make Massachusetts a trailblazer in higher education.”