Senate Budget Committee Proposes $519 Million for UMass System

A proposed $36.25 billion state budget for fiscal year 2015 released May 14 by the Senate Ways and Means Committee calls for nearly $519 million for the UMass system.

The increase of about $50 million for the UMass system from this year’s budget could potentially trigger a second freeze in tuition and mandatory fees for in-state undergraduates under President Robert Caret’s 50-50 funding plan.

Two years ago, Caret called for a two-year, $100 million increase in state funding for UMass, with the goals of strengthening the five-campus overall and equalizing the amount of money students and the state provide for educational programs. Caret said the University system would freeze tuition and mandatory fees in each of the years it received full funding of the 50-50 program.

Last month, the House approved a budget that also includes about $519 million for the UMass system.

“Massachusetts is the birthplace of public education and as such, it is appropriate that our state government leaders are taking bold steps to ensure that its citizens will have the knowledge and skills they need to compete in the global economy and be successful in life,” Caret said in a press release.

Tuition and fees for the 2014-15 academic year will not be officially set until the Board of Trustees meets June 18 at UMass Dartmouth. In setting tuition and fees, trustees are expected to examine how UMass is faring in the state budget process and will also have to take note of the collective-bargaining process.

This year, 8,900 state-funded, unionized employees working in a variety of faculty and staff positions across the UMass system are expected to receive increases projected to cost up to $14 million in FY15. Historically, the state has provided funding for the first year of new contracts via a separate appropriation.

Now that the Ways and Means Committee has released its spending plan, senators can file amendments to the measure. Debate on the budget is expected to begin May 21. Once a budget is approved by the Senate, differences with the House plan must be resolved by a conference committee before a final legislative package can be approved by both chambers and sent to the governor.


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