The Campus Chronicle
Vol. XVIII, Issue 37
for the Amherst campus of the University of Massachusetts
June 27, 2003

 Page One Grain & Chaff Obituaries Letters to the Chronicle Archives Feedback Weekly Bulletin

 Page One Grain & Chaff Obituaries Letters to the Chronicle Archives Feedback Weekly Bulletin




Legislature cuts UMass by $80.5m

by Daniel J. Fitzgibbons, Chronicle staff

A n already grim budget situation took a turn for the worse June 13 as legislators approved a conference committee proposal that cuts funding for the University system by 18.5 percent or $80.5 million.

     The $22.3 billion fiscal 2004 state budget package passed easily, with the House voting 118-37 in favor of the measure and the Senate approving the plan by a vote of 32-6. The budget is now before Gov. Mitt Romney, who has 10 days to sign the budget, issue vetoes or suggest changes.

     If Romney leaves the UMass funding intact, the maintenance appropriation for the five-campus system will drop from $436,276,144 to $355,764,464, which includes an estimated $28 million in tuition paid by out-of-state students that the Amherst campus will be allowed to retain as part of a two-year pilot program. Under the experimental program, the state will bear the fringe benefit costs for employees paid from the funds during fiscal 2004.

    The legislative budget level-funds Commonwealth College at $1.715 million but contains no funding for the endowed chair matching fund incentive program or library acquisitions.

    Funding for the state scholarship program was reduced $9.2 million to $82.4 million and the earmark for the UMass system for needs-based financial aid reduced by $1 million to $8.6 million.

     Lawmakers also approved an early retirement incentive allowing state employees to add five years to their age or years of service to qualify for higher pension benefits. The program will include employees paid from federal, trust and capital funds.

     The application window is July 15 to Sept. 1 with a Dec. 31 retirement date for higher education employees. The measure allows the University president or chancellor of the Board of Higher Education to identify job titles which could elect to retire as early as Aug. 29.

    The measure calls for a refill cap of 20 percent for state-funded positions and the cap does not apply to positions funded from federal, trust or capital accounts.

    Payments for accrued sick leave and vacation time would be made in four equal payments during the next four years.

     Finally, the Legislature approved a tiered system of health insurance premiums for state employees, with workers earning less than $35,000 continuing to pay 15 percent. Employees earning $35,000 and up will now pay 20 percent and new employees hired after July 1 will pay 25 percent. New retirees will pay 15 percent.

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