State legislators propose budget, UMass could receive almost $532 million

By Anthony Rentsch

(Scutter/Flickr)
(Scutter/Flickr)

Massachusetts legislators have proposed a $38 billion state budget for the 2016 fiscal year, earmarking just shy of $532 million for the University of Massachusetts system.

A handful of legislators from both the House and Senate have been working to reconcile the differences between the houses’ differing budget proposals. Notably, the proposed $531,807,373 for UMass falls on the higher end of the gap between the House’s $519 million budget and the Senate’s $538 million budget for the university system.

The figure is still far below the $578 million budget UMass requested. However, if the budget holds, student fee increases will be smaller than expected.

At its June 17 meeting, the board of trustees approved the implementation and increase of fees, including the debated Information Technology fee, which could have increased the cost of attending UMass by six to eight percent.

The UMass Student Administration Accountability Coalition called the proposed budget a “victory for students,” even though it believes the state underfunds higher education overall, according to an email from the SAAC.

Two steps remain before the state’s budget is finalized. The Senate and House are slated to vote soon on the amended bill. They will only be able to approve or reject the bill in its entirety, without suggesting new amendments.

Once it passes the legislature it will go to Governor Charlie Baker, who can accept or reject the bill in its entirety, or veto or reduce specific line items. Any vetoes or reductions made by Baker require a two-thirds vote in each house to get overruled.

The SAAC said it plans to continue lobbying the legislature and the newly appointed president Marty Meehan for supplemental funding at mid-year.

Anthony Rentsch can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Anthony_Rentsch.