Legislature sends budget to governor
The House and Senate Conference Committee released the FY06 state budget on June 23. The House and Senate unanimously approved the budget of $23.9 billion the same day and sent it to the governor.
The governor has ten days to approve or veto each section of the budget. After he sends his veto message to the Legislature, the House and Senate can override his vetoes by a two-thirds vote.
Many of the spending items for public education reflect the higher amount between the two bodies.
To balance the budget, the Legislature spends $600 million from the "Rainy Day Fund." Because tax revenues have been coming in at higher rate than initially projected, it is expected that this $600 million will be put back in the Stabilization Fund.
The Legislature's budget also depends on enacting a corporate tax loophole bill. Recently, the House passed H 4169 which would generate $105 million in addition revenues. The Senate has not yet acted on the bill. The House-passed bill still leaves open $65 million in loopholes that had been contained in the governor's original January proposal.
In spite of a $105 million increase over FY05 spending for Chapter 70 (state aid to school districts), the spending level is still $388 million below FY02 spending, when adjusted for inflation. The budget did not adopt the Senate's proposal of a $55 million reserve that could only be used when a new distribution had been enacted.
Overall funding for public higher education is $32.75 million more than funding in FY05. Despite this increase, when adjusted for inflation, public higher education funding is still $318 million below funding in FY01.
- The UMass budget is $441,912,247 million which is $18.4 million (4.4 percent) over FY05, when tuition retention is included.
- State colleges received an increase of $10.3 (5.7 percent) million over FY05 for a total $192,565,051 million.
- Community college funding increased $12.8 million (6.5 percent) over FY05 for a total of $211,117,972 million.
The House and Senate included identical language on restoring the premium split for health insurance to 85/15 (from a split of 80/20) for state employees hired before July 1, 2003, and to an 80/20 split (from a split of 75/25) for those state employees hired after that date. This change takes place as of Jan. 1, 2006. This language is included in the budget that was sent the governor.
The Legislature's version of the FY06 budget proposes that all tuition for out-of-state students at UMass-Amherst shall be retained by UMass-Amherst. In addition, all out-of-state tuition and fees received by Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts will be retained and all tuition and fees received by Massachusetts College of Art and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy will be retained by their respective boards. Any balance in the funds at the close of a fiscal year shall be available for expenditure in subsequent fiscal years and shall not revert to the general fund.