UMass fee freeze possibly stymied by Senate

BOSTON (WWLP) —  

Public university officials are warning that the Senate's state budget proposal doesn't provide enough money for them to keep fees from going up.  The plan falls short of spending the $478 millions dollars requested by the University of Massachusetts to freeze tuition and fees.

“Obviously you can’t be all things to all people all the time,” said Senate Ways and Means Chairman Stephen Brewer (D-Barre).  “We get ourselves incrementally in the direction that they want.  We’re about 25 percent of the way to the 50/50 plan.”

The 50/50 plan was pitched by UMass President Robert Caret.  It calls for the cost of university funding to be split 50/50 between state government and students. Governor Deval Patrick and the House of Representatives have provided the money requested by UMass and other public universities to freeze student fees.

“The opportunity to say to [students] for at least next year and maybe for the next two after that, that the costs will not be any more than it has been this past year is significant, it’s huge,” said Westfield State University President Evan Dobelle when the House released their budget last month.

The Senate has focused instead on funding other education programs.  For instance, they’re spending an additional $15 million dollars to remove children off early education wait lists – But even that’s being criticized as too little.

“This adds $15 million to last year’s level, which is more than $200 million below where we had been.  So there are still tens of thousands of kids who don’t have access to early education,” said Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center President Noah Berger.

The state Senate will begin debating the budget next Wednesday.  The governor must sign the budget by July 1 st .

Copyright 2014 WWLP TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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