General Assembly Wraps Up Bond, Budget Issues Affecting Mason

Posted: April 28, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Thomas Hennessey, Mason chief of staff

On Wednesday, April 23, the Virginia General Assembly approved a six-year capital improvement plan that provides almost $1.9 billion for construction, renovation and repair of higher education facilities in the commonwealth.

Among the 57 higher education $1 billion funded projects that will move forward immediately are four Mason projects:

  • Krasnow addition, Phase II ($5.6 million)

  • ICAR facilities at Point of View ($5 million)

  • Hylton Performing Arts Center at the Prince William Campus ($2.5 million)

  • Renovation of Science and Technology II ($49.5 million)

Mason has two high-priority projects included in the $27.7 million provided to complete detailed planning:

  • Renovation of the Fine Arts Building ($8.7 million construction project)

  • Fenwick Library addition ($50 million construction project)

Mason receives $2.4 million for the planning of these projects.

The General Assembly also took up the amendments to the budget bill proposed by Gov. Timothy Kaine. All four amendments submitted for Mason to correct errors in the original budget bill were unanimously approved by the House and Senate.

The General Assembly returned the budget bill to the governor with an expectation that he will sign it this week. Once signed, the budget reductions expected in the next two years for Mason include a $1.7 million reduction in base funding each year and a $1.9 million reduction in research funding support in the first year, followed by an increase of $1.2 million in the second year.

The budget bill also provides Mason with additional authority to reallocate funding for three major projects: “Swing Space,” the Belmont Bay Science Center, and the regional Bioscience Research Laboratory at the Prince William Campus.

Earlier this month, Kaine signed a bill into law that will have major benefits for the university once approved by the Board of Visitors (BOV) at its May 7 meeting. HB 1390 provides additional operational authority for public institutions of higher education in the areas of information technology, procurement and capital outlay pursuant to the Restructuring Act of 2005.

Mason has selected information technology and procurement as its two operational areas and looks forward to the advantages of better managing its systems and operations.

Another bill that becomes law on July 1 requires boards of visitors to establish policies and procedures for notifying a parent of a dependent student when the student receives mental health treatment at the institution’s student health or counseling center if it has been determined that there exists a substantial likelihood that, as a result of mental illness, the student will in the near future cause harm to himself or herself or others; or will suffer serious harm because of a lack of capacity to protect or care for himself or herself.

Mason’s BOV will consider a recommended policy at its May 7 meeting.

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