“This Week in Richmond” Budget Column Debuts Today

Posted: February 21, 2002 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

This weekly column, written by Thomas Hennessey, chief of staff to President Alan Merten, is published to keep the university community informed on the budget situation in Richmond, and how those developments directly affect George Mason. The column appears every Thursday in the Daily Gazette.

The Senate and the House recently finished work on their bills and “crossed over” by sending their final bills to the “other house.” Between now and March 4, the House and the Senate will act on each other’s bills and, if agreed to, forward them to Gov. Mark Warner for his signature.

On Sunday, the House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committee’s subcommittees reported their initial budget recommendations. The key committees for us are Higher Education and Capital Outlay. Although major operating budget reductions are now a fact of life, the House and the Senate have recommended either salary increases or targeted bonuses for state employees. It is anticipated that some funding for faculty and staff will emerge.

The House and the Senate also rejected any connection between tuition increases and budget reductions. Instead, each recommends that Boards of Visitors be permitted to raise tuition for all students and keep any tuition increase at the schools. Budget conferees will work out compromises between March 2-7.

A few positive notes: Some Equipment Trust Fund and Virtual Library of Virginia cuts have been recommended for restoration. The General Obligation Bond Bill that could be on the ballot in November is sailing through both houses. When the bill is finally signed by the governor and approved by the voters, George Mason will receive more than $107 million for construction and renovation. This will allow for critical repairs and renovations and new buildings on all three campuses.

Write to at