This Week in Richmond…

Posted: February 5, 2003 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 on Wednesdays in the Daily Gazette.

As the General Assembly rolls toward the end of this “short” session on Feb. 21, the House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committees reported their recommended budget amendments on Sunday, Feb. 2. George Mason had four amendments proposed, and three were acted upon although not entirely funded–financial aid, Academic IV operating, and Prince William IIIA equipment. The fourth, a request to meet the large enrollment growth of the university, was not addressed.

Both the Senate and the House have proposed salary increases for staff and faculty: the House proposed a 2.5 percent increase in December and the Senate proposed a 2 percent increase in November. Both rely on anticipated increases in state revenue between now and then, with a decision to be made in August. Other increases in support include funds for maintenance reserve in the range of $12.5 million to $25 million.

The anticipated elimination of almost $1.3 million for the School of Law and the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution has apparently been avoided. However, both should expect at least a 10 percent reduction. This reduction mirrors a recommended reduction in funding for Eminent Scholars proposed by the House.

It is apparent that the authority of the Board of Visitors to set tuition is going to be restrained by the General Assembly. Although both houses have set different “caps” on tuition increases, there is a clear indication that some sort of cap will be imposed.

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