University Reacts to Governor’s FY 2006 Budget Amendments

Posted: January 3, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

This column, written by Thomas Hennessey, chief of staff to President Alan Merten, is published to keep the university community informed on the legislative situation in Richmond and how those developments directly affect George Mason.

On Dec. 17, Virginia Gov. Mark Warner released his budget amendments for the coming fiscal year. While there was much about which we might be optimistic, solving the base budget adequacy problem for higher education remains as elusive as ever. Other areas in the budget relating to higher education were the following:

  • The governor targeted specific schools that have increased enrollment and graduated more students every year. George Mason received more than any other four-year institution in the Commonwealth of Virginia. After increasing enrollment by more than 5,500 students in four years, that is hardly surprising.
  • What was surprising was the governor’s proposal to provide twice as much money for “maintenance reserve” as was originally proposed in FY05. This fund allows us to make major repairs and replacements in buildings.
  • The governor included additional money for student financial aid, both undergraduate and graduate.
  • Also added were funds to cover a portion of the increased construction costs of buildings authorized in the 2002 General Obligation Bond Fund.
  • Finally, the governor allocated sufficient funding for the commonwealth’s share of a 3 percent across-the-board raise in November 2005 for staff and faculty. Any additional salary increases must be managed within the overall budget of each institution.

All in all, these are some positive steps in the right direction. However, with all that remains to be done in higher education, this is but the first step on a very long journey.

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