General Assembly 2006: Week Four
Posted: February 10, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am
Editor’s note: the following article was written by Thomas Hennessey, chief of staff to President Alan Merten, to keep the university community informed on the legislative situation in Richmond and how those developments directly affect George Mason.
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The governor’s budget released in December included increases for George Mason in both operating and capital funds. Since this is the first time in many years that a budget has been submitted to the General Assembly with additional money identified for George Mason, expectations are high.
Initial responses from those on the Appropriations and Finance Committees are that the funding will remain steady, but nothing is firm until the final conference report is published and approved by both the House and Senate.
George Mason has submitted a number of priority budget amendments. The number one priority is the cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) request for Mason employees. Independent studies have concluded that the difference between the cost of living in Northern Virginia and elsewhere in the commonwealth is approximately 33 percent. While the university is requesting funds over two years to cover the increase required to bring salaries to a point where the differential is much smaller, the large amount required has caused some concern among lawmakers.
Other budget amendments are primarily in the area of capital, construction and renovation. Among these are matching funds for private gifts, planning funds for the Loudoun Campus and funds for the Prince William Community Performing Arts Center.
Key dates coming up in February include “cross over” on Feb. 14 (the day all bills except budget bills must be sent to the other house); Feb. 19 (when budget bills must be reported); and Feb. 23 (the date both houses vote on their respective budget bills).