The conference committee has filed its consensus bill (now H4269). As expected, the funding for the MSCA day (and APA and UMass contracts) is not included (they have not yet been moved by Baker to the Legislature).
Of note for the state universities:
The Legislature added $30,000,000 to the Senate version of the bill for “financial impacts of the 2019 novel coronavirus pandemic and maintenance projects.” This is what we were seeking. In fact, the full amount we noted in our Action Network alert ($75,000,000) was funded for the three segments ($15,000,000 for the community colleges and $30,000,000 for UMass).
The Legislature added $5,000,000 for public higher education students’ mental health needs. This is what we were seeking in our Action Network alert.
The Legislature added $1,000,000 for a hunger-free public higher education initiative. This is what we were seeking in our Action Network alert.
The Legislature added $5,000,000 in an endowment matching fund (which we did not specifically include in our Action Network alert).
In addition, there are three earmarks for specific state universities: There is $3,000,000 for Fitchburg State University for the purpose of renovating the historic theater block; $500,000 for Framingham State University for water and sewer infrastructure improvements at the Warren Conference Center; and $50,000 for Westfield State University for new equipment at the Dr. Nettie Stevens Science and Innovation Center.
In addition, our Action Network alert requested $30,000,000 to support workforce training programs at community colleges (the Legislature included only $15,000,000) and $2.7 million for a community college campus hunger pilot program, which the Legislature fully funded.
So, while higher education fared well in conference committee, the allocation of ARPA funds is far below what it should have been in the for public higher education in Massachusetts.
Thank you to Sean King from MTA’s Government Relations division for information late last night.
Please note that the bill has not been passed. However, there will be no more amendments and the House and Senate will either need to try to pass the bill in informal session, or suspend their rules to allow the bill to carry over into January, 2022.