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UMass system must cut $10.9 million from budget

UMass president Marty Meehan is expected to meet with campus chancellors next week to develop a plan for how to make cuts. Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

The University of Massachusetts will cut $10.9 million from its budget this year because the Legislature did not grant the system an extra pot of money it sought to cover pay increases for staff and professors, president Martin T. Meehan said Thursday.

It is too early to know what will be eliminated, but UMass Amherst will absorb $5 million in cuts, Meehan said.

The cuts could be especially painful because they will come out of the budget for this fiscal year, which is nearly half over.

“We are very disappointed,” Meehan said in a statement.

The UMass president Thursday blamed the state Senate, which rejected the House’s attempt to include the extra money.


Meehan and Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg, a UMass graduate who is considered an ally of the system, clashed earlier this year when Rosenberg called on UMass to reduce student fees, something Meehan said was financially impossible.

The money UMass sought would have covered a year’s worth of retroactive raises that are part of new three-year contracts with staff and faculty unions, which represent about 6,000 workers across the campuses.

In September, Meehan appeared to be confident UMass would get the $10.9 million for the raises, because he went ahead and paid back wages to employees, in part to quiet outcry from the unions, before knowing if the Legislature would allocate the money.

The decision to not allocate the money is a blow to Meehan, who took over in July promising to bring more resources to the system.

“We appreciate the attempt that the House of Representatives made to provide this funding for contracts previously agreed to with our employees and are puzzled by the breakdown in the process,” Meehan said in a statement.

UMass insisted it required additional money, beyond its typical state funding, to cover the first year of the contracts. But others, including the governor’s budget office, said the university should pay for the increases out of its regular state appropriation.


The UMass system has a budget of about $3 billion, of which roughly $530 million comes from the state.

Rosenberg, an Amherst Democrat, said in a statement Thursday his commitment to UMass “remains steadfast.” He pointed out that the Legislature this year increased the system’s overall appropriation by 4 percent and passed a bill to change the way UMass collects tuition, something the university has wanted for decades.

As lawmakers finalized this midyear budget bill, Senator Michael Moore, a Millbury Democrat, filed an amendment to add the $10.9 million for UMass, but the Senate dismissed it without a vote.

“I don’t think there was a message trying to be sent. I think there’s just a lot of priorities and we don’t have the financial resources to meet all of those needs,” Moore said in a phone interview Thursday.

The bill did include $8.8 million to cover collective bargaining increases at the nine state universities, which are separate from the five UMass campuses.

Meehan called the lack of funding “particularly frustrating” because it occurred the day after a state report showed UMass is the only sector of the state’s public higher education system that has increasing enrollment of undergraduates.

Earlier in the year, the Legislature gave UMass an extra $2.2 million toward the raises. It is possible lawmakers could allocate more money to UMass in a future midyear budget bill.

Laura Krantz can be reached at laura.krantz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @laurakrantz.