Va. House, Senate make budgetary recommendation

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February 14, 2011

9:59 PM

Financial recommendations from legislators in the Virginia General Assembly could have a significant impact on the College of William and Mary’s budget and capital projects.

In a Feb. 9 memorandum sent to College President Taylor Reveley and College Provost Michael Halleran, Vice President for Finance Sam Jones ’75 detailed amendments made to the commonwealth’s 2010-12 operating and capital budgets made by the House of Delegates Appropriations Committee and Senate Finance Committee.

Included in the amendments were alterations to Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s planned increases in higher education funding. McDonnell originally proposed placing $50 million in state funding in a central pool for distribution to Virginia’s public universities to implement recommendations from the Governor’s Higher Education Commission. Both committees suggested distributing funding through institution-specific grants, rather than through a central pool.

“With this approach, the College would receive $1,257,000 under the House recommendations and $573,492 under the Senate,” Jones said in the memo. “The House also provides a separate $340,000 allocation in support of additional in-state enrollment at the College while the Senate provides $106,830 in financial aid for low- and middle-income students.”

While the College could receive additional funding from the $50 million allocation, neither committee resolved the possibility of a $10 million overall reduction in higher education funding. McDonnell had earlier approved such a cut, but the House and Senate committees disagreed on its implementation.

“While not recommending any additional budget reductions for FY 2012, Governor McDonnell left intact the previously authorized but undistributed $10 million reduction to higher education institutions,” Jones said. “The House leaves this $10 million reduction in place, but the Senate eliminates it. If this cut ends up being required, neither the Governor nor the General Assembly has said what the College’s share would be.”

Both committees also addressed salary and contributions issues for Virginia Retirement System employees. The governor recommended that all VRS employees be required to contribute 5 percent of their salaries toward the retirement system, with a 3 percent base salary increase and a possible 2 percent bonus offsetting the financial impact. The House committee accepted McDonnell’s contribution recommendation, but suggested a 5 percent base salary increase and no bonus, to be implemented July 1. The Senate rejected McDonnell’s recommendation.

“As a result, if the Senate recommendation is accepted there will be no requirement that VRS employees contribute to their retirement, nor will there be any salary increase provided for FY 2012,” Jones said.

In preliminary moves, both the House and Senate committees added the proposed renovation of Tyler Hall to the list of capital projects that will be funded as the state’s debt capacity becomes available. The Senate committee also added renovations to the Brafferton to the list.

With committee recommendations finalized, the College must now wait for the full House and Senate to vote on their respective recommendations. A conference committee will then craft a final budget.

“As Sam’s memo makes clear, a lot remains to be decided,” Reveley said. “Since the General Assembly adjourns at the end of this month, more will be known soon.”

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