GCC sees less funding in Senate committee proposal
GREENFIELD — Greenfield Community College won’t be level-funded next year, but it remains to be seen just how much of an increase it will receive.
In its budget proposal Wednesday, the state’s Senate Ways and Means Committee allocated $8.35 million to the college — an increase from last year’s $7.9 million, but much less than the $8.9 million that was allocated by the governor and then by the House.
“Although disappointing we want to keep in mind that this is a process,” said President Robert Pura. “(We will) remain engaged in the process.”
GCC’s state funding will fall somewhere between the House’s and Senate’s allocations. Once the full Senate approves its budget, a conference committee made of members of both House and Senate will reconcile the budgetary differences (the House increased community college funding by $20 million statewide, the Senate raised it by $10 million).
Pura said Wednesday it was too early to say what the Senate committee’s allocation would mean for the college. The higher allocations by the governor and the House were enough to forestall any increases in student fees and fill in some areas, like the library, that have seen cuts in recent years, he has said.
In the past few years, state money has accounted for between 40 and 45 percent of the college’s overall revenue. It was 41 percent last year and could be as high as 47 percent next year, said Chief Financial Officer Tim Braim.
While the Senate committee’s $33.9 billion budget proposal provided less higher education funding than the House proposal, it did allocate for more K-12 funding — including regional transportation and special education funding — than the House.
Greenfield, for instance, fared well: the budget allocated to the town $11.9 million in Chapter 70 funding — the primary form of state aid for education. The amount is an increase of $1.4 million from last year and slightly higher than the House’s $1.3 million increase.
“I think it’s a very positive education budget,” said Sen. Stephen Brewer, D-Barre, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
“The House made a large list for funding for higher education. ... We have chosen to put more resources into (other education) programs,” he said. “It’s not possible to do everything for everyone.”
Brewer said he could not speculate where budget differences, like the community college allocation, would end up after the conference committee.
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