Mass. Gov. Proposes $2B To Colleges

This story was written by Jackie Catcher, The Daily Free Press
To improve crumbling corridors and deteriorating dormitories, Gov. Deval Patrick last week proposed legislation that would invest $2 billion in the nine state universities and 15 community colleges.

The money would be evenly distributed and used to pay for construction and maintenance of campus buildings over the next 10 years, Patrick said in his proposal.

"Our public institutions of higher education must have high-quality instructional and research facilities in order to offer students a world-class college education and produce the talented workforce needed for a growing and dynamic Massachusetts economy," he said.

The University of Massachusetts system will receive $1 billion, while the remaining state colleges and universities will receive the other $1 billion, The Boston Globe reported this month.

The bond bill, which relies on money borrowed from the state, recommends $750 million be budgeted for the next five years and the remaining $1.25 billion be spent in the subsequent five years.

"We're very excited by the proposed capital bond bill," said Bryan Baldwin, Bridgewater State College's chief of staff. "Bridgewater's existing science building was designed decades ago for a student population of 800. Today, we're a campus of nearly 10,000, and the demand for science and science education is growing rapidly.

"[A] new science facility would be a tremendous -- and long overdue -- upgrade for the campus and a critical new economic engine for southeastern Massachusetts," Baldwin continued.

While 3 percent of the capital projects budget in Massachusetts was spent on education last year, this investment would bump that percentage up to 10 percent, closer to the national average of 12 percent.

"Bringing the state's investment in capital improvements closer to the national average will help stem the tide of increasing student fees and help us meet another goal of greater affordability and access to higher education," said Associate Director of Communications at the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education Sarah Mealey.

"The total capital need for the public higher education system currently exceeds $6 billion, so this bill would be a significant step toward addressing that need," Mealey said.

"This story appears courtesy of UWIRE, a news service powered by student journalists at more than 800 universities. To learn more, visit UWIRE.com."
© 2007 The Daily Free Press via U-WIRE
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