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The Latest: UMass officials blast Senate budget proposal

May 7, 2019

BOSTON (AP) — The Latest on the state budget proposal released Tuesday by a key Senate panel (all times local):

4:10 p.m.

University of Massachusetts officials say a Senate committee’s proposal to freeze tuition and fees at the five-campus system would be “devastating” to students and faculty.

The Senate Ways and Means panel on Tuesday unveiled a $42.7 billion state budget proposal for the fiscal year starting on July 1. Included was a proposal to hike state funding for the UMass system by $39 million, along with a requirement that the university not raise tuition or fees for students during the next academic year.

In a letter sent to Democratic Senate President Karen Spilka, UMass president Martin Meehan and the chancellors of the five schools called the proposed freeze “unprecedented,” and one that came without warning. The officials said it would force $22 million in budget reductions on the campus.

Senate Ways and Means chairman Michael Rodrigues said the university “should be able to find a way” to avoid tuition or fee increases.

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2:05 p.m.

A key legislative panel is calling for a tuition freeze at the University of Massachusetts and what lawmakers say is a record amount of state aid to elementary and secondary schools.

A $42.7 billion budget proposal released Tuesday by the Senate Ways and Means Committee calls for an overall 3% increase in state spending from the current fiscal year.

No major tax hikes are included, though Senate Democrats would restore new taxes proposed by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker on prescription opioid manufacturers, and on e-cigarettes and vaping supplies. Those taxes were dropped from a spending plan approved in the House.

Senate Ways and Means chair Michael Rodrigues said UMass would be prohibited from raising tuition and fees in the next academic year and would receive a 7% increase in state spending.