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General Assembly Budget News

William & Mary President Taylor Reveley sent the following message to the campus community on April 19, 2012 - Ed.

Dear William & Mary Community,

          Late yesterday the General Assembly agreed on a budget for the state’s next biennium (fiscal years 2013 and 2014).  By most measures, this budget is the best for public higher education in Virginia since the onset of the Great Recession.  The results for William & Mary are generally positive.  We warmly thank our elected leaders who went to bat for the College in the General Assembly.

          The budget includes approximately $1.2 million in new operating dollars for W&M to help support base operations, student financial aid, enrollment increases and a few other priorities identified in the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2011.  

          The budget includes as well a 3 percent bonus for state employees (including everyone at W&M) payable this December if the state meets certain revenue goals by June 30, 2012.  The state will pay for 30 percent of the W&M bonus, leaving 70 percent to come from funds we must raise.  For FY 2014, the budget includes a 2 percent base salary increase for state employees, with William & Mary funding 70 percent of it.  These steps by the General Assembly begin to ease a long compensation drought and, thus, are unusually welcome.  By FY 2014, it will have been six years since the state itself provided a base-pay increase.  We have done better at the College, and we will continue to work hard on this front.

At W&M’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science, the budget includes $525,000 to support four faculty positions and $50,000 for a scoping study that will begin to look at ways to prevent recurrent flooding in Tidewater and the Eastern Shore.

The General Assembly has also moved to bolster the financial integrity of the Virginia Retirement System.  This means William & Mary will see significant increases in the amounts the university must raise to help support VRS and the state’s benefits system.  The budget does not change the current contribution rate to VRS by employees, and there are no changes in the required contribution to the Optional Retirement Plan.  This budget also removes all remaining support for the eminent scholar program, at notable cost to the College.

          On the capital construction side, there is good news on several projects.

          The budget provides $2.25 million in FY 2013 for the preservation of the historic Brafferton, built in 1723 and last renovated in the early 1930s.  The Wren Building, the Brafferton and the President’s House constitute the oldest surviving colonial campus in America.  Thanks to generous support from private donors we now have sufficient money for the project to move forward this summer, jointly funded by donors and the taxpayers.

          The budget has another $13 million for several priorities in our six-year capital improvement plan: the fourth phase of the work to upgrade utilities, improvements to accessibility on campus, state-mandated improvements to Lake Matoaka’s dam and spillway, and storm water management.

          The budget authorized nearly $700,000 in detailed planning dollars for the renovation of Tyler Hall.  While the College will have to pay this upfront, we will be reimbursed when construction begins.  Once the state provides planning dollars for a construction project, the odds are that construction funding will follow.  The third phase of the Integrated Science Center is already on track for funding, and now that the $16.4 million Tyler project has initial state approval, we can turn our full attention to arts facilities.  They are the next major priority in the College’s six-year capital construction plan.

At VIMS, the General Assembly’s budget includes $8 million in FY 2013 to replace the Bay Eagle, the Institute’s prime research vessel now at the very end of its useful life.  VIMS also received planning funds for its Consolidated Marine Research Facility.

          Clearly, this budget news is encouraging.  But a solid financial foundation for William & Mary in the years ahead continues to hinge largely on our own efforts.  We must see to our own financial future.  The Virginia taxpayers cannot do it for us.  Our financial future will turn on (1) our capacity to keep delivering teaching and research of extraordinary excellence, (2) our capacity to be simultaneously excellent and cost-effective, (3)  our capacity to build powerful lifelong ties with William & Mary’s alumni and thereby take philanthropic giving to the College to “private Ivy” levels of participation and generosity, and (4) our capacity to generate more earned income based on the College’s strength in the market for applicants and its standing among national universities.  We’re moving on all four fronts.  

          The Governor will now respond to the General Assembly’s budget.  His views will be very important.  I will report again when there is more news to share. 

Cordially,

Taylor Reveley