Policy Update: November 20, 2011
Last week the Massachusetts Legislature completed its formal legislative sessions for calendar year 2011. As is typically the case, the end of formal sessions was marked by a flurry of legislative activity. Below is a summary of some of outcomes on some of the key issues for Northeastern.
Among the items passed by both the House and Senate in the last few days and sent to the Governor for his signature or veto were bills authorizing expanded casino gaming, reforming state pensions, combatting human trafficking, preventing discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of gender identity, and drawing new congressional districts.
Of note to colleges and universities, one proposal under consideration would have earmarked a portion of the revenues from new casino gaming licenses for state student financial aid programs. However, the final casino bill instead directs that revenue only to the state's community colleges. The legislature also competed congressional redistricting. Northeastern's Boston campus remains in Congressman Michael Capuano's District. The Burlington and Nahant campuses remain in Congressman John Tierney's District.
Of particular note to Northeastern, earlier this month the Legislature passed a supplemental budget that restored $250,000 in funding for the Massachusetts Service Alliance, which supports the Massachusetts Promise Fellowship, a statewide Americorps Program housed at Northeastern's Center of Community Service.
OUTLOOK FOR 2012
The University will continue to work with the Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development and legislative leaders to create a Science & Technology Research State Matching Grant Program. The program aims to incent private-public research collaborations most likely to secure federal funding, generate economic development, and create jobs. In addition to research funding, we will also be advocating for increased state funding for financial aid and community service. The legislature is also likely to tackle the Governor's Health Care Cost Containment legislation and we will bring Northeastern's expertise in allied health care to bare in that debate.
Finally, we continue to track legislation that remains pending to impose payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) schemes on non-profits or would tax university endowments. While it is unlikely that these bills will move forward next year, we continue to actively oppose them and remain engaged in keeping legislators informed about how Northeastern uses its resources to drive academic, research, and urban engagement initiatives that benefit the city, state and the nation.