The Massachusetts Senate Ways and Means FY2011 budget proposal was released on Wednesday, and we have the following update. The Senate budget does not follow the Governor and House Ways and Means approach for funding the TURA program agencies. The Governor and House had included appropriations for DEP, OTA and TURI out of retained revenue from TURA fees, all under the DEP TURA line item. This approach makes it clear that TURA fees paid by firms will go to program services.
In contrast, the Senate Ways and Means proposal reverted to the language adopted last year in the FY2010 conference committee budget. It rolls up TURI into the UMass line item as an earmark with no specific funding mentioned. (OTA and DEP are funded with their traditional line items - although OTA is funded at a very low amount.) UMass made it clear last year that given a reduced budget and no specific line item for TURI, their priority needed to be on students. For FY10, UMass arranged to use one-time education stimulus funds for the Institute. For FY11, rolling TURI into the UMass line item makes TURI’s future uncertain once again.
Senator Eldridge has filed an amendment to the Senate Budget to adopt the House and Governor's approach of retained revenue at DEP to fund all 3 TURA agencies. It is Amendment #249: Toxics Use Reduction Institute. Amendments will be voted on during the week of May 24th.
Stayed tuned for more details.