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Budget Summary FY2014

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Outside Section 165
Data Current as of:  9/11/2013

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Commission in Higher Ed Quality and Finance

SECTION 165.   (a) There shall be a special commission on higher education quality, efficiencies and finance to consist of: the secretary of education, or a designee, who shall serve as chair; the commissioner of higher education or a designee; the president of the University of Massachusetts system or a designee; the house and senate chairs of the joint committee on higher education or their designees; and 6 persons to be appointed by the secretary of education, 1 of whom shall be selected from a list of 3 nominees submitted by the Massachusetts Teachers Association, 1 of whom shall be selected from a list of 3 nominees submitted by the council of presidents of the state university system, 1 of whom shall be selected from a list of 3 nominees submitted by the Massachusetts Community Colleges executive office, 1 of whom shall be selected from a list of 3 nominees submitted by the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts, 1 of whom shall be selected from a list of 3 nominees submitted by the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership and a student representative currently enrolled in a public higher education institution in the commonwealth.

(b) The commission shall seek to define the requirements of a high quality system of public higher education that meets the needs of students and the commonwealth and to define a sustainable model of financing such a system and the appropriate relative contributions of students and families, the commonwealth, and all other sources, including federal grants.

(c) The commission shall examine, report on and make recommendations on the full range of issues affecting public higher education quality and financing including, but not limited to: (i) leveraging current efficiencies and reforms, including performance incentive grants and the partnership for collaboration and efficiencies initiative; (ii) working to better understand and allocate all available resources to the campuses, including understanding current revenue structures; (iii) enhancing operational efficiencies in the areas of human resources, purchasing and information technology and eliminating redundancies; (iv) rationalizing the definition of tuition and fees in a manner that is transparent and consumer friendly; (v) re-evaluating the historical financing mechanisms that now restrict coherent fiscal planning, including, but not limited to, tuition retention and the fiscal structure of continuing education classes; (vi) reviewing currently offered tuition and fee waivers, including: (1) which waivers are still of policy value; (2) which should be the fiscal responsibility of campuses and which should be the fiscal responsibility of the commonwealth; and (3) addressing the loss of revenue to campuses from the implementation of tuition retention and a redefinition of tuition and fees; (vii) integrating campus capital planning with operating expenditures, including an itemized review of expenditures of $50,000 or greater; (viii) evaluating the appropriate adjunct faculty to full-time faculty ratio, with a review of the use of adjunct or part-time faculty, adjunct faculty under the current system, the number and use of full-time and tenure-track faculty across the system and the ability of the current system to attract and retain highly qualified faculty and staff; (ix) assessing the number of developmental students being served under the current system and at which institutions, and the adequacy of academic and related support systems in place for both the number and types of students served; and (x) maximizing student investment while attending an institution for public higher education. In particular, the commission shall recommend improved efficiencies of operation in public higher education that could lead to cost savings and improvements to fiscal controls, planning and cost allocation. Subject to appropriation, the commission may hire temporary staff or consultants to assist with the research and development of any policy recommendations of the commission. The first meeting of the commission shall take place within 45 days after the effective date of this section. The commission shall file a report detailing its recommendations, including legislation necessary to carry out its recommendations, with the clerks of the senate and house of representatives on or before June 30, 2014.