By RUTH DALRYMPLE
The Virginia Commonwealth Assembly adjourned last week without passing a budget for the next two fiscal years, which could directly affect the University of Mary Washington’s budget.
According to Paul Messplay, the executive director of budget and financial analysis, the commonwealth general funds account for roughly 22 percent of the university’s spending allowance for both years.
The state assembly will need to reconvene in Richmond before July 1, which is the start of the fiscal year. If the budget is not passed before July 1, the Virginia government could experience a partial government shutdown, according to the Washington Post. A dozen negotiators from both the House of Delegates and the Senate have remained behind to try to find a compromise. The assembly will most likely reconvene on Mar. 21 to vote on the proposed budget, according to the Washington Post.
“As a state supported institution, the absence of a budget by July 1 could have significant consequences for the university’s operations, affecting everything from payroll to our ability to pay our utility bills,” said Messplay.
The budget debate broke down into partisan disputes in the evenly split Senate, which has 20 Republicans and 20 Democrats, according to the Washington Post.
The Democrats in the Senate have voted against two of the three proposed budgets and threatened a third no-vote after the Republicans refused to grant them more seats on committees or increase additional spending in the budget.
The Democrats want $300 million for further construction of Metrorail’s new Silver Line to Dulles International Airport and $65 million for Northern Virginia schools to attract non-teaching staff.
According to the UMW Budget and Financial Analysis Office’s budget plan, the University of Mary Washington received $21,689,364 from the commonwealth for the current 2011-2012 school year and in 2010-2011 accepted $21,177,740 from the commonwealth.
Sophomore Marlene Caceres had her own concerns in regards to the budget troubles. “I’m a little bit scared being a person who’s dependent on the school for scholarships and also on the state for other scholarships,” said Caceres.
If the state cuts money that could mean they have less money for scholarships and the university could raise tuition prices too.”
Fellow sophomore Amber May added, “Honestly, I wish the government would be a bit more responsible.”