The University of Maine System Office of Government & Community Relations builds awareness and appreciation among local, state and federal officials for the important role of our public universities in serving and strengthening Maine’s citizens, communities and economy.
The office works proactively to build relationships with policymakers and their staff, leverage our world-class research and knowledge to inform their work, and be responsive to their requests for information. Central to this is preparing and facilitating our faculty, staff, students and partners to most effectively engage with elected officials and showing legislators university teaching, research and public service in action on our campuses and in our communities.
Consistent with the UMS Board of Trustees’ policy, the office develops and advances the strategic legislative agenda of the University System and its campuses. To do so most effectively, the office coordinates all official engagement by our employees with Maine’s elected officials, though employees may of course always do so as private citizens.
In partnership with the University of Maine’s Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, the office also delivers the UMS Faculty Fellows Program, an innovative six-month training and networking program designed to prepare an annual cohort of faculty leaders to more effectively engage external constituents on behalf of their work and Maine’s public universities.
The enacted State of Maine FY 20-21 budget includes a 3.35 percent increase to the University of Maine System’s current base funding (known as E&G) in the first year of the budget that carries into the second, resulting in an additional $12.9 million over the biennium, as well as targeted investments to expand early college and advance adult degree completion.
The funding levels passed by the Legislature reflect a $6.5 million cut to the UMS from the amount proposed by Governor Mills and supported by the Education Committee. The Appropriations Committee made the reductions along with other changes to the Governor’s budget so they could redirect funding to provide property tax relief and bring the total budget under $8 billion. With rising employee wages and benefits driving the University’s costs higher each year, flat funding in the second year of the biennium will considerably challenge our campuses as they begin preparing their FY21 budgets. It is intent to pursue additional funding to mitigate cutbacks and tuition increases if a supplemental budget is put forth.
Specifically, the enacted budget includes:
- $197.75 million each year for UMS E&G, reflecting an increase of $6.3 million in FY20 that carries into FY21 and will largely be distributed to campuses using the new, dynamic peer-based funding formula that in the coming fiscal year, results in record State support for our five small campuses.
- $2 million over the biennium to continue expanding UMS early college.
- $3 million over the biennium to advance UMS adult degree completion.
- $17.35 million annually for University-led research and development through the Maine Economic Improvement Fund (MEIF). This amount has been flat since FY16.
- $8.27 million annually to fund debt service, including $5 million each year for the new UMaine Engineering Education & Design Center authorized by the 128th Legislature as part of $50 million in State support for that project over 10 years.
- Flat funding of $914,650 for New Ventures Maine (part of the University of Maine at Augusta) in FY20 but an increase of $220,016 to the base in FY21 to $1,134,666.
While not a direct appropriation to the UMS, the budget also includes $3 million in new Maine State Grant funding over the biennium that will be made available for adult learners. The UMS joined the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) in advocating for this important funding that will complement our own efforts to help the 200,000 or so Maine adults with some college but no door-opening degree better prepare for workforce success.