Public colleges want more funding for building repairs

Governor proposing $190M for capital projects at colleges, but some say that isn't enough

BOSTON (WWLP) – The buildings at many of the state’s public colleges and universities are more than 50 years old, and are in need of repairs. Top education leaders are calling on the state to invest more in building improvements.

The Baker Administration’s capital budget includes more than $190 million for higher education next fiscal year. More than 80% of this investment is expected to go toward maintenance and modernization projects for academic buildings; many of which date back to the 1960s.

But top education leaders say it’s not enough to address a growing maintenance issue. Massachusetts public colleges and universities have a maintenance backlog of about $5.5 billion, according to Secretary of Education James Peyser.

In 2008, the state’s Higher Education Bond Board authorized $1.1 billion for UMass projects over 10 years. UMass’ management is asking the state to pass another higher education bond.

“The current annual spending for the UMass system has only been sufficient to prevent our deferred maintenance backlog from growing,” said Lisa Calise, Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance at UMass.

The state has helped fund major projects for UMass Amherst, including a $160 million cutting-edge life sciences laboratory.