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Study Higher Education Efficiencies and Finance

SECTION 31.   (a) There shall be a special commission on higher education efficiencies and finance.
(b) The commission shall consist of the following members: the secretary of education, or his designee, who shall serve as chair of the commission; the commissioner of higher education, or his designee; the chair of the board of higher education; the chair of the University of Massachusetts board of trustees; the house and senate chairs of the joint committee on higher education, or their designees; the chairs of the house and senate committees on ways and means committees or their designees; a member of the house of representatives, whose district includes one of the commonwealth's institutions of public higher education, appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives; a member of the senate, whose district includes one of the commonwealth's institutions of public higher education, appointed by the president of the senate; a member of the house of representatives appointed by the minority leader; a member of the senate appointed by the minority leader; 7 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 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 of Massachusetts, 1 of whom shall be selected from a list of 3 nominees submitted by the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership; 1 person to be appointed by the secretary of housing and economic development; 1 person to be appointed by the secretary of labor and workforce development; a student representative on the board of higher education, chosen by the chair of that board; and a student representative on the University of Massachusetts board of trustees chosen by the chair of that board.
(c) The commission shall seek to define a sustainable model of financing for public higher education and the appropriate relative contributions of: (1) students and families, (2) the commonwealth, and (3) all other sources, including federal grants.
(d) In addition, the commission shall examine, report on, and make recommendations on the full range of issues affecting public higher education financing in the commonwealth, including but not limited to: (1) leveraging current efficiencies and reforms, such as performance incentive grants and the Partnership for Collaboration and Efficiencies initiative; (2) working to better understand and allocate all available resources to the campuses, including understanding current revenue structures; (3) rationalizing the definition of tuition and fees in a manner that is transparent and consumer friendly; (4) 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; (5) reviewing currently offered tuition and fee waivers, including which waivers are still of policy value, which should be the fiscal responsibility of campuses and which of the commonwealth, and addressing the loss of revenue to campuses from the implementation of tuition retention and a redefinition of tuition and fees; (6) integrating campus capital planning with operating expenditures; (7) evaluating the appropriate adjunct faculty to full-time faculty ratio, with a review of: (i) the use of adjunct or part-time faculty, as well as the pay, benefits, responsibilities of, and support services provided to, adjunct faculty under the current system; (ii) the number and use of full-time and tenure-track faculty across the system; and (iii) the ability of the current system to attract and retain highly qualified faculty and staff; and (8) 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. 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.
(e) Subject to appropriation, the commission shall hire temporary staff and support services. The first meeting of the commission shall take place within 45 days after the effective date of this act. The commission shall file a report containing its recommendations, including legislation necessary to carry out its recommendations, with the clerks of the house and senate not later than September 1, 2014.
 
 

Summary:
This section establishes a commission, chaired by the Secretary of Education, to study higher education efficiencies and finance.