"It is a miniscule slice of the state’s $27 billion budget - less than $1.5 million to fund an obscure environmental agency at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.
But the Toxics Use Reduction Institute is part of a state-mandated program that has reduced the use of hazardous substances by local manufacturers 41 percent in its 20-year history. That funding has been eliminated, and the institute’s 18 employees do not know where their next paycheck will come from - or whether it will come at all.
The institute is just one casualty of a fiscal crisis that has ravaged Massachusetts, forcing the state to raise taxes and cut funding. About two weeks ago, the Legislature’s budget conference committee decided to eliminate the Senate and House line items that would have provided the institute with $1.2 million to $1.4 million for fiscal 2010, leaving it to UMass-Lowell to fund the agency. The committee did not specify how much it expected the school to provide, but the question is urgent. The institute’s fiscal year ended yesterday, and it has no funding, effective today."