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Education budget cuts are penny-wise and pound-foolish

Statement by MTA President Catherine A. Boudreau on Gov. Romney's Education Budget Cuts

Gov. Mitt Romney's proposed budget cuts will hurt public school children and students at our state and community colleges and the University of Massachusetts. Public education is a core service of state government and an investment in the future. By making these cuts, Gov. Romney is breaking his promise to protect essential services from the budget ax. In addition, these cuts will have a negative long-term impact on our economy.

The governor's cuts and proposed law changes will damage public education in several ways, as follows.

Reducing local aid by $114 million

As mayors throughout the state have been saying, any significant cut in local aid will have an impact on education, as well as other services. Although Gov. Romney did not cut Chapter 70 school aid directly, which we appreciate, his reductions in other local aid accounts will be felt in our schools because most communities supplement school spending with non-Chapter 70 funds.

Direct cuts to school-based programs: $25 million

Gov. Romney's deep cuts to three major education grant programs will directly affect low-income children. Giving young children the skills they need to learn to read is a "core government service," yet the governor cuts Early Literacy grants by $11.8 million. Providing poor children with programs to prepare them for school is a "core government service," yet he cuts the School Readiness grant program by $10 million. Ensuring that children aren't distracted from their studies by hunger pangs is a "core government service," yet he cuts the Universal Breakfast grant program by $3.1 million.

Higher Education cuts of $12.2 million

Providing all qualified students with access to affordable and high-quality higher education is a "core government service." Unfortunately, Gov. Romney is cutting the budgets of our state and community colleges and the University of Massachusetts by $12.2 million. These reductions come on top of the $114 million in cuts to higher education over the past two years. The ultimate result: More faculty and staff will be lost, course offerings will be reduced, programs will be cut, and tuition and fees will increase. Meanwhile, contracts for higher education faculty and staff remain unfunded.

Health insurance increases

Gov. Romney vowed not to raise taxes to deal with the budget crisis, but his proposed cut in government contributions to health insurance premiums for state and municipal employees is, in effect, a significant tax on public employees. If he wins legislative approval for his proposals, many employees will be paying more than $1,000 a year more for their health insurance -- a selective "tax" on one sector of society. We will urge the Legislature to reject these changes.

Education cuts are penny-wise and pound-foolish. The Legislature has the option of raising revenues in order to avoid them. Options for this year include tapping deeper into the Rainy Day Fund and borrowing against the Tobacco Trust Fund. For next year and beyond, it is critically important for the Legislature to adopt new sources of revenue. The governor must keep his promise to protect education and the other core government services he has pledged to maintain.

Public Education 9c Cuts: Summary
DOE

24,946,868

Higher education*

12,238,228

U Mass

6,238,228

State colleges

2,818,089

Comm colleges

3,181,911

Total education

37,185,096

*Excludes Tufts Veterinary School Note: Cuts to local aid (lottery and Additional Assistance)may affect local K-12 funding. These possible effects are not indicated here.
  • See also Line-by-line cuts  (Mass. Exec. Office of Administration and Finance. DOE = spreadsheet rows 145-147; Higher ed = spreadsheet rows 148-173.)