MTA urges Legislature to close loopholes

Massachusetts Teachers Association President Anne Wass and fellow educators from Worcester and Whitman testified March 5 at the State House in support of legislation that would address tax fairness by closing corporate tax loopholes that reduce the amount of revenue available for public schools and public higher education in the Commonwealth.

Wass was joined by fellow MTA members Cheryl DelSignore, president of the 2,500-member Educational Association of Worcester, and Beth Stafford, a social studies teacher at Whitman Middle School. The three teachers, along with Thomas Gosnell, president of the American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts, addressed the members of the Joint Committee on Revenue.

"Closing corporate tax loopholes won't solve all of our state's financial problems, but it is a step toward ensuring that our students do not pay the ultimate price in lost educational opportunities," Wass told the committee. “After all, a child only goes through each grade once. You can’t easily repair the damage done when a year or more of excellent education is lost.”

This is reasonable tax policy, Wass noted, because it requires businesses to pay their fair share for the government services on which they rely. Those services include high-quality schools and colleges.

State aid for public schools is $541 million less than it was six years ago, when adjusted for inflation. As a result, schools have had to cut services, reduce staff, increase class sizes, eliminate courses and increase fees paid by families. Public higher education has also been subjected to substantial cuts. When inflation is taken into account, funding is down 23 percent from 2001 for the state’s public colleges and the University of Massachusetts.

DelSignore, a longtime Worcester public school teacher, testified about the difficulties that students and educators in the district are facing because of the loss of millions of dollars in state aid. The jobs of many educators have been eliminated, she said, and programs offering a range of student services – including reading intervention and MCAS support – have been cut.

“Our students are our most precious resource,” DelSignore said. “By investing in their futures, we are contributing to the economic growth of Worcester and cities across Massachusetts. Closing corporate tax loopholes will help provide students with the educational opportunities and options they need to compete in this global economy.”

Stafford also focused on the needs of students.

“I am here today testifying in support of proposals to close corporate tax loopholes because it all comes down to our students and our schools,” she told the legislators. “Our children have one chance, and we must help them make the most of it.”