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Raise state revenues for public education

The House Ways and Means budget proposal is so devastating to local services that even the promised influx of federal stimulus dollars will not be enough to close the gap.

It is no longer possible for the state to fund a responsible budget without tax increases. Revenues have fallen off the cliff. If public education is pulled off the cliff as well, then recovering from the current economic meltdown will be much harder and our state's economy will be damaged in the long term. It may seem counterintuitive, but the state must raise taxes and other revenues now to protect the future economic health and well-being of this Commonwealth.

State services, including public higher education, have been hit hard by cuts made in recent years. Both House 1 and the Ways and Means budget presume that federal stimulus dollars will be used to fund public higher education at the original fiscal year 2009 level. The Ways and Means budget also expects state employees to make significant sacrifices in their health insurance premium contribution levels.

Although Chapter 70 school aid is funded at the same level as in the current FY09 budget, other local aid funding is drastically reduced in the Ways and Means proposal. The Ways and Means budget level is down by $442 million – one-third (32 percent) lower than the level initially approved for FY09. Reductions of this magnitude would do severe and lasting damage to our public schools and other local services – and to the quality of life in our communities.

Tax increases may not be the popular course, but we all have a shared responsibility. We call on the Legislature to do the responsible thing and raise revenues to maintain Massachusetts’ world-class education system for the benefit of our students.