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Senate budget plan falls far short

Like the House budget before it, the Senate budget plan released on May 15 falls far short of the governor’s game-changing proposal because legislative leaders decided not to seek the income tax increases required to meet the state’s transportation and education needs. The Senate plan increases funding for K-12 education over the House budget, but it cuts spending for public higher education significantly below House levels.

The MTA believes that our state’s economic future would have been better served by an increase in the income tax, along with an increase in the personal exemption to reduce the impact on low- and middle-income families and seniors. The $2 billion in new revenues we sought would have enabled the state to pay for significant improvements in early education, K-12 public schools and our badly underfunded public higher education system.

The biggest blow is that the Senate budget calls for $68 million less for public higher education campuses than the House plan. Although the Senate proposal would ensure that the campuses could meet their contractual obligations, it would undermine their ability to restore services and full-time faculty positions. It could also lead to yet another increase in student fees.

On the positive side, the Senate’s K-12 spending plan is $45 million higher than the House plan. It would keep all districts at their foundation budget levels and provide a minimum of $25 per pupil in new funds. On the other hand, the Senate plan cuts local aid by $21 million compared to the House budget, meaning cities and towns would likely have to move funds from school accounts to municipal accounts to meet their other obligations.
               
On early education and care, the Senate budget is $13 million better than the House plan, but that just amounts to a slight increase over the current year. The governor’s plan, by contrast, would have provided early education services to all four-year-olds who are on the waiting list, ensuring that more students are ready for kindergarten when they come to school.

For more details about the FY14 budget proposed by the Senate Ways and Means Committee, visit the Mass Budget and Policy Center . The MTA will post information about amendments when it is available. Check out the MTA's Education Funding News section for additional resources.