Education spending rises in Patrick budget

Governor Deval Patrick’s fiscal 2015 budget proposal increases education spending across the board and calls for the establishment of a commission that would provide a systematic review of the Foundation Budget formula.

The $36.4 billion budget, which the governor presented on January 22, would raise education spending for kindergarten through grade 12 by roughly 2.5 percent overall. Spending for early education and care would go up 9 percent, and spending for public higher education campuses would rise about 6.3 percent, on average.

The budget, as required by law, would keep every school district at foundation levels of spending, which are intended to ensure that communities have the funding they need to educate students adequately.

In addition, cost-of-living adjustment increases for current retirees would rise 3 percent on the first $13,000 in pension benefits.

MTA President Paul Toner applauded the governor for continuing to prioritize students and public education.

“We are pleased with the administration’s support for all levels of public education in the budget,” Toner said. “Governor Patrick’s proposal would help all students learn, and it seeks to keep public colleges affordable, which is crucial for working families.”

Toner added that he especially appreciates the outgoing governor’s inclusion of the Foundation Budget Review Commission, an MTA legislative priority, in his spending plan for the year beginning July 1.

“That will help us all work together to figure out the true cost of helping Massachusetts students succeed in preparing for college and meeting the demands of our 21st-century economy,” he said.

Toner said the MTA will work with its members to encourage adoption of a final 2015 budget that reflects “the best interests of our students and of our public schools, colleges and universities.”

In presenting the budget, the governor referred to education as “our calling card to the world” and “one of the best investments we can make in the future of our Commonwealth.”

Compared to last year’s budget proposal, which sought tax revenue to fund a major expansion of education and transportation programs, the 2015 budget outlines more modest revenue increases totaling an estimated $154 million, including an estimated $68 million in new tax revenue resulting from applying the state’s sales tax to candy and soda, postponing special tax breaks for businesses and closing other loopholes.

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