An Act strengthening and investing in our educators, students and communities

Lead Sponsor: Senator Michael Rush (D-West Roxbury), with Representative Marjorie Decker (D-Cambridge) the leading House co-sponsor

  1. This bill helps students in all public schools in Massachusetts.
  2. This bill implements the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission.
    • Beginning in the 2018-2019 school year, state overall funding and allotment levels from the state to local school districts will reflect the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission.
    • Provides more resources to local districts to deal with issues such as class size, the cost of special education and school services.
    • Including the costs of implementing the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission, the annual additional cost to the state will be $203.1 million to $212 million.
  3. This bill requires Massachusetts to rethink its high-stakes testing regime.
    • Places a three-year moratorium on the use of high-stakes testing for graduation and school and/or district accountability.
    • Removes the use of state standardized test scores in evaluating teachers.
    • Creates a task force to examine standardized assessments and examine alternative methods for assessing student, teacher, school and district progress.
  4. This bill promotes child development.
    • Mandates recess as part of the school day for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.
    • Provides schools with the flexibility needed to implement language acquisition programs that best meet the needs of students.
    • Increases parent engagement in school offerings around language acquisition.
  5. This bill promotes community support and involvement in school improvement efforts.
    • Shifts focus in school and district improvement efforts from penalization to community-centered support.
    • Reduces the number of schools targeted for state intervention from 20 percent to 10 percent (the federal requirement is 5 percent), increasing local autonomy and giving the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education the ability to focus on schools and districts most in need of support.
    • Creates a new community-centered support program for schools identified as underperforming or chronically underperforming that will pinpoint barriers to learning for students in school and at home.
  6. This bill promotes workplace fairness.
    • Maintains employment rights within districts for teachers with professional status, ensuring that the most experienced and capable educators are involved in school improvement efforts.
    • Requires just cause in terminations.

An Act investing in public higher education

Lead Sponsors: Representative Paul Mark (D-Peru) and Senator Eileen Donoghue (D-Lowell)

  1. This bill makes much-needed investments in public higher education, which has seen its funding reduced by 14 percent since FY 2001, according to a recent Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center report.
  2. This bill helps students and faculty.
  3. This bill makes public higher education more affordable for Massachusetts families.
    • Creates a Finish Line Grant program that will pay for one year of tuition and fees, other than the first year, for Massachusetts residents.
    • Sets eligibility at 175 percent of state median family income, or roughly $125,000.
  4. This bill increases student access to tenure-track faculty.
    • Creates a fund and mechanism for increasing the number of tenure-track faculty on public college and university campuses.
    • Increases students’ ability to interact with teaching faculty outside of the classroom.
  5. This bill promotes workplace fairness.
    • Provides access to health insurance and state pension options for adjunct faculty who are teaching the equivalent of .5 time or more across all campuses.
    • Gives current adjunct faculty notice and priority consideration for these new full-time positions.
    • Requires per-course pay parity for adjunct faculty.

An Act to provide fair and affordable public retiree benefits

Lead Sponsor: Senator James E. Timilty (D-Walpole)

  1. This bill seeks to provide modest economic security for retired public servants.
  2. This bill ensures that pension benefits are better able to keep pace with inflation.
    • Increases the annual cost-of-living adjustment for retired state employees to $480 (currently $390).
  3. This bill provides municipal retirees increased stability in insurance premium payments.
    • Sets the retiree’s health insurance premium contribution share at the percentage the employee paid when he or she retired, bringing the benefit more in line with what is offered to state employees.
    • This bill protects retired public employees who are not eligible for Medicare.
      • Creates a mechanism to cap out-of-pocket expenses for those retirees who are not Medicare-eligible at $2,500 for individual coverage and $5,000 for family coverage.

    An Act establishing a family and medical leave insurance program

    Lead Sponsors: Senator Karen Spilka (D-Ashland) and Representative Ken Gordon (D-Bedford)

    1. This bill creates a paid family and medical leave program for Massachusetts residents.
      • Ensures that Massachusetts workers are not forced to choose between work and their own health needs or the well-being of their children and other family members.
      • Creates a Paid Family and Medical Leave insurance program for workers to care for a family member in the event of the birth, adoption or fostering of a child, or the serious health condition of a family member.
      • Allows for Temporary Disability Leave for the worker’s own non-work-related serious health condition.
      • Includes leaves related to military deployment, preparation for deployment and time off from deployment.

    An Act to improve the Commonwealth’s economy with a strong minimum wage and a strong tipped minimum wage

    Lead Sponsors: Representative Daniel Donahue (D-Worcester) and Senator Ken Donnelly (D-Arlington)

    1. This bill will make sure that workers earn a living wage of $15 an hour so they can make ends meet and feed their families.
      • Increases the minimum wage by $1 per year, bringing it up to $15 per hour by 2021.
      • Phases up the tipped minimum wage over an eight-year period to $15 per hour.

    Note: Legislation for the Raise Up constitutional amendment did not need to be refiled in the current session. The amendment, another key item in MTA’s legislative agenda, would dedicate approximately $2 billion annually to public education and transportation. Revenue would be raised by adding a 4 percentage point tax on the portion of a filer’s annual income over $1 million.

    The full text of the bills can be accessed by clicking here.