MTA responds to Patrick budget

Comments on Education Funding in House 1
Massachusetts Teachers Association President Anne Wass

On preK-12 education: We appreciate that Governor Patrick has made public schools a priority in this very tight budget. He clearly recognizes how important our public schools are and understands that the state must take some of the school funding burden off of our cities and towns. However, we still have a way to go. A $200 million increase in Chapter 70 falls short of what's needed to get back to where we were six years ago.

On higher education: The governor acknowledges that public higher education is significantly underfunded in House 1. However, he indicated that he may seek supplemental funding when he files a preK-16 reorganization plan this spring. We will be seeking additional funding for higher education, which has never fully recovered from the deep cuts made earlier in this decade.

On tax proposals. To help fund public education, we strongly support the governor's plan to close certain corporate tax loopholes, as many other states have already done. The governor's plan is fair – and it is necessary to balance the budget. Such measures help our economy in the long run by shoring up our state's most important natural resource – an educated workforce. We also support Patrick's local option tax proposals. Communities should have the choice of adopting one or more of these taxes to help fund services and provide relief from local property taxes.

Facts of note:

  • Today, state Chapter 70 funding for education is $479 million less than in Fiscal Year 2002, when adjusted for inflation and changes in enrollment. With the proposed increase of $200 million, it would still be $386 million less than in FY02.
  • The MTA supports a bill that would increase Chapter 70 aid by $300 million in FY08 and would require the state to study how much it costs to provide all students with a quality, well-rounded education.
  • The MTA supports a higher education bill that would increase spending on public higher education by $400 million over 7 years, including $57 million in FY08.

PreK-12 Education Highlights in House 1:

  • Chapter 70: Increased by $200 million (a 5.7 percent increase)
  • Full-Day Kindergarten grants: Increased by $12.2 million, (a 45 percent increase
  • Expanded Learning Time grants: Increased by $6.5 million (a 100 percent increase)