MTA president calls transportation-only bill “extremely disappointing”

MTA President Paul Toner issued the following statement on April 13, after the state Senate voted to approve a measure directing significant funding to transportation but no money to public education:

The Massachusetts Teachers Association is extremely disappointed that an opportunity to provide the Commonwealth with a progressive revenue package including much-needed investments in public education, transportation and other crucial services has been missed.

At the same time, we recognize that the Senate transportation measure is an improvement over the transportation bill passed several days ago by the House of Representatives. As a result, the MTA took no position on how senators should vote on the redrafted version of the bill that advanced through the Senate today.

The additional funding in the redrafted bill will provide vital revenue for our transportation system, which is essential for the promotion of continued economic growth in the Commonwealth. The other key ingredient for economic growth, however, is a highly educated and skilled work force.

We believe strongly that more substantial investments in public education, from early education to higher education, are desperately needed. These investments are critical to maintaining the high levels of education provided to Massachusetts students and to narrowing the pernicious achievement and opportunity gaps that exist throughout our Commonwealth – especially in our Gateway Cities.

Educators remain vitally concerned about the need to make progress in funding for both early childhood education and K-12 education, which the transportation-only measure does not achieve. We must also take steps to make public higher education more accessible and affordable.

MTA members are committed to continuing to fight for more revenues now and in the future. We look forward to working with the Legislature through the budget process and in future revenue bills to ensure that investments in our public education system – from prekindergarten through graduate school – can be made in time to benefit the students now attending our schools, colleges and universities.

It is imperative that we do everything possible to ensure opportunities for every student to succeed. Students get only one chance to receive an education, and action is needed now.

The MTA will closely examine the conference report on the House and Senate transportation measures that have been passed to date, and we trust that the final bill will adequately meet the Commonwealth’s needs in this important area.

We want to thank educators for all of their efforts during the revenue debate so far. MTA members’ phone calls, e-mails and postcards made a difference in the Senate.

We will continue to call for member advocacy as we move further into the state budget process and will update members and the public through website posts and other means.