Statement by MTA President Barbara Madeloni on Governor Charlie Baker’s Proposed Budget for 2015-2016
Governor Baker’s proposed budget is troubling for its lack of vision and absence of meaningful investments in education and other vital community services. Although some of the governor’s ideas appear positive, his budget is ultimately a proposal that shortchanges students, families and our cities and towns by including cuts to kindergarten expansion programs and providing inadequate funding for our public schools, colleges and universities.
While keeping school districts at foundation levels, as is constitutionally required, Governor Baker’s proposed spending plan fails to address the fact that many of our communities already face significant shortfalls in the resources they need to provide children with the schools they deserve. Public education is the center of our democracy and the heart of our future, and the Commonwealth’s spending priorities must recognize that.
Where the Quality Full-Day Kindergarten Grant program is concerned, for example, Governor Baker is eliminating funding. This step would hinder expansion of full-day kindergarten programs and cause some districts to reduce access.
The MTA is also deeply concerned about other grant cuts that appear to target education programs in urban communities. The consolidation of numerous programs into an account called the “Partnership Schools Network” is disturbing and potentially very harmful to our public schools and students.
Governor Baker is unfairly seeking to further shift health care costs to many current active state employees and all future state retirees by increasing the percentage they pay for coverage through the Group Insurance Commission. In other areas, the governor’s proposal to “level-fund” numerous line items will actually result in cuts that damage our current services and our economic future.
The time has come for Massachusetts to turn the corner and look toward the revenues required to help working families and the communities they live in. Over time, the Commonwealth has implemented billions of dollars in tax cuts. In addition, we live in a state where residents with the highest incomes pay the smallest share of their incomes in state taxes.
Every budget represents choices, and the plan outlined today does not include the right ones for our students, families or communities.