Our legislative priorities articulate the MTA's long-term vision and reflect our shared commitment to public education, fairness for all workers in our communities, and a secure retirement for public-sector employees.
Legislative priorities address funding and a range of issues
This legislative session, MTA members and supporters forcefully advocated for — and won — more equitable funding for our students and our public schools.
The passage of the Student Opportunity Act, which was signed into law in November, is a major victory for students, for educators, for communities and for racial and economic justice. When the new law is fully phased in, it will increase annual state funding for public education by $1.5 billion over inflation. Much of that money will go to low-income districts — disproportionately communities of color — that have been left behind by our Commonwealth’s outdated and inequitable funding system.
Earlier in the session, the MTA applauded the passage of a collective bargaining rights bill filed in response to the anti-union 2018 Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME. State legislators in both the House of Representatives and the Senate voted overwhelmingly to override the governor's veto to enact An Act Relative to Collective Bargaining Dues.
Along with legislation addressing the Fund Our Future campaign, the MTA's legislative priorities call for increasing funding for public higher education, ending the destructive impact of high-stakes testing, addressing fairness issues for adjunct faculty members, and helping to provide
educators with a fair and dignified retirement.
MTA Legislative Priorities
Supporting Our Students
An Act creating a grant program on alternative assessment models (Senate)
An Act to place a moratorium on high-stakes testing (House)
This legislation would address the destructive impacts of standardized testing by:
Placing a three-year moratorium on high-stakes testing, during which no department shall implement or mandate state standardized assessment to satisfy accountability provisions.
Requiring the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to create and implement a grant program to support the establishment of district task forces to develop and pilot alternative assessment models. The purpose of the grant program is to enable educators, students, parents and local districts to establish a vision and goals for their public schools.
Directing the state auditor to audit DESE this year and, going forward, once every three years. The audit would include a review of contracts between DESE, Measured Progress and Pearson, the key organizations involved in Massachusetts student assessment.
Lead Sponsors: Senator Michael Rush (D-West Roxbury) and Representative Marjorie Decker (D-Cambridge)
An Act to guarantee debt-free public higher education
This legislation would guarantee free public higher education as a right for all residents by:
Directing the Board of Higher Education to create a grant program to pay the equivalent of tuition and mandatory fees to an eligible student at any Massachusetts public college or university, or certificate, vocational or training program at a public institution, up to the equivalent of four years of public college or university.
Lead Sponsors: Senator James Eldridge (D-Acton) and Representative Natalie Higgins (D-Leominster)
An Act relative to physical and social recess in schools
An Act relative to physical and social recess in schools (Senate)
An Act relative to recess for elementary school children (House)
This legislation would mandate at least 20 minutes of unstructured free-play recess per school day for public school students in grades K-5. It would also prohibit public schools from decreasing the amount of time allotted for recess due to changes in standards or curriculum.
Lead Sponsors: Senator Michael Rush (D-West Roxbury) and Representative Marjorie Decker (D-Cambridge)
Proposal for a legislative amendment to the Constitution to provide resources for education and transportation through an additional tax on incomes in excess of one million dollars
A proposed legislative amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution that would create an additional 4 percent tax on annual income over $1 million, raising approximately $2 billion a year for public education and transportation.
Lead Sponsors: Senator Jason Lewis (D-Winchester) and Representative James O’Day (D-West Boylston)
An Act to ensure fair public higher education workplaces
This omnibus bill that would ensure fair public higher education workplaces by:
Providing adjunct faculty with access to health insurance and state pensions, provide adjuncts pay parity with equivalent full-time faculty, and give them priority consideration for new or vacant full-time positions.
Establishing a minimum state contribution of 7.5 percent of an employee’s salary to the mandatory OBRA retirement plan for those who work less than half time.
Streamlining the process through which public higher education collective bargaining agreements are validated and funded by having completed contracts go directly to the Legislature for approval.
Eliminating the 60-day waiting period for newly hired employees to begin receiving health insurance coverage through the GIC.
Lead Sponsors: Senator Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville) and Representative Paul Mark (D-Peru)
An Act to provide fair and affordable public retiree benefits
This legislation would help to provide public-sector retirees with a more secure retirement by:
Immediately increasing the base on which the annual state pension COLA is calculated, from $13,000 to $18,000, and over time raising that base to align with Social Security’s maximum allowable benefit for an individual worker.
Freezing municipal retirees’ health insurance premium contribution rates at the rates paid on the day of their retirement.
Capping out-of-pocket expenses for non-Medicare eligible retirees.
Lead Sponsors: Senator Julian Cyr (D-Truro) and Representative Daniel Donahue (D-Worcester)
An Act relative to the teachers’ retirement system
An Act relative to the teachers’ retirement system (Senate) An Act relative to the Massachusetts teachers’ retirement system (House)
This legislation would fix a RetirementPlus enrollment issue impacting certain members of the Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement System who have previous creditable service from another Massachusetts contributory retirement system.
Lead Sponsors: Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) and Representative Tackey Chan (D-Quincy)
An Act to ensure minimum wage and paid family medical leave benefits for municipal employees
This legislation would ensure that municipal employees are covered by the Commonwealth’s minimum wage and paid family and medical laws. Currently, the state’s minimum wage law does not apply to municipal workers and municipalities are not required to participate in the paid family and medical leave program.
Lead Sponsors: Senator Michael Brady (D-Brockton) and Representative David Rogers (D-Cambridge)
An Act relative to group insurance commission procurement
This legislation would ensure that proposals and bids made or received by the Group Insurance Commission, as well as the commission’s communications made in connection with reviewing proposals and bids, are public records.
Address high-stakes testing. A comprehensive
bill would end the high-stakes nature of statewide
standardized assessment — including graduation
requirements, the use of test scores in educator
evaluations, and school and district leveling —
and establish pilot programs that encourage up to
25 percent of districts to develop and implement
alternative local assessment models in consultation
with educators and parents. The legislation also
directs the state auditor to review contracts involving
the Department of Elementary and Secondary
Education, Measured Progress and Pearson, the key
organizations involved in student assessment.
Promote health and safety in schools. This
legislation would mandate at least 20 minutes of
unstructured free-play recess per school day for
students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Another
bill would seek to ensure that public school facilities
are kept at safe and comfortable temperatures
throughout the year.
Protect retired educators. The legislation would
immediately increase the cost-of-living base from
$13,000 to $18,000 and, over time, raise the base
to align with Social Security’s maximum allowable
benefit for an individual worker. That figure was
$34,332 in 2019. The bill would freeze municipal
retiree health insurance premium contribution rates
at the rate paid on the day of retirement and cap out-of-
pocket expenses for retirees who are not eligible
for Medicare. The legislation would also provide
a solution to a RetirementPlus enrollment issue
impacting certain members of the Massachusetts
Teachers’ Retirement System.
Address workplace fairness on college
campuses. This omnibus bill would ensure
workplace fairness for adjunct faculty members
by providing access to health insurance and state
pension options, requiring pay parity with equivalent full-time faculty, establishing a state contribution of 7.5 percent of
an employee’s salary to the mandatory OBRA Plan retirement account for those who work less than half time, and giving current adjunct faculty members notice and priority consideration for new or vacant full-time positions. The legislation also would streamline the process through which public higher education collective bargaining agreements are validated and
funded by having completed contracts go directly to
the Legislature for approval, and it would eliminate
the 60-day waiting period for newly hired employees
to begin receiving health insurance coverage through
the Group Insurance Commission.
Ensure debt-free public higher education.
This bill would direct the Board of Higher Education
to create a grant program to pay the equivalent of
tuition and mandatory fees for all eligible students at
any Massachusetts public college or university — or
costs for a certificate, vocational or training program
at a public institution — for the equivalent of four
years of college.
Protect public employees. The legislation
would establish a commission on the GIC to achieve
transparency in contracts involving health care costs
and pharmaceutical pricing and call for consideration
of “reference-based pricing” as a means of making
medical costs reasonable and uniform, as well as for
examining the value and viability of a public-option
health insurance plan that would be available to
public and non-public employees in Massachusetts.
The legislation also would make applicable to all
municipal employees the Commonwealth’s recent
minimum wage hike to $15 an hour and access to
paid family and medical leave.
Promote labor rights. Legislation written
in coordination with the AFL-CIO Public-Sector
Task Force includes bills that would provide
public employees with the right to strike, add
additional labor seats to the GIC and ensure greater
transparency in GIC decision-making, and protect
the rights of workers and unions.
Revive the Fair Share Amendment. Legislation
backed by Raise Up Massachusetts, of which the MTA
is a member, would revive the Fair Share Amendment.
This legislation would amend the Massachusetts
Constitution, creating an additional tax of four
percentage points on annual income over $1 million.
A legislative constitutional amendment requires two
consecutive constitutional convention votes by a
majority of the Legislature. If those approvals occur,
the measure would be placed on the ballot in 2022.