State Budget Priorities
On January 26, 2022, Governor Charlie Baker released his Fiscal Year 2023 state budget recommendation, or H.2, which kicked off the Commonwealth’s annual state budget process.
The governor’s proposal rightfully follows the six-year phase in of the Student Opportunity Act adopted by the Legislature in the FY2022 state budget. However, it only partially follows through on funding certain provisions within the SOA related to the charter school reimbursement and special education circuit breaker line items, and does not take into account the true rate of inflation in funding Chapter 70 aid to local school districts. The governor’s proposal also fails to make the substantial investments in the Commonwealth’s colleges and universities that are needed to support students, particularly students of color and working class students, as well as campus operations.
Importantly, the governor’s budget recommendation does make the required transfer to the state and teachers’ retirement systems and authorizes a 3 percent cost-of-living-adjustment on the first $13,000 in pension benefits for retired members of the state and teachers’ retirement systems. In addition, the budget calls for an additional $250 million to be transferred to the state and teachers’ retirement systems should certain revenue benchmarks be met.
Over the coming weeks, the MTA will be strongly urging the House and Senate to address the shortcomings in the governor’s budget and to meaningfully invest in PreK-16 public education as they develop their own FY23 budget proposals. The House is expected to release and pass its budget proposal in April, with the Senate expected to follow in May. The goal is to have a final budget passed by both branches and signed into law by the governor by the start of the new fiscal year on July 1, 2022.
The American Rescue Plan Act, signed by President Joe Biden in March 2021, provides substantial resources for Massachusetts schools, colleges, universities and local governments. In addition, the Commonwealth directly received billions in discretionary funds that were made available to the Legislature to appropriate.
The MTA fought for and won nearly $400 million in funding for public schools and colleges in the ARPA spending bill passed by the Legislature in December 2021, which appropriated $2.55 billion of the available ARPA funds. The spending bill included funds for building maintenance projects, improved air ventilation systems, a program to increase educator diversity, and expanded college and vocational school workforce training programs, as well as funds to expand programs to address campus hunger and college student behavioral and mental health needs.
Approximately $2.3 billion of the Commonwealth’s discretionary ARPA funds were not included as part of the December 2021 spending bill. The MTA continues to urge that Legislature appropriate these remaining funds in a way that builds upon the investments already made and that seek to address other significant challenges currently facing students, educators, and families in our PreK-16 public education system.
MTA Fiscal Year 2023 State Budget & American Rescue Plan Act Priorities
The FY 2023 state budget cycle and the expected appropriation of additional funds from the American Rescue Plan Act provide an unprecedented opportunity for the MTA to continue our campaign to end the decades of disinvestment in public education. This campaign has seen major victories in recent years with the passage of the Student Opportunity Act in 2019 and through the December 2021 ARPA spending bill that included significant investments in college student financial aid, food insecurity and mental health services, and substantial funding for public school, college and university building renovations and safety.
Now is the time to continue this important work by advocating for the full and on-time implementation of the SOA and by turning our attention to investments in public higher education that will address the urgent needs of our institutions, faculty and staff, and the students they serve. Together, we can build on what we have already achieved and fight to solve other significant challenges that currently face students, educators, and families in our preK-16 public education system.