Budget proposal a ‘victory’ for education, but more is needed

Budget proposal a ‘victory’ for education, but more is needed

MTA President Merrie Najimy said that it is a “victory” for public schools and colleges that they would receive level funding or better under the governor’s new budget proposal released yesterday, but that more needs to be done.

The governor’s proposal would rely heavily on one-time revenues to fund services, including local aid and education, at fiscal 2020 levels or higher. It must be approved or modified by the Legislature before a final plan is enacted.

“This is an important victory for the students, families and unionized educators in the Commonwealth who have long been organizing for a budget that will maintain basic education services during the pandemic,” said Najimy. “But we can’t let up now. Much more needs to be done to fund the public good to ensure that students and families come through this crisis healthy and with a promising future ahead.”

The MTA has identified three areas where the budget proposal falls short:

  • It still does not provide public schools with the Student Opportunity Act funding they require – now more than ever – to address the needs of low-income students and students of color. These students and their families have been hit hard by the pandemic and the recession. “The Student Opportunity Act was signed into law a year ago,” Najimy said. “The governor and the Legislature must honor the new formula.”
  • It calls for providing public colleges and universities with level funding or better, which is a high priority for the MTA. But given the rush by leaders at UMass and many state universities and community colleges to implement destructive furloughs, layoffs and program closures, the MTA is insisting that the budget include a requirement that there be no more furloughs and layoffs at our public colleges and universities.
  • It does not call for increased taxes on wealthy investors or profitable large corporations, but instead relies on one-time revenues. While the MTA supports using the so-called Rainy Day Fund for some funding this year, the association joins others in the Raise Up Massachusetts coalition in calling for progressive taxes so that education, transportation, housing, health and child care for all – along with other common good needs – can be supported and improved.

A budget "that says ‘steady as she goes’ is of course better than deep cuts and layoffs, but it is not a long-term investment in the common good."

MTA President Merrie Najimy

“We understand that these are challenging times,” said Najimy. “But the rich keep getting richer while the rest of society is suffering. Now is the time to rethink priorities and envision a better future. Before the pandemic, the gap between the very wealthy and everyone else was already huge. The billionaires have become immeasurably richer over the past seven months, while so many others have lost their jobs and are at risk of being evicted from their homes.

“It is time to address the gross and systemic inequities by race, class and gender that are threatening the viability of a functioning democracy and healthy, vibrant communities,” she said. “A budget and tax system reflect a society’s values. One that says ‘steady as she goes’ is of course better than deep cuts and layoffs, but it is not a long-term investment in the common good.”