Students win big in state budget

Students win big in state budget

Students won big in the state budget thanks to the infusion of funds that the generational victory of the Fair Share Amendment is bringing into state coffers.

MTA President Max Page and Vice President Deb McCarthy issued the following statement regarding the fiscal 2024 state budget approved by the Legislature.

“Students attending public schools and colleges won big in the state budget thanks to the infusion of funds that the generational victory of the Fair Share Amendment is bringing into state coffers.

FY24 Budget Highlights
  • Total Chapter 70 funding is $6.59 billion in FY24. That's $600 million more than last year – and $727 million more than our public schools what would have received had we not passed the Student Opportunity Act in 2021.
  • $150 million more in financial aid for our students attending public colleges, with a commitment to win free community college for all, the first step toward a debt-free public higher education system.
  • Access for many adjunct faculty and staff, and ESP members, to affordable health insurance through the state’s ConnectorCare program.
  • The end of a 60-day waiting period for public higher education employees to access health insurance.
  • In-state tuition rates for all Massachusetts residents, including immigrants.
  • $100 million to create more environmentally friendly school buildings.
  • $20 million for the MassReconnect program, to allow those 25 years and older to go to community college for free.
  • $12 million to plan for free community college starting in the fall of 2025.
  • For many school districts, a doubling from $30 to $60 per student in minimum aid.
  • On the transportation side of the Fair Share equation, more bus and ferry service, improvements to the MBTA, and funds to fix the roads and bridges we all travel on.

“The additional $550 million in state spending for preK through higher education is a significant first step toward ensuring every family in Massachusetts has access to high-quality public schools and the opportunity to pursue an advanced degree or gain professional training at a community college, state university or a UMass campus.

“The budget also includes more than $600 million in new state funding provided to cities and towns for public schools. The increase in so-called Chapter 70 funds is part of the ongoing rollout of the Student Opportunity Act passed in 2019.

“The MTA and its 117,000 members were instrumental in securing passage of the Fair Share Amendment, which will bring in upwards of $2 billion each year for public education and transportation needs. Union educators working in schools, colleges and universities across the state have been tireless advocates for the funding our students need, and we are seeing the benefits from the effort that went into passing the Student Opportunity Act in the Legislature and Fair Share at the ballot box.

“The new budget dramatically increases scholarships for people attending public colleges and makes community colleges cost-free for those 25 years and older, moving Massachusetts closer to providing debt-free public higher education. The new budget also improves access to health-care coverage for many adjunct faculty members who work at public colleges and universities.

“The budget makes school meals free-of-charge for every student and includes $100 million to help public school buildings and buildings on public higher education campuses become more environmentally friendly.

These are all important investments to build upon for the long-term prosperity of families living in the Commonwealth.”