Mass. Gov’s Proposed Education Budget Draws Mixed Reactions

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday unveiled his proposed budget with a focus on education spending along with a companion bill.

But school activists are pushing for significantly more funding.

The 2020 fiscal budget includes more than $200 million in new state aid to education, with more than $1 billion over seven years going toward K-12 schools.

Lisa Guisbond, the executive director of Citizens for Public Schools and a leader of the Fund Our Future campaign, thinks the phase-in of money underfunds a generation of children.

“His proposal for a seven-year phase-in means that today’s sixth graders would face the same fate,” Guisbond states. “So we just don’t think it’s acceptable for another generation to be deprived of their constitutionally guaranteed right to a quality public education in this state.”

The Fund Our Future campaign supports the PROMISE and CHERISH acts, which advocate for $1.5 billion in education funding for K-12 and higher education this year.

Their figures are based on recommendations of two state commissions in 2014 and 2015.

Eileen McAnneny, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, views the budget a bit differently.

“The governor proposed several new revenue sources, which is surprising given that he ran as a no-tax governor,” she states. “So, that was interesting to see.”

Baker’s budget recommends a one-time increase in sales tax income by $306 million, among other new revenue sources. A lot of this would go toward education spending.

Baker also proposes giving the state education commissioner new authority to withhold funding from underperforming schools.

Guisbond disagrees with this approach.

“There’s a proposal in his budget to take resources away from K-12 students whose schools are struggling, when these are clearly the schools that need the most help,” she points out. “That’s very concerning and troubling.”

Last year, a Fair Share Amendment, or so-called millionaires’ tax, was slated to be on the November ballot. It was expected to raise $2 billion for education and transportation expenses.

But in June, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled the amendment was unconstitutional.

A legislative version of the amendment, which meets the constitutional requirements, was introduced this month.

Via Commonwealth News Service.