Education is key to this state’s future prosperity

We are hugely relieved and grateful that public schools, local aid and public higher education were largely spared from the budget ax today, though our hearts go out to all the residents who will be losing vital public services and all the public employees who will be losing their jobs.

In these extremely difficult times, the governor has joined us in recognizing that education is key to this state’s future prosperity. By sparing education now, Governor Patrick is helping to ensure that we will be in much better shape to rebuild for the future when the economy finally rebounds. He recognizes that our greatest natural resource is an educated citizenry. Earlier this month, an announcement was made that Massachusetts students are once again first in the country on a major national exam – the National Assessment of Educational Progress. That is an accomplishment worth fighting for.

Despite today’s good news for students and educators, we are deeply concerned about the upcoming fiscal year now that the state has allocated the vast majority of the federal education stimulus money that was intended to last us through fiscal year 2011. Even today, the governor announced that higher education is only being spared by allocating $62 million in federal stimulus funds to offset cuts in that account.

In light of this reality, we strongly oppose a proposed ballot initiative to drastically cut the state sales tax, and we urge legislators to support revenue-raising measures to see us through these difficult times.

Although education does better under these 9C cuts than many other services, public education will be affected by several cuts that were made:

  • Regional School Transportation: $18 million (44%).
  • Special Education Circuit Breaker: $7 million (5%).
  • Charter School Reimbursements: $5.2 million (6.5%).