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MTA President Paul Toner on the governor's proposed budget

The following statement was issued by Massachusetts Teachers Association President Paul Toner on the governor’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which was released on January 26:

Governor Deval Patrick deserves credit for his efforts to maintain state spending for public education and our students during these very difficult financial times. The budget proposal released today includes $3.99 billion in Chapter 70 aid for Massachusetts school districts and provides additional funds for programs aimed at closing the achievement gap so that all students are given the same opportunity to succeed.

There are many variables, however, and it is important to see how the loss of federal stimulus funds will play out across the state.

We are very concerned about the proposal’s impact on public higher education. The budget, though it keeps state funding steady, would result in a $71 million reduction in funding for our state colleges and universities as a result of the exhaustion of federal stimulus dollars.

The loss of federal assistance is going to have a real impact on our state – especially on the thousands of students who attend our community colleges, state universities and UMass. Any reduction in funding could lead to program cuts and rising tuition and fees. These developments would hinder our future economic growth, since our institutions of public higher education serve as the engines for our economy and are key to our state’s growth and prosperity.

In the days ahead, we will carefully review and analyze the governor’s proposals. Throughout the budget process, we will work with both the governor and the Legislature to find ways to adequately fund education at all levels.

We must do whatever we can to ensure that students are not the victims of our Commonwealth’s long-term economic problems. The Massachusetts Teachers Association pledges to be an active participant in achieving that goal.