MTA president blasts Romney education proposals

MTA President Catherine A. Boudreau slammed Gov. Mitt Romney's  education budget proposals as "an attempt to balance state spending on the backs of students and educators."

The proposal would reduce access to higher education while eliminating vital programs for students in the public schools, she said.

She described the higher education proposal as  "a continuing fiscal assault on students' access to our community colleges, state colleges and university."

Boudreau said that Romney's proposed cuts, "on top of the more than $114 million slashed from public higher education over the past two years, will hurt students by forcing higher tuitions and fees, larger classes, fewer courses and fewer full-time faculty and staff."

She also said Romney's plan to hike health insurance premium costs for state employees would "add insult to injury for the 12,000 higher education employees who have not had their negotiated pay raises funded.

"These ill-considered hikes would mean a very real and very deep pay cut for these people," she said.

She also decried Romney's "wholesale assault on public employees' collective bargaining rights."

Boudreau called Romney's higher education plan "a privatization scheme gone wild" and one that was "hatched with virtually no consultation with or input from the major stakeholders affected: higher education faculty, staff and students.

"His plan to sell off UMass/Amherst, Mass. College of Art and the Mass. Maritime Academy would be bad policy even if it did make economic sense. But this doesn't," Boudreau said.

"Privatization will mean skyrocketing tuitions for students and less access and affordability for those who depend on the excellence of our institutions of public higher education."

Where pre-kindergarten through grade 12 education is concerned, Boudreau focused on the elimination of several critically important education grant programs, including those supporting full-day kindergarten ($28 million), class size reduction ($18 million), early literacy ($18 million), and transportation ($71 million).

"On top of the education cuts enacted in January," said Boudreau, "these reductions will place a tremendous burden on school districts, impairing their ability to provide the quality education our students need and deserve."

Boudreau also noted that the $232 million reduction in non-Chapter 70 local aid will cause additional cuts in public school spending.