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MTA responds to House budget

Statement of MTA President Catherine A. Boudreau in reaction to House Ways & Means Budget

Our students' future -- and perhaps the very future competitiveness of our state -- are the potential victims of the House Ways & Means budget as it is currently crafted. The committee members had other choices. Taxes should be raised and loopholes eliminated before the state makes cuts in public education that will reverse a decade of progress.

Having a quality system of public education is the most powerful antipoverty program, the most effective crime-fighting strategy, and the most successful economic development initiative for Massachusetts.

Providing adequate state resources for public education is not just good economics, it is the law. The 1993 Education Reform Act made an unambiguous promise to public school students in the Commonwealth --that it would provide “a consistent commitment of resources sufficient to provide a high quality public education to every child.” It is clear that this budget proposal does not meet that obligation.

From kindergarten right through our system of public colleges and the University, education is what drives our state's knowledge-based economy. Cutting state costs is one thing. But by cutting investments in education, you are taking away the very fuel of an economic recovery -- an educated workforce. Polling data shows that the public recognizes the value of investing in public education, and that strong investments in public education are a key strategy in maintaining our state's competitiveness in the global economy.

Drastic cuts to local aid would derail the progress we have made in the last decade of education reform. They would result in layoffs, larger class sizes, fewer students being able to afford college and the elimination of many programs and course offerings -- all things that we know beyond any doubt will have long-term negative effects on the quality of our system of public education.

When the choice is between raising revenues and dramatically cutting funding for public schools the public has consistently favored protecting education. Taxes should be raised and loopholes eliminated before the state cuts investments in public education, which would reverse years of progress.

There are no easy decisions when trying to close a deficit, but the House Ways & Means Committee strategy would be a bad choice for Massachusetts with  significant, long-term negative results. To avoid those consequences, educators, parents and others who value our system of public education will mount a vigorous effort to persuade lawmakers to raise the revenues required to avoid devastating the quality of public education in Massachusetts.