The Massachusetts Teachers Association applauds public education investments and condemns tax cuts in the proposed state budget for the affluent. This week, the Massachusetts House released its proposed $56.2 billion budget for the fiscal year 2024.
It is marginally more significant than the $55.5 billion budget that Democratic Governor Maura Healey proposed in March, her first budget proposal since being elected in November. The Senate will then present its version of the spending plan before a final compromise is reached before the new fiscal year begins in July.
As the state budget takes another stride forward, labor organizations respond. Max Page is an architecture professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association. It represents 115,000 public school, college, and university educators over 400 locals in Massachusetts, making it the largest union in New England.
Overall, this budget – both the governor’s proposal and the house – reflects the impact of our resounding victory over the Fair Share Amendment, also known as the Millionaire’s Tax from last autumn. There are billions of dollars worth of new investments in public transportation, roads, bridges, and pre-kindergarten through higher education.
Overall, we are already witnessing the effects of that historic victory. There are numerous causes for concern, including the allocation of funds and the decision by the governor and the legislature to proceed with hundreds of millions of dollars in tax cuts for the state’s wealthiest residents.
The governor and the House have proposed fully funding the Student Opportunity Act, which is remarkable. This bill, for which the MTA worked very hard in 2019, is bringing more money each year to our public schools, particularly those in the poorest districts, such as Pittsfield, North Adams, Springfield, and Holyoke.
This is entirely funded and at its highest level this year in both the governor’s and the House budgets, which is fantastic. Additionally, the legislature decided to spend $1 billion – “b,” billion – of anticipated Fair Share revenues. The MTA believes there will be close to $2 billion available, but they are being cautious.
“While there are elements of this budget that we applaud, we are disappointed in Healey’s sizable giveaways to the very wealthy through proposed changes to the estate tax and short-term capital gains tax rate. These changes would give millions of dollars in tax cuts to the richest members of our society, millions that could be better spent on education, transportation, childcare, housing and clean and healthy communities for regular, working people.”
Thus, the House and the Senate budgets include new public education and transportation funds, which they anticipate will also be included in the Senate budget.
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Also included are roads, bridges, other transportation systems, additional funding for green structures in our schools, student aid, college scholarships, and substantial MBTA investments, roads, bridges, and other transportation systems. Thus, it is remarkable to observe.
The House cuts back on that and spends money in other places, some of which are quite beneficial. Still, MTA believes both should be covered — that is, additional investment in K-12 and a significant investment in high-quality debt-free public higher education.
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