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MA Senate Votes on Bill to Increase Education Funding

Both the Massachusetts House and Senate jointly released a proposal to increase future education funding. (Andy Connolly/Wikimedia Commons)
Both the Massachusetts House and Senate jointly released a proposal to increase future education funding. (Andy Connolly/Wikimedia Commons)
October 3, 2019

BOSTON – The Massachusetts Senate votes on a bill Thursday that would dramatically increase long term education funding – a priority that has stalled in past legislatures.

Senate Bill 2350, or the Student Opportunity Act, would phase in $1.5 billion over seven years toward K-12 education.

It would change the school funding formula to provide more financing to districts with high numbers of low-income students and English language learners, and also would cover more health care and special education costs – all without additional tax dollars.

Merrie Najimy, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, says the MTA largely supports the bill.

"We are very pleased that our most needy students, predominantly students of color, are finally going to get the funding that they deserve," she states.

The proposed financing is based on current revenues and the state's rainy day fund.

But critics say it could be hard to pay for in case of a recession. And on Wednesday, Gov. Charlie Baker suggested different, lower budget projections than those outlined in the Student Opportunity Act.

The bill is based on recommendations in 2015 from the Foundation Budget Review Commission, which found the Commonwealth is drastically under-funding public education.

In addition to more money for schools, the bill also recommends more accountability measures for districts with low test scores, which Najimy says is a concern.

"The second part of the bill continues to take away local control, by demanding that they write district plans for how the money will be spent," she points out.

Najimy says the commissioner of education, rather than the school districts, would decide on the plans. So, the MTA is proposing several amendments that would maintain local authority.

The Senate debates the bill and amendments starting at 11 a.m. If the bill passes, it moves to the House for a vote.

Disclosure: Massachusetts Teachers Association contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Children's Issues, Civic Engagement, Education. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Laura Rosbrow-Telem, Public News Service - MA