Hearings on the Massachusetts state budget continued today at Greenfield Community College. Members of the Joint Ways and Means Committee heard testimony from education officials, municipal leaders and the public on Governor Deval Patrick’s proposal to fund education and local aid.
Secretary of Education, Matthew Malone, expressed support for the governor’s plan to spend 1.9 billion dollars, paid for through a 1% increase in the state income tax. Malone said the proposed revenue would assist in improving the state’s education system. At the top of that list — he says — is providing universal access to high quality education beginning at birth, which could prevent achievement gaps before they arise.
“Proficiency in literacy by the end of third grade makes an entire huge game changing difference in the outcomes of young people throughout their lives.”
Malone advised lawmakers to include the governor’s 131-million dollar investment in early education in their budgets. But some lawmakers like Representative William “Smitty” Pignatelli of Lenox are worried parts of the early education proposal could end up under-funded.
“I assume this would take place in the school buildings that are there right now and some school districts I’m sure will tell you they’re bursting at the seams right now and don’t have adequate space or staff to do that.”
Other lawmakers at the hearing expressed concerns about where transportation and charter school funding fit into the governor’s budget. The House is due to release its version of the budget in mid-April.