Massachusetts Fair Share

We stand up for a Massachusetts where everyone gets a fair shot, does and pays their fair share, and plays by the same rules.

House finalizing budget, some gains for early ed

The Massachusetts House has released its draft budget on April 13, and is working right now finalize it, considering the 1300+ amendments that were proposed.

For quite some time, we’ve been talking with legislators about their priorities, and now we can put dollar and cents to what they value. Massachusetts Fair Share has been working to increase funding available for early education, targeting funding for public programs and workforce support. We can pay for it, if we address loopholes in our tax laws that allow multinational companies to dodge state taxes by stashing profits in offshore tax havens.

The House’s $39.48 billion budget proposal, $76 million under the governor’s proposal, attempts to slow state spending first and foremost.

The House budget follows Baker’s proposal fairly closely. There are some differences in the area of early education, which we have been closely monitoring. Where Baker’s proposal featured no specific funding for the rate reserve for early educators, the House proposal allocates $10 million specifically for the rate reserve in hopes of hiring and retaining high-quality early educators, according to House Chairman Brian Dempsey.

We agree with that assessment: There is no bigger hurdle to the stability of the early education workforce than the far below market value reimbursement rates for children in the public voucher program.

Additionally, the House decreased the funding for the early education “Quality Improvement” by $2 million from Baker’s requested amount. Finally, Head Start’s line item was cut by $500,000.

The additional $10 million in funding for the rate reserve does aid in the recruitment and retention of high-quality educators, but it still leaves short of where we want to be. In Massachusetts, there is a turnover rate of 30% among early educators, which has a dramatic impact on the quality of early education that young children receive. We need additional investment in order to address this issue and make lasting change.

We are supporting 3 budget amendments right now to address changes we want to see in the House budget before it reaches a vote:

We had been asking for $40 million to stabilize the workforce, and are currently getting behind a budget amendment (put forward by Rep. John Scibak) to add another $10 million to raise that rate reserve amount to $20 million. Rep. Scibak also proposed restoring Head Start’s budget. Rep. Jay Livingstone also put forward an amendment to restore $2 million cut from quality improvement.

The House voted to approve $5 million of the additional $10 million rate reserve, bringing the total to $15 million in additional funds for early educators in the House. Rep. Livingstone’s amendment on quality improvement was also accepted.

Closing Loopholes Would More than Pay For Early Education Investments.

Rep. Josh Cutler has proposed an amendment to close a corporate tax loophole that allows big corporations to hide their profits in tax haven countries. Closing this loophole would generate $79 million for the state of Massachusetts, each year.

Early education is proven to provide a return on investment of $2-$7 per dollar invested. With an amendment poised to generate $79 million, research supporting the critical role of early education, and data showing the economic incentive for investing in young children, it is simply a matter of prioritizing early education over the tax dodging of big corporations. (You can read more about the policy here).

This amendment was defeated in the House, showing that we still have work to do to make sure that everyone pays their fair share in Massachusetts.

The House will continue to consider budget amendments through Thursday (most likely) and vote to send the budget to the Senate. Both of these give us an opportunity to push for a budget which lives up to our values – a Commonwealth where everyone gets a fair shot, and where everyone pays their fair share.

 

Blog by Leann Beard

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This entry was posted on April 26, 2016 by in early education.
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