PHENOM and all supporters of public higher education won a major victory when the Massachusetts House passed an amendment allocating a portion of the projected casino revenues to public higher education.
PHENOM has no position for or against legalized gambling in Massachusetts, but fought hard to have higher education included among the programs receiving dedicated funding from the proceeds.
The amendment allocates 14% of the projected $400 million annual revenues to an Education Fund, with 35% of that going to public higher education. This would total $19.6 million per year. The language of the bill tries to ensure that funding is not then simply removed from regular budgetary allocations. In addition, 17% of the one-time licensing fees are allocated to community colleges.
PHENOM played a key role in several ways. We convened a “Public Higher Education Summit”, including higher ed leaders, union leaders, key legislators, administration officials and others to plan and coordinate strategy. We worked closely with several legislators, most notably Rep. Ellen Story and Rep. Tom Sannicandro (House Co-chair of the Higher Education Committee) on the amendments. We mobilized our members to contact their legislators. It made a huge difference.
The amendments PHENOM supported would have added funds for higher education, and left alone the K-12 funds allocated in the legislation as originally filed. We are not happy that the version passed by the House reduced funds for K-12 education and we hope that the overall allocation for education can be increased in the Senate. We have re-convened the Summit to prepare and coordinate our efforts, which will continue as we start advocating for next year’s state budget.