The Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts recognizes the painful cuts in many areas of Governor Patrick’s budget proposal and thanks the Governor for mostly holding the line on higher education after several years of catastrophic cuts. At the same time, we urge the state to make the real long term investments in public higher education that the Governor stressed, and to have an adult conversation about adequate and fair revenues to pay for them. “In presenting his budget, the Governor said that we need a ‘growth strategy’ to get out of the recession,” says PHENOM organizer Alex Kulenovic. “Investment in public higher education is the best of all growth strategies. Unfortunately, this budget still falls far short of basic needs, let alone investment in the future. While we applaud this strategy where investments have been made, such as K-12 education, that effort is undercut as long as higher education barely scrapes by and becomes less affordable to those same high school graduates.”
Ryan Manita, student at Middlesex Community College says, “Public higher education is not only important to me, it is important to the thousands of students across this state who have the highest of hopes in climbing the ladder of social mobility, being citizens who contribute to their communities socially and economically, and living a life with meaning”
Max Page, PHENOM Vice-President, said the organization was disappointed by the absence of any progressive tax proposals in the Governor’s budget. “Despite President Obama’s fervent calls for greater fairness in our tax system in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday,” said Page, “Governor Patrick failed to provide leadership on this issue in Massachusetts. He has proposed a series of regressive taxes – those that hit the working classes the hardest. For the sixth year in a row, the Governor proposes not a dime of increased taxes on wealthy corporations and individuals in this state so that they pay their fair share for our common public needs. PHENOM believes it is time, now, to pass the Act to Invest in Our Communities (www.ourcommunities.org), a progressive income tax proposal.”
UMass undergraduate student Nicole Mitchell expressed the frustration many students are feeling. “Six straight years of cuts to public higher education, including $128 million since FY2010 alone, have led to skyrocketing fees at UMass, adding to the burden of students. Governor Patrick once told us he believed in two years of free higher education. What happened to that kind of vision? Why do students and families have to keep paying more while 1%-ers like Mitt Romney pay lower tax rates than most of us?”
PHENOM and its allies will be launching a campaign to educate the public and the legislature about the Top Ten Reasons for Massachusetts to Invest in Public Higher Education (see attachment) and will work with students, faculty, staff, parents, and alumni from all three sectors of public higher education to come to an advocacy day at the State House on March 8 to make the case for greater investment in public higher education to the legislature.