FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 13, 2016
Contact: Natalie Higgins, firstname.lastname@example.org, 978-227-8473
Baker Administration Makes Dangerous Cuts to Public Higher Education in Budget Vetoes
Boston, MA — Members of the Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts (PHENOM) are disturbed by Gov. Baker’s decision to forcibly pass his preferred policies into law under the guise of a manufactured “budget emergency.” His decision to cut over $400 million in state funding puts the health of Bay Staters at risk and threatens students at our 29 public college campuses.
“This is another attack on public education by the Baker Administration. Our students and their families cannot afford to shoulder more debt. We are already losing $2.5 billion each year in forgone savings and equity from the student debt crisis, and current students are about to take on another 5-10% in fee increases” said Kimberly Selwitz, PHENOM President and Framingham State University alum.
Through his actions today, Gov. Baker chose to sacrifice the financial security of working families across Massachusetts for his own political gain. Even after he agreed on a compromise budget with House and Senate leadership, Gov. Baker decided to use this as an opportunity to impose even greater austerity on already-struggling families across the Commonwealth.
Gov. Baker’s unilateral cuts to public service worker healthcare (1108-5200) will force families to pay almost 25% more in health premium payments. This decision ignores union contracts and abuses the budget crisis to gain a victory that Gov. Baker failed to win in good-faith negotiations with workers. This also endangers proposals to ensure health coverage for part-time workers.
In another abuse of this budget crisis, Gov. Baker is trying to force through sick leave limits on workers that he was unable win during the legislative session or contract negotiations.
“We’re seeing full-time, benefitted faculty and staff disappear to be replaced with a part-time, contingent workforce, all the while more costs are being shifted onto the backs of our campus workers. Some of our community colleges already have 80% of their classes taught by adjunct faculty. This hurts not just faculty and staff, but first-generation college students, who need extra support, mentorship, guidance on their way to completion. We cannot afford more cuts to public higher education,” said Natalie Higgins, PHENOM Executive Director.
Beyond that, Gov. Baker’s proposal would cut the community college, state college, state university and University of Massachusetts budgets by over $3,000,000 dollars by cutting internship funding (7066-0000) and pathways for community college students to attend UMass and other state universities (7066-0019), among other programs.
PHENOM, its organizational partners and tens of thousands of committed people across the Commonwealth are organizing to oppose these unilateral vetoes by Gov. Baker. We believe that State Representatives and State Senators will listen to their constituents and vote to override Gov. Baker’s devastating cuts to public higher education and to workers’ earned benefits.
PHENOM unites students, faculty, staff, alumni, and others from community colleges, state universities, the UMass campuses, and the broader community to advocate for better funded, affordable and accessible public higher education in Massachusetts. The 500,000 people who make up the Massachusetts public higher education community are the sleeping giant of Massachusetts politics. By mobilizing a large and engaged grassroots network, PHENOM is waking up this sleeping giant so we can get the resources to create the public higher education system we and our children deserve.