PHENOM Calls for Support for Public Higher Ed from FMAP/Education Jobs Bill

In a recent letter, “PHENOM thanked the Governor for publicly stating his intent to reverse $75 million of this year’s budget cuts to public higher education by reallocating some of the remaining American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) monies” said Stasha Lampert, President of PHENOM and a student at UMass-Boston. This reallocation is made possible by the new federal funds in the Education Jobs bill and is welcome news for our campuses, but still leaves the system $70 million short of the Governor’s original proposal to level-fund the system after years of devastating cuts.

“Unfortunately, the legislature chose to cut public higher education by 15% over last year, continuing one of the worst five year stretches ever,” said Ken Haar, PHENOM’s treasurer and professor at Westfield State University. “Our Commonwealth cut public higher education funding more over that period than any other state, according to a report of Center for the Study of Education Policy. This has continued the decades of disinvestment that have threatened the promise of an affordable, accessible, and high-quality public higher education system.”

The FMAP funds provide the state with an opportunity to further ameliorate some of the cuts. PHENOM is calling on the Governor and the legislature to direct an additional $17 million of the FMAP funds to public campuses. In the final FY11 budget, the Governor vetoed $25.7 million for public higher education because he couldn’t depend on the FMAP funds . FMAP has since passed, but the amount is less than originally anticipated. Public higher education’s proportional share of the actual FMAP monies that Massachusetts will receive is $17 million.

“PHENOM was proud to play a part in fighting for passage of the FMAP/Education Jobs Fund bill in Congress,” said Alex Kulenovic, PHENOM’s Organizing Director. “Now we need to be sure that a fair share of these unexpected funds goes to protecting this vital public good — our public colleges and universities.”