In line with the Campaign for A Great State of Mind, we need to take bold steps toward affordability, access, retention and quality.
- Increasing campus operating budgets to minimize the need for fee increases, to hire more full-time faculty and staff, and to increase retention rates. Together with the other leading public higher education advocates, we are supporting the proposal from the Board of Higher Education which would add 5% to the funding provided last year from state and ARRA funds, after factoring in the cost of funding the approved union contracts.
- An Act Relative to Establishing a Finish Line Grant Opportunity to Encourage College Completion (Bill H.00350, lead sponsor Rep. Garballey) which would make the final year of public college or university free to students in need of financial aid. This addresses the affordability and debt crises, will incentivize retention, and, consistent with the Board of Higher Education’s Vision Project, increase graduation rates.
- Increasing revenue in a progressive manner in order to fund public higher education and other important public services. We are supporting An Act to Invest in Our Communities (Bill H.02553, lead sponsor Rep. O’Day and S.01416, lead sponsor Sen. Chang-Diaz) which would raise $1.2 billion by restoring the income tax rate to 5.95%, greatly increasing personal exemptions, and increasing the capital gains tax rate to 8.95% so that the additional revenue comes from upper income people.
In addition, PHENOM will fight for other legislative initiatives with our allies, including:
- An Act regarding higher education opportunities for high school graduates in the Commonwealth will provide in-state tuition for undocumented students who have attended at least 3 years of high school in Massachusetts and graduated from a Massachusetts high school. The Governor has called for it and we will continue to work to finally secure equity and justice. (H.02109, lead sponsors Reps. Wolf and Provost, S.00566, lead sponsor Sen. Chang-Diaz)
- Increasing funding in the budget for MassGrant. We have to reverse the two decade-long erosion of the value of our main need-based financial aid program. But we need to find ways to direct most of the financial aid budget to students attending public colleges. The Finish Line grant (above) is one way to do this.
- Supporting the Act to Maintain Faculty and College Excellence in the Commonwealth to increase the proportion of undergraduate courses taught by tenure system faculty. (H.01244, lead sponsor Rep. Sullivan)
- Providing funding for The Educational Rewards Grant Program which will encourage and aid low-income students seeking education leading to jobs in high-demand occupations. (H.00977, lead sponsor Rep. Forry and S.00042, lead sponsor Sen. Eldridge)
PHENOM spoke with hundreds of people in order to arrive at this bold and principled program designed to give Massachusetts residents the public higher education system they deserve and that stimulates the economy, provides jobs, and guarantees the long-term health of our Commonwealth. It was approved by PHENOM’s Delegate Assembly on November 29, 2010 and modified by the Executive Committee through ongoing work with our allies.