Official Publication of the Massachusetts Teachers Association
Foundation Budget panel to be revived
By Jean Conley
T he fiscal 2015 state budget signed by Governor Deval Patrick in July modestly increases funding for K- 12 and early
education over fiscal 2014 levels and continues the
state’s reinvestment in higher education. The $36.5
billion budget also revives the Foundation Budget
Review Commission, a key legislative priority of
MTA President Barbara Madeloni said the
association is gratified that investment in education
increased and that the Legislature saw fit to
re-establish the commission, which will examine
and, if necessary, recalculate and update the
Foundation Budget formula.
“Including the commission in the budget
represents a huge step forward for students,
educators and our communities,” Madeloni said.
“As a matter of fundamental fairness across the
Commonwealth, our elected officials need to
regularly review the Foundation Budget — and then
take appropriate action to correct inequities — so
that we can provide a high-quality education for all
The panel was first established under education
reform legislation in 1993, and while the commission
has produced two reports over the past 20 years,
there has not been a systematic analysis of whether
schools have sufficient resources to enable students
to meet state standards.
M eanwhile, for a third year, the state budget continues to restore some of the higher education funding that had been cut
sharply during the 2000s.
Overall, higher education funding will rise $74
million over the fiscal 2014 General Appropriations
UMass will see an increase of 7. 8 percent,
allowing the university’s campuses to freeze tuition
and student fees for a second year.
Adjusting for inflation, however, higher
education funding is still more than 25 percent below
the fiscal 2001 level.
State universities will see an average increase
of 5. 8 percent over their 2014 GAA allocations, and
community college campuses will receive an average
increase of 8 percent over last year, including
reserves for collective bargaining.
“We are very happy to see the funding increases
for higher education, but there is still a lot of work
to be done to return to previous funding levels and
guarantee that we do not create a two-tiered funding
system for our state colleges and universities,”
Madeloni said. “Every student at every level
deserves our full support.”
Chapter 70 education aid will rise by 2. 3
percent in the new budget, or close to $100 million,
providing at least a $25-per-pupil boost over 2014 to
each district. Adjusted for inflation and enrollment
changes, however, Chapter 70 aid is almost $400
million, or 8 percent, below its high point in 2002.
Including school building assistance financed from a
state trust fund, total funding for grades K- 12 will be
3. 2 percent higher than in fiscal 2014.
The budget provides $550 million for early
education and care programs. The amount represents
an increase of 7. 4 percent over 2014. Yet that figure
is well below what was apportioned for fiscal 2001,
when early education and care received an inflation-adjusted $812 million.
T he budget is likely to fully fund the Special Education Circuit Breaker and allocates $70.3 million, or 90 percent, of the cost
for regional school transportation. At present,
charter school reimbursement to sending districts
is underfunded by $35 million, or 31 percent, but
in recent years the Legislature has later voted to
fully fund charter school reimbursement via a
The budget bill was enacted on June 30, just in
time for the new fiscal year on July 1. The governor
then vetoed certain items amounting to less than
1 percent of the budget and sent it back to the
Legislature, which overrode all but one of the vetoes.
Chapter 70 education
aid will rise by 2. 3
percent in the new
budget, or close to $100
million, providing at
least a $25-per-pupil
boost over 2014 to each
district. Adjusted for
inflation and enrollment
Chapter 70 aid is almost
$400 million, or 8
percent, below its high
point in 2002.