Official Publication of the Massachusetts Teachers Association
Volume 43, No. 3
Coalition calls for revenue to fund key services
By Laura Barrett
T he MTA has been working with the Campaign for Our Communities for several years in advocating for more revenue — but this year
state lawmakers are taking the call more seriously
because Governor Deval Patrick has joined the fray by
proposing significant tax increases to fund education,
transportation and infrastructure needs.
The Campaign for Our Communities is a
statewide coalition of more than 120 organizations
that support broad-based tax increases to ensure that
Massachusetts continues to be a great place to live,
work and raise a family.
The campaign’s revenue bill, “An Act to Invest
in Our Communities,” is co-sponsored by Senator
Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Boston) and Representative
James O’Day (D-West Boylston).
Like the governor’s proposal, the coalition’s
plan would increase income tax rates but also
raise personal exemptions to reduce the impact
on low- and middle-income families. Most of the
approximately $2 billion a year in revenue raised
would come from the wealthiest taxpayers.
The bill was unveiled at a State House news
conference on Jan. 15. The MTA is engaging in
grassroots organizing, legislative lobbying and public
education to support the campaign.
The governor’s bill differs from the campaign’s
measure in some particulars, but they both call for
progressive tax reforms — with most new revenue
coming from the income tax — to fund services
that benefit everyone. In education, the governor is
proposing substantial increases in spending on early
childhood education, K- 12 schools and public higher
“We are very much on the same page as the
governor,” said MTA President Paul Toner. “Our job
now is to activate members to inform one another
and the public about how we all would benefit from
new investments in education and our communities.
“As MTA members know too well, the state and
municipalities have already squeezed substantial
savings out of their budgets,” Toner continued.
“Members have made sacrifices during this
recession. Without new revenues, the next round of
cuts will threaten the state’s future economic health.”
Mary Whelan-True, a social studies teacher at
Doherty Memorial High School in Worcester, said
more revenue is critical for many reasons, including
the need to improve learning conditions for students.
“Some of our newer buildings are well
equipped, but some of our older schools are
overcrowded and don’t have the wiring they need to
support modern technology,” she said. “The Internet
just shuts down. Teachers have to be cautious about
making plans to incorporate technology into a lesson.
“A lot of teachers are spending their own money
on routers and other equipment to support their
teaching,” Whelan-True added.
Sapphire Castillo, a Bristol Community College
student from New Bedford, is focused on making
public higher education accessible.
“Lack of state revenue is constantly driving up
the cost of attending a community college, making it
more and more unaffordable,” Castillo said. “There
is a real need for economic growth in Southeastern
Massachusetts, and an educated work force lays the
foundation for economic success.”
Toner noted, “When districts tell you they can’t
pay to have a school wired for today’s Internet needs
or when college students can’t afford the cost of
public higher education, you know we are hurting
the core of what makes Massachusetts great. We
have the highest-performing students in the country,
but we know we could do so much more if we had
For more information, visit www.massteacher.org
Jackie Lawrence, president of the Somerville Teachers Association, spoke at the State House press
conference about how communities and the economy benefit when students are well educated.
Photo by Laura Barrett
See Page 12 for coverage of the
governor’s budget proposal and
MTA’s legislative priorities.