BOSTON — Senator Eric P. Lesser voted with the State Senate on Wednesday to pass a bill updating the state’s 25-year-old formula used to allocate funding for public education.
The bill, S. 2506, An Act modernizing the foundation budget for the 21st century, would implement the recommendations of the bipartisan Foundation Budget Review Commission (FBRC) which found that the foundation budget formula is drastically underestimating education costs. This has forced deep cuts to classrooms and critical programs, and one of the worst achievement gaps in the nation.
“Our Commonwealth’s schools, especially in low-income areas, are getting by with less and less. Our students need our full support in order to succeed. It’s time to fully fund our public education,” said Sen. Lesser.
“With the unanimous passage of the commission’s recommendations, the Senate is doing its part to make good on our obligation to every child in Massachusetts,” said Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Education, who sponsored the bill. “For years now, our schools have been suffering death by a thousand paper cuts, and it’s long past time we right this wrong. Schools and families shouldn’t have to lawyer up to get a quality education for their children.”
Established by the 1993 Education Reform Act, the Foundation Budget was designed to ensure every Massachusetts student was provided a quality education. However, the formula has failed to keep up with rising fixed costs like health care and special education that have outpaced initial estimates. It also underrated what it actually takes to educate English Language Learners and students living in poverty. The FBRC found these combined costs have led the Commonwealth to underestimate the cost of education by $1-2 billion every year.
The bill now goes to the State House of Representatives for consideration.