EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

January 16, 2013

Patrick calls for surge in education spending

BOSTON — When he addresses the state tonight, Gov. Deval Patrick will outline an ambitious and likely controversial plan to raise as much as $1.57 billion in new revenue next year.

During a visit to a school in Roxbury yesterday, Patrick called for a $550 million investment in education in fiscal 2014 that would ramp up to $1 billion in new spending by 2017.

The plan calls for the state to deliver on its promise of universal access to early education by eliminating wait lists for infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers, and making Chapter 70 funding available for the first time to districts for pre-school for four-year-olds.

The governor also called for more expanded learning time, a $226 million increase in Chapter 70 education aid in his fiscal 2014 budget, and a $152 million increase in funding for community colleges, the University of Massachusetts, and college student grants.

“Investing in our children at a young age pays huge dividends for them and for our community as a whole. To those who say we cannot afford that, I challenge you to show me which one of these four-year-olds we should leave behind,” Patrick said, raising voice in the school auditorium as he delivered a message to the would-be detractors of his revenue push.

The governor’s plans for education, which span early childhood education to college, arrived a day after Patrick made his pitch for $1.02 billion in new revenue to pay for the maintenance and expansion of the state’s highways, bridges and public transit systems.

“The money’s going to come from new revenue. We’re going to put our proposal forward in the State of the Commonwealth and we’re going to make the case for investing in our growth and in our own future. It’s a proven strategy. It has gotten us a long way over the last couple years. We can go a lot further,” Patrick told reporters yesterday.

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