Testimony in Support of S.16 Fair Share Amendment for 4/11 Hearing

Dear Senator Hinds, Representative Cusack, and members of the Committee:

On behalf of Citizens for Public Schools, I am respectfully submitting testimony in support of S.16, having also recently testified in support of the Promise Act at the March 22 Joint Education hearing on school funding.  Additional revenue is urgently needed to properly fund public education in Massachusetts.

For more than 35 years, Citizens for Public Schools (CPS) has worked to promote, preserve and protect equitable and adequate public school funding. We believe that all children, regardless of race, color, creed, nationality, gender, disability, class or economic status should have equal educational opportunity so they can participate successfully in the civic and economic life of the Commonwealth.  

CPS supports the passage of the PROMISE Act to fulfill and fund the constitutional obligation to cherish our schools. As the FBRC found, we are not keeping this promise.  The FBRC estimated we are currently underfunding our schools by more than $1.5 billion because our out-of-date Chapter 70 funding formula hasn’t addressed rising costs.  As a result, the inequities that inspired the 1993 Education Reform Act have returned, leaving too many of our students without the adequate foundation budget supports they need.  Low-income districts, including cities and rural areas, are hurting the most, but even many suburban schools are struggling to keep up with costs and the consequences of state disinvestment.  Every year we delay is a year of lost opportunity for thousands of Massachusetts’ children. 

This money is necessary for high-quality early education for those without access; it is needed to reduce class sizes (particularly through third grade in our low-income districts); it is needed for after school programs; it is needed for wrap around services (for those without access to appropriate supports for their health); it is needed for English language learners and aides and teachers for special needs students.  If these are not present in our low-income districts, lower income students will never have the education that wealthier students do. These things cannot be provided without additional money.  

We support S.16 because providing adequate revenue to support public education is part of this promise.  It is unfortunate that last year a corporate-backed lawsuit prevented the Fair Share ballot question from moving forward.   However, weare grateful to Senator Lewis and Representative O’Day and all the co-sponsors of S.16 for their leadership in filing the legislative Fair Share Amendment, and will work to support the House and Senate bringing it forward to the 2020 ballot.   We believe it is reasonable to require our wealthiest Massachusetts residents to pay 4 percent more per year on the income they earn in excess of $1 million, a proposal that was widely supported by Massachusetts voters in public polling.  

Children cannot vote, so they count on us to act in their best interests.  Please join us in believing in them, and in cherishing their educations, so that together, we will support their future thoughtful participation in our democracy.  Please support S.16 the Fair Share Amendment.


Lisa Guisbond, Executive Director
Citizens for Public Schools