MassLive – The Massachusetts Legislature’s top budget writers have reached an agreement on school funding, proposing allocating more money than what Gov. Charlie Baker included in his fiscal 2022 budget plan.
The House and Senate Ways and Means committees propose a $219.6 million increase in Chapter 70 funds from fiscal 2021, bringing the total amount to $5.503 billion.
The state’s landmark education law that took effect in November 2019 requires that budget writers approve funding increases over seven years to prepare for full implementation in fiscal 2027. Under the new law, the state will provide $1.5 billion more annually for public education once it is fully implemented with more funds going to school districts with high concentrations of poor students and higher numbers of English language learners.
Massachusetts budget writers never funded the first year of the phase-in period, citing economic uncertainty due to COVID-19. Instead, the Baker administration and Legislature agreed to keep funding level, allowing for only inflationary increases.
Before the pandemic hit, Baker had proposed a budget that would have increased Chapter 70 aid by more than $303 million. A year later, he said he would fully fund the first year of the landmark education law. He proposed a $197.7 million increase of Chapter 70 funds. Education experts attributed the lower figures to the 37,000-student drop in enrollment for the 2020-21 school year.
House Chairman Aaron Michlewitz and Senate Chairman Michael J. Rodrigues said in a statement the money accounts for one-sixth of the funding phase-in needed before the state’s education reform law fully takes effect in fiscal 2027.