Thursday, December 17, 2015

MassBudget discussion on the Foundation Budget Review Commission

Opening with this quote from Horace Mann:
Having no other mines to work, Massachusetts has mined into the human intellect; and, from its limitless resources, she has won more sustaining and enduring prosperity and happiness than if she had been founded on a stratification of silver and gold, reaching deeper down than geology has yet penetrated...From her earliest colonial history the policy of Massachusetts has been to develop the minds of all her people, and to imbue them with the principles of duty. To do this work most effectually, she has begun it with the young. If she would continue to mount higher and higher toward the summit of prosperity, she must continue the means by which her present elevation has been gained. In doing this, she will not only exercise the noblest prerogative of government, but will cooperate with the Almighty in one of his sublimest works.
Connection between level of taxation and economic strength: there is no correlation!
Interesting to look at education: better educated workforce is correlated with stronger economy. Virtually no outliers (Alaska and West Virginia are the two; if you have coal or oil, you're an exception)
"The way to have a stronger economy IS to have a better educated workforce"
35 years ago, the picture was different (look at Michigan auto plants, for example)
early education, access to health care, other supporting systems working
"important to strengthen our economy in twenty to thirty years"
"it's not going to take one thing, it's going to take these things working together"
covering early education, wraparound services, and extended learning time
early ed: students are going to be better set-up for success; for parents, have a standard place for kids to go, where they'll be safe and well-cared for
kids will have higher rates of employment
programs need to have small class sizes, developmentally appropriate curriculum, appropriate facilities
about a third of low income kids in MA lack publicly supported pre-K
(and more kids who don't have public support above that threshhold)
quality pre-K cost exceeds EEC subsidies and foundation budget
"getting to the quality that we need" means getting from (to use NJ) from $5K to $1 3K
in some schools, 50-60-70% (or higher) kids coming from low income background
set of programs doing something about it, integrated with schools, sometimes co-located with schools
health service clinics, mental health services, prevention, wellness, family resource centers
"not effective to ask the same people to do more work"
"not just in moving social indicators but also the academics"
$1300 in cost per student (total statewide cost of $468M)
increased learning time
highest income families are spending $9800 per year per kid on enrichment out of school
"this is where policy can come in and level the playing field"
"you have to not just do more of the same"
"great opportunity for, not just for kids to get extra support, for teachers to work together"
improved academics combined with engaging enrichment
also working with wraparound services
citing $1600 for ELT, summer, after-school ($575M)
higher ed: for tuition free community colleges and state universities
net cost of $325M

what are the most important things we could do?
I'll give names if I know them; apologies otherwise
someone from early childhood: if the focus on what happens at zero-three a little more strongly, but in a way that also engages parents as partners
build skills that make them more successful at this level
kids learn early, pretty significant savings down the road
member of the Hingham School Committee: education funded by the local towns (Hingham is a minimum aid community); schools don't necessarily get that money
important for towns to understand that
Norma Shapiro: local level important to understand that much of the research that has been done has been done in urban areas
"the place that it really makes a difference is in the urban communities"
"majority of the students that living in Massachusetts live in those urban communities"
successful economy, success of children in urban communities are tied together
particularly important for state to support urban schools
former Rep. Alice Wolfe: how can you actually disseminate the information adequately to the towns and throughout the state
"before we have a ballot question...we have to have the messenging done really well"
so the decisions are really made wisely
otherwise opportunity will be wasted
UMass: someone who would say you should do this tomorrow
fear you may have oversold the advantages of education
median wages (and economic inequality)
if you correct graph for cost of living, suspect graph might not be so steep in gains
connection seems important in figuring that out
"education often presented as a's not"
"a lot of other things outside of education are important as well"
MassBudget: inequitities are because our top earners do better, not that our low income people do worse
prof at Northeastern Law (MassBudget board): resisted urge to add up numbers and add another $1B to take care of the low-hanging fruit first
which produces the greatest benefit per buck?
MassBudget: not a scientific answer

One option for generating revenue for generating this thing
state collecting a smaller share of economic outlook today than in the early 90's
largely due to changes in the personal income tax
"cost around $3B a year in lost revenue"
income tax rate, dividends & interest, personal exemptions
weak wage growth, and a lot of the growth that has happened has gone to top 1%
"not the way the economy has to function, not the way the economy has always functioned"
how does that effect revenue?
"sometimes termed an 'upside down structure'"
the bottom 99% pays a higher share of taxes: 9.4%
top 1% 6.5%
most of that is the sales tax
$2B lost from top level is gap discussed
proposed constitutional amendment to additional 4% rate to any income over $1M
raise about $1.7B in new annaul income dedicated to education and transportation
makes system more fair (though there would be a 1.4% gap remaining)
rate only applies to any dollar over $1M
federal government will reimburse about 1/3 of that (as funds paid to state are deduced from federal income)
most states tax higher rates of income at higher levels
Massachusetts would be in line with NY, VT, DC, NJ if it passed

Chelsea superintendent: gap is huge, need is huge
"our needs are great and the money is not there"
"where does this intersect with the foundation budget review seems like the the report was the tree falling the forest: it's big and nobody heard it"
now getting review of FBRC said, which I'm skipping notes on

and yes, then I kicked the question of "what about this year?" up, with a suggestion that a negative inflation year, if budgeted as a regular inflation year, gave the state potential room to make progress on something (I suggested inflation); they also should at least discuss how to make low income work
Noah Berger from MassBudget agreed that the inflation suggestion was a possibility

something of a piecemeal review of history of the foundation budget
FairShare amendment is three years away: "I don't think we can wait...I think we need to be thinking of strategies to move this forward" sooner
Hingham rep: "the answer was 'we don't have any money'"
"if we can get the leadership together to agree to get together and agree to start chipping away at start building on it and tackling it"

Tom Scott, MASS Executive Director:
special ed and health insurance are funds that we are required to fund
have to pull money away from other programs: "limited number of places for school committees to go"
"expression coming of 'how long can this path continue?'"
"we talk about Chelsea and our large urban districts...we have a lot of suburban communities that have an urban experience"
social-emotional development number one need for communities
Chelsea "where is the moral imperative?"
MassBudget: don't look at us, we're a research organization

MassBudget interesting first step on foundation budget on inflation factor, as it is a negative factor this year:
"that could create an opportunity...does open up some space...there is that extra room"

Barbara Madeloni: change the conversation
begin to talk about the kind of schools our kids need
social-emotional needs of our kids
begin to make income inequality a critical issue in public education
"need to be deeply democratic conversations at the school committee level"
experience of people in their daily lives, and how does that impact the experience of young people in the classroom
giving us some aspirational goals for this
"There's a lot of powerful people at this table, and we have the power to do this."

Shea (from Senator Chang-Diaz's office): how are we going to pay for it? but not in FY17 in the FairShare amendment
concerned about losing momentuum
Senate increased earned income tax credit; took away a tax credit that no one had ever heard of
"there are other ways to do this in the short term"
"needs to start thinking of incremental ways that we can move the dial"

Boston Children's Hospital
changing tide of divestment in our kids to help them really be successful

one place that we as a community may want to be looking for resources
$1B in state tax benefit for business investment: research that shows that they're at best marginally successful
early childhood much more successful

Dave Verdolino, MASBO: if we're trying to convince taxpayers in this state that more resources...early childhood, you leverage that investment for the next twelve years
that's the impetius for having people get behind why we need to spend more money
"that's a universal thing"

Norma Shapiro: how do we convince people on this? fewer and fewer households without children
many more people who have no connection to the school system
MassBudget: people have the sense that why Massachusetts is a good place to live is the education system
making that point that investment now in education is going to shape the economy

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