By Sen. Jamie Eldridge
Gov. Deval Patrick’s growth agenda goes to bold lengths to move our commonwealth forward and invest in the future of our communities. We can’t afford to watch from the sidelines as our roads, bridges and public- transportation systems decline, nor can we turn a blind eye to the rising cost of higher education that is deterring tomorrow’s bright minds from following their dreams.
The years of cuts to Chapter 70 education funding, special education, regional-school transportation and local aid have hurt the quality of education in our schools and divided residents in each community. The governor has proposed to change that with a revenue proposal that is fair and progressive by shifting the burden of taxes from working families to the wealthy, which will help ensure that more residents will be able to afford to pay their bills and better weather financial struggles.
Gov. Patrick’s growth agenda, supported by a group of more than 50 economists, would expand rail service from Pittsfield to Cape Cod, expand regional transit authority bus service, fully fund K-12 education, alleviate the MBTA of its crushing deficit, lengthen school days in high-need schools, make higher education more affordable and provide current college students with the skills to successfully transition into the workforce.
When weighing the governor’s revenue growth proposal, it’s critical to think about how these investments generated will impact every Massachusetts community, as well as each region of the state. By infusing each community with more local aid, public education will have the support necessary to thrive, while also stabilizing property taxes. This translates into more stable funding for schools, libraries and public safety, allowing communities to better serve residents and their families and engage in longer-term planning that will improve economic growth, recreational opportunities and quality of life.
But the health of a community doesn’t end at its borders. By significantly investing in our transportation system, residents across the commonwealth will be better connected, allowing them to expand their job choices, access other parts of the state more easily, reduce traffic congestion and combat climate change. Furthermore, coordinated investments in transportation and higher education will ensure that more young people will be able to attend college, significantly increasing their chances of earning a good living and strengthening the overall economy.
When it comes to transformations in transportation and education proposed by Gov. Patrick, I’m confident that elected officials, business leaders, community activists and residents can work together to dramatically improve the quality of life in Massachusetts. The vision laid out by the governor will help determine the prosperity of future generations and help stimulate the economy in every region of Massachusetts. The time is now to step up and forge ahead with investments in transportation, education and infrastructure — key areas that will directly influence the economic well-being of the entire commonwealth.