Tomorrow, Governor Deval Patrick will sign the $32.5 billion state budget for fiscal year 2013, making law a budget that reflects difficult economic times but also Massachusetts’ ability to keep ahead of many states economically. Significantly, the budget makes a priority of education, which is of critical importance to the state’s future economic success.
Speaking at an Eagle editorial board meeting Tuesday, the governor said that local aid and education are "the best kind of long-term investment," and the budget calls for an increase of about $300 million in education spending. Cutting education funding to "save" money in the short term doesn’t pay off because it hinders the success of students when they go out into the marketplace. This in turn hinders the community they live in and the state as well.
The state has been playing catch-up ball in funding community colleges, where it for too long ranked near the bottom of the 50 states in economic assistance. In return for additional funds, the governor is asking the colleges to focus "as a training platform to meet the needs of local businesses." Berk shire Community College was already serving as this platform and there has been concern that the administration’s focus would steer the colleges away from their other role of preparing students to move on academically.
The governor acknowledged Tuesday that the 15 community colleges weren’t en tirely prepared for the administration’s de cision to encourage them to work together on job preparation, but he explained that he wants them to align around a common strategy without sacrificing their individuality. "I’m not taking the community out of community college," said Mr. Patrick, and in terms of BCC, the community and the community college are and must continue to be tightly integrated.