Our Opinion: Education a focus again for governor

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The final budget proposal of Governor Deval Patrick's eight years in office is not as ambitious as last year's, which found only partial favor in the Legislature, but emphasizes causes that have always been important to him, education in particular.

The governor proposes an additional $100 million in local education for grades K-12 and another $15 million to help close the persistent achievement gap between white and minority students. Any additional Chapter 70 funding is welcomed by cash -strapped local communities. The achievement gap plagues school districts everywhere, and beyond funding for teachers and educational tools, may require new approaches in and out of the classroom.

This is the first budget from Governor Patrick that includes funding from casinos, approved by law in 2011, and while it is only a relatively modest $20 million, that is still worrisome.

The proposed MGM casino for Western Massachusetts is farthest along but is a long way from generating revenue. The Boston casino process is already knotted in lawsuits and it is surprisingly quiet in southeastern Massachusetts beyond the proposal of a tribal casino the governor opposes. If the $ 20 million doesn't emerge, it will have to be found elsewhere or budgets will have to be cut.

On balance this is a sound budget plan that the governor unfortunately didn't get the opportunity to push in advance because his State of the State speech was snowed out. It is in keeping with the progressive agenda Governor Patrick has consistently advocated for two terms.


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