Governor Deval Patrick unveiled yesterday some key components of his effort to overhaul education in Massachusetts, but without specifying how the initiative would be financed. Governor Patrick has a big agenda in this field, with many stated goals sure to draw intense political scrutiny. From the Globe:
Governor Deval Patrick unveiled the first wave of his sweeping education changes yesterday, including universal prekindergarten, full-day kindergarten for all students, and a drop-out prevention program. But how he will pay for those and other initiatives proposed in his Readiness Project will remain a mystery until November.
In a press conference that had promised to deal with the fundamental question of how to pay for the 50-plus initiatives outlined in his plan, the governor instead announced the formation of a special commission to identify short-term cost savings and potential new revenue sources for education.
“Everything is on the table,” Patrick said, responding to a question about whether his proposals could mean new taxes. “Our future is at stake.”
This initiative will also advocate a statewide teachers contract to replace the existing system of each district negotiating separate contracts, and you can be sure that the teacher unions will want more detail on that. The finance task force will also look at the existing state formula under education reform, making recommendations for change that could have widespread ramifications. Any process that tinkers with the existing formula will produce political winners and losers, and I anticipate a pitched political battle regardless of how the formula gets tweaked. The Governor is provoking debate in an area that sorely needs debate and new ideas, and that is a good thing. The lack of financing ideas at this point is a cause for concern. The Governor pointed out:
“We’re building a house,” he said. “You design it first and then cost it out. We will pay for it.”
The full plan will be released tommorow, and we will post it online when it arrives.