BOSTON — Massachusetts lawmakers are closer to the landmark education bill that would add $1.5 billion to state K-12 education funding over the next seven years.
The compromise bill, which the Senate and the House announced on Nov. 19, would particularly benefit school districts with higher concentrations of low-income students and English learners, and those who struggle to raise significant money from their own taxpayers.
The funding will be given year by year, and the bill does not call for additional taxes or include appropriations.
Rep. Jim Hawkins, D-Attleboro, who previously withdrew an amendment that would have given local school districts control over the extra money they will receive from the bill, said he favored the compromise bill that did not offer that control. He believes the additional funding can benefit low-income families, adding his only concern is whether there’s a way to measure accountability.
“We want to know that low-income students benefit from this stunning spending,” he said, “and (the money) wasn’t used to buy granite countertops for the desk in the superintendent’s office or send them on a cruise.”
The House and Senate both plan to vote on it Wednesday before the recess and send it to Gov. Charlie Baker. If it receives final approval it would mark the most significant accomplishment of the year for the Legislature.
“I’m sure it will pass,” said Rep. Elizabeth Poirier, R-North Attleboro, adding the town won’t receive as much benefit as other communities since the bill targets districts with very low-income populations.
“That’s a little disappointing. But overall, they’ve put a lot more funding toward education,” she said.
Sen. Paul Feeney, D-Foxboro, called it “landmark legislation” in an interview last month, saying the bill addresses the school funding formula for the first time in 25 years.
He said the bill was significant in the way it handles school funding across the commonwealth, and every city would benefit greatly from it. Feeney said that the bill brought up not only the school funding formula but also community needs, such as transportation cost.
“I’m proud of it,” Feeney said.
The education funding bill was a first he co-sponsored when coming to Senate in 2017.
Sen. Jason Lewis, D-Winchester, who co-chairs of the Legislature’s Education Committee, said in September that the state would have the strongest and most progressive education funding system in terms of how they reflect the needs of low-income students if the bill passed into law.
“We are one step closer to making an unprecedented $1.5 billion pre-inflation investment in new resources for public school students across the Commonwealth,” Speaker Robert A. DeLeo and Senate President Karen E. Spilka said in a joint statement. “This will make a real difference to our students for years to come.”