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MA Educators Rally for Passage of the Cherish Act

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Friday, April 28, 2023   

Hundreds of advocates for higher education will gather in Springfield today, where they will lobby in support of what they call a transformative reinvestment in public colleges and universities.

Students, staff and faculty are urging lawmakers to pass the Cherish Act, which would create a system of debt-free higher education for every resident of the Commonwealth and ensure better pay for faculty and staff.

Max Page, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, said the bill would also improve outdated and underfunded campus infrastructure.

"It's truly a comprehensive blueprint for how to reinvest in higher education," Page asserted.

Page argued lawmakers have a mandate from the public to pass the Cherish Act following voter approval of the new millionaire's tax, which is expected to create up to $2 billion in annual revenue for public education and transportation.

Decades of declining state financial aid have left Massachusetts public college students deep in debt. While tuition and fees have increased nearly 60% in the past two decades, state-funded financial aid has fallen nearly 50%, hitting underprivileged and first generation students the hardest.

Page emphasized the Cherish Act would help address the Commonwealth's historic racial and economic wealth gap.

"That's impossible without access to high quality, debt-free, public, higher education, full stop," Page contended.

Page added there is an increasing recognition by both political parties a high school degree is simply not enough to work and survive in the Commonwealth's knowledge based economy, including Sen. Karen Spilka, D-Ashland, president of the Senate, who opened this year's legislative session with a call to reinvest in higher education.

Disclosure: The Massachusetts Teachers Association contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Children's Issues, Civic Engagement, and Education. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

References:  
Senate Bill 246 2023

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House Bill passed with an overwhelming vote of 94-6, with three abstentions. Its companion, Senate Bill 159, passed unanimously with a vote of 34-0. (Chad Robertson/Adobe Stock)

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