CONNECT Part 1
CONNECT Part 2
CONNECT: Part 1
(page 2 of 4)
And we will do all this with little state funding other than the state funding of public higher education. We have brought in private donor money to get the initiative started, and we are using those monies to leverage a National Science Foundation grant, and other funding sources ranging from our local Economic Development Council to federal agencies such as the Department of Energy.
We have the opportunity for Massachusetts to lead the nation in development of clean energy technology businesses.
We have similar opportunities in such areas as marine technology, information technology, and expanding biotechnology from other areas of Massachusetts to this region, and in each of these, a vital foundation for development is the participation of not only individual public colleges but also partnerships like CONNECT that bring the resources and expertise of multiple institutions to bear on the economy of a region.
These kinds of scenarios are repeated in countless collaboratives among our institutions and area businesses and employers, including the delivery of entrepreneurship training and small business development – in a regional economy so dominated by small business -- and addressing critical workforce shortages in such areas as nursing and teaching.
So our funding appeal today really addresses the 2005 budget for higher education and three adjunct areas: the workforce training funds for community colleges, the workforce investment fund, and the dual enrollment program.
Adequate funding for public higher education must be addressed. Those of you who serve in the Senate or are members of the Cape & Islands delegation have heard, I am sure, what I call the “Senator Rob O’Leary analysis.” Ranking 49th among the states in per capita spending on public higher education and about the middle of the 50 states in per student spending on public higher education, the Commonwealth has traditionally funded public higher education at proportionally lower rates than other states. These figures also show us that the Commonwealth sends proportionally fewer of its residents to public colleges and universities. But the Commonwealth can no longer afford to rely, as we have in the past, on private-sector institutions to educate substantial portions of our populace.
Private institutions that in the past took it as their mission to educate the children of working-class and middle-class families (Northeastern, Boston University, and Boston College, for instance) now price themselves to the elite market with tuition costs that blue-collar and middle-class families cannot afford. Moreover, the students of those institutions bring an economic benefit to the state while they study here (as Secretary Berke has testified), but they leave the state when they finish their education, while the vast majority of the graduates of our public institutions remain here in the state, work here, raise families here, and pay taxes here. They are our workforce, and the Commonwealth can no longer afford to make short shrift of their higher education.
The Governor’s budget was a welcome sign, with an increase of 6.7 percent in the state appropriation for Cape Cod Community College and similar increases for the other public institutions. However, that is in the face of a loss of more than 20 percent over the past two years, increasing enrollments, and steeper demand from area employers for training. Moreover, most of that 6.7 percent increase will go to pay for the increases negotiated for contracts that were signed more than two years ago but not funded until now.
We know you are facing another difficult budget year, but the future of the Commonwealth and in particular the health of its economy makes it absolutely critical to rebuild funding for public higher education.
CONNECT Part 1
CONNECT Part 2