By The Gatepost Editorial Board
Massachusetts voters will have the opportunity to provide significant financial assistance to public education and transportation when they vote on Question 1 on this year’s ballot Nov. 8.
If passed, Question 1, known as the “Fair Share Act,” would adopt an amendment to the Massachusetts constitution that would impose an additional tax on residents with an income above $1 million.
This would be an additional 4% tax on top of the flat 6% already required of all Massachusetts residents.
The revenue from this tax, an estimated $2 billion, would be dedicated to improving public transportation and education, including higher education. Framingham State is experiencing an enrollment crisis, and this decline in funds from student fees has been detrimental to the University’s budget.
According to Dale Hamel, executive vice president, this decline in enrollment has allowed the University to provide additional financial aid to students who are currently enrolled.
Though this is good for students, during the Sept. 13 Board of Trustees meeting, Hamel highlighted the toll low enrollment has had on FSU’s finances in other areas.
The budget for Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23), which was approved in May, had a deficit of $4 million that was balanced out by “one-time funds” such as the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), according to Hamel.
Of the HEERF funds, $3 million was designated by the Board to FY23, which was the last of those funds, Hamel said.
The FY23 budget accounted for a 10.5% reduction in enrollment, but Hamel said he foresees that number being closer to 12%.
He added, “That has an impact of about $725,000 on college operations and $75,000 on other trust funds that have direct fees associated with enrollment.”
For the past two years, the Board of Trustees has frozen our tuition due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This has been a blessing for students who were financially burdened by the pandemic, but this, combined with the continued decline in enrollment, has affected the University’s budget significantly.
The funds from this tax could be essential in providing the money we need to continue functioning well as a university.
The Gatepost encourages all FSU students, faculty, and staff registered to vote in Massachusetts to go out on the 8th and cast their ballots in favor of Question 1.
According to the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, the state has underfunded higher education in recent years, which left schools vulnerable during the pandemic. The state provided temporary relief funds that kept institutions “afloat,” but more permanent assistance needs to be put in place.
The center argues these funds would allow higher education to become more affordable in Massachusetts, provide more support to faculty and staff, and allow for overall improvements in education.
Our University, along with other colleges in the state, is struggling financially and these deficits are going to be costing students more in the near future.
However, taking the time to educate yourself on this issue and going out to cast your vote could lead us in the right direction toward recovering financially.
This amendment is essential in order to sustain our University and ensure we and future students continue to receive a high-quality, low-cost education from FSU.
Help us get our “fair share.”