Brandon Chase – Managing Editor
Last month, a group of six Lasell students traveled to the State House in Boston to voice their opinions on Governor Deval Patrick’s proposal that would allow for his fiscal year 2014 budget to provide college students with an additional $112 million in financial aid.
Governor Patrick’s proposal is part of a budget that would see tax increases to raise $1.9 billion for education and transportation. The sales tax would be cut from 6.25 percent to 4.5, but the income tax would be raised from 5.25 to 6.25 percent.
“The number of students who have qualified for financial aid [in Massachusetts] has risen greatly,” said Rich Doherty, President of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts, with the highest four-year college graduation rate in the country, devotes only eight percent of its budget to financial aid. The national average is 12 percent. Doherty believes the governor’s plan will attract Massachusetts residents applying to college to stay in the Bay State.
“It will keep some of our most talented students in state to go to college,” Doherty said.
“We care that you have and make the most of these opportunities. And part of caring about this has got to be that we assure you can do this without going deeply into debt,” Governor Patrick said to the students in attendance.
The proposal will also bolster the state’s Mass. Grant program by quadrupling the amount of money reserved for that initiative. Governor Patrick made it clear that the Massachusetts higher education system is a key fixture
in the state’s economy.
“This is the greatest concentration of thinkers on the planet. Intellectual capital is as important to us as oil is to Texas or corn is to Iowa. If we don’t cultivate that, then our collective economic future is in jeopardy,” said Patrick.
Patrick continued to defend his plan for financial aid, saying “the old thinking that a vote for taxes is a political hazard is stale and self-defeating.”
If the new budget passes through the state legislature, it will go into effect on July 1.
“I fully support Patrick’s bill and I hope others follow in his footsteps and invest in our future as a state and a nation,” said senior Angelo Bertoni.