Gov. Patrick Announces Multi-billion Dollar Education Reform Proposal

(NECN: Alison King, Boston) - Kids in Massachusetts could begin their schooling soon after birth. That's if Governor Deval Patrick gets the legislature to approve a sweeping multi-billion dollar education plan.

It comes one day after the Governor announced he'll likely seek billions in transportation funding.

One day after unveiling a $1-billion dollar transportation reform plan, Governor Deval Patrick was at the Orchard Gardens School in Roxbury to announce an equally ambitious proposal: a $550 million dollar increase in education funding, $1 billion dollars over four years.

“I am proposing that we fully fund the early education programs in our state.”

In addition to universal birth through age five funding, the Governor wants to fully fund K-12 education and make college more affordable to low and middle income earners.

Where will the money come from? New revenues.

“Which means new taxes. New taxes and fees and we've got to stop being afraid of that conversation and start talking about the choices we have to make in order to assure that we are building a stronger future.”

“The question is going to become, what is affordable,” says speaker Bob DeLeo.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo says he expects the legislature will work to shave down some of the Governor's to make them more affordable.

“The first thing we have to talk about is various efficiencies - reforms that we would have to implement.”

“It's very concerning to me that the Governor just had to cut $540 million dollars out of the state budget because spending levels were unsustainable is proposing billions of dollars in new spending in a variety of different categories,” says Sen. Bruce Tarr.

Senate Republican leader Bruce Tarr says everyone wants better roads and schools... But that in these economic times, you can't have everything you want.

“Where is all of this leading? Are we heading back to the tax and spend days that got Massachusetts into so much trouble?”

“To those who say we cannot afford this, I challenge you to show me which one of these four year olds should be left behind,” says Gov. Patrick. “Some of those folks say the timing is never great. But you know, we've got to stop asking third and fourth graders and pre-schoolers to wait until some magic perfect time. “

So to fund this education plan, exactly what kind of new taxes and new fees is the Governor talking about and are they in addition to the $1-billion dollars in new revenue he needs to pay for his proposed transportation reforms?

The Governor says he's holding off on specifics until he gives his state of the state address Wednesday night.

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