Michael J. Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, estimated Patrick's plan for the community colleges alone would cost roughly $50 million to $75 million a year.
Not only does it sound worth it, but it sounds rather reasonable as well. One of the biggest goals our founding fathers had was to create equal opportunity for all. That doesn't exist today - and Massachusetts isn't much better than the rest of the country. Free community college could be a stepping stone that truly does equate to equal opportunity: it really could open up some doors.
Equal opportunity is far different than handouts or public welfare. It's giving people the boots they need to wear to rise up. If people have almost no opportunity, how can they be expected to get out of poverty or improve their lives? Furthermore, it could be very likely that, over time, investing in this kind of public education would create additional revenue for the state. The people who take advantage of free community college are going to be able to turn that into better paying jobs, which means they'll pay tens of thousands more in taxes over the course of their lifetime.
Kudos to Deval Patrick for creating another great idea. Now, what can we do - as citizens of this state - to make it happen?
I do like one of Widmer's other lines in the Globe,
"We can't do it either without making some tough choices or raising a broad-based tax or if we get major economic growth," said Widmer, adding that support for raising taxes appears weak.
And I'm sure that's coming from a purely non-prejudiced, could-never-have-any-bias sort of opinion, right? In my experience, people don't mind paying fees as long as a) they know what it's going to and b) they feel as if it's worth while. For example, people aren't likely to say yes to a Prop 2 1/2 override if they don't understand why it's necessary, but if they do know what it's going for and they think it's needed - they're a whole lot more likely to pass it. The Governor, with his bully pulpit, is the person most poised to make an argument of why certain things need additional funding. He's doing that right now with the Municipal Partnership Act, something that enjoys broad support in cities and towns - it's just a few pesky leaders in the House and Senate that aren't thrilled (and I'm sure that has nothing to do with their corporate