|To the editor of The Enterprise:
The $5 million windfall that the legislature has approved for the racing industry comes at a very interesting time. The merits of this "investment" in a private industry sector are dubious at best. Meanwhile, legislators are claiming poverty when it comes to funding public investments that are central to the mission of the commonwealth.
Specifically, the legislature has yet to approve funding for the modest pay raises agreed to in collective bargaining between the Board of Higher Education and the Massachusetts State Colleges Association, which represents the hard-working faculty of the state college system.
Faculty who are the lowest-paid in the Northeast and who had worked without a contract for three years were relieved in May of 2001, when Acting Governor Swift signed an agreement that would bring faculty members a bit closer to parity with their peers in other states. Many professors with earned doctorates, years of teaching and research experience, significant student loans, and heavy teaching loads earn salaries below $40,000 per year.
In addition to delaying the implementation of an agreement bargained
in good faith, the legislature is threatening to cut the operating budgets
of the state colleges. I encourage the working families of the Commonwealth
who rely on the state colleges for quality, affordable higher education
to ask their legislators about the relative value of race tracks and state
colleges. The faculty will continue to deliver the very best education
possible under the circumstances, but the legislature should take some
responsibility for those circumstances.
JAMES HAYES-BOHANAN, PH.D.