Sean Garballey Questionnaire

1. Arlington's growing school enrollment has strained the town budget. At the same time, the 2015 Foundation Budget Review Commission found the state was underfunding its constitutional obligations to public education by more than $1 billion per year. Affluent communities like Arlington resorted to higher property taxes and proposition 2 ½ overrides, while lower-income communities have simply gone without. How do we reverse this trend?

One of my priorities in running for the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 2008 was to have the legislature pass a more equitable local aid formula to cities and towns across the Commonwealth. As a member of the Arlington School Committee from 2005 to 2008 it was my opinion that Arlington was treated unfairly by the Chapter 70 distribution formula. During my time in the House of Representatives I have focused on increasing funding for Chapter 70, Unrestricted General Government Aid, Special Education Circuit Breaker, and funding for McKinney-Vento. Arlington has received an increase in funding over the last decade but due to an inequitable local aid formula we haven’t received what I believe is an appropriate amount of aid for our public-school system. Several years ago, I helped form a coalition of State Representatives and State Senators who represented communities who were negatively impacted by the current distribution formula and worked to make changes. This coalition created the Foundation Budget Review Commission legislation and I was pleased to play an active role in getting it passed in the legislature. The next State Senator must prioritize the full implementation of the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission. As your next State Senator, I will be active, as I have been in the House of Representatives, in working to make sure the recommendations of the commission are fully implemented.


2. Where do you stand on the "Fair Share Amendment," which would allow Massachusetts to tax the portion of a resident's income that is above $1 million at a rate 4% higher than income below $1 million, with the new revenues earmarked for education and transportation infrastructure?

I strongly support the "Fair Share Amendment" and as your State Representative I voted in favor of the amendment during the Constitutional Convention last session. The amendment must be voted on again during a Constitutional Convention this session and if passed by the legislature it will appear on the ballot in 2018. I have worked over the last legislative session building coalitions to convince my colleagues in the House of Representatives and in the State Senate to support the "Fair Share Amendment" and I look forward to it being passed again this session during a Constitutional Convention and placed on the ballot in 2018 for the people of Massachusetts to consider.


3. Compared to other states, Massachusetts ranks high in overall achievement but low in equity, with a substantial achievement gap between low-income and high-income students. How do we close that gap?

It is essential for the Commonwealth to close the achievement gap. Implementing the recommendations proposed by the Foundation Budget Review Commission and passing the "Fair Share Amendment" will help provide adequate funding for public education throughout the Commonwealth. The only way to adequately close the achievement gap is by addressing issues around poverty in Massachusetts. The Commonwealth must make serious improvements in early education. Comprehensive studies have demonstrated that children in high quality early education programs have a greater chance of graduating from high school and gaining employment. Access to early education opportunities can be very difficult for families because full-day care costs on average $17,000 annually. We must address affordability and the wait list when it comes to being accepted into a program. The annual turnover rate among teachers in early education is around 30% because the average salary of a preschool teacher is $25,000 a year. The legislature must pass legislation that improves the salary of preschool teachers and addresses affordability. I also believe strongly that the legislature needs to pass my legislation that would create a universal College Savings Account program for every child born in Massachusetts. My proposal would create a College Savings Account for every child born in the Commonwealth and the state would allocate seed funding in each account. This is critically important because studies demonstrate that students with a College Savings Account are 40% more likely to attend college than those without. Other ways to successfully close the achievement gap is to provide access to better health care, including dental and eye care. The Commonwealth must also invest more funding in adult education and job training. Investing more in the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program is also an important component to closing the achievement gap because families can only succeed if they have access to stabilized housing.


4. Our current school "accountability" system, heavily focused on standardized test scores and with severe punishments for schools that have low scores, was created to meet the requirements of obtaining federal funds. Now that Congress has significantly loosened those requirements, what changes would you make, if any?

During my time in the House of Representatives I have supported legislation that would remove the MCAS graduation requirement and transition to a system that evaluates students in many ways and not just through high stakes testing. The legislature should pass an act Relative to a Moratorium on High-Stakes Testing and PARCC. This legislation would allow us to reexamine the current standardized assessment system in Massachusetts. The legislation places a three-year moratorium on high-stakes testing and creates a task force of stakeholders to examine high-stakes testing.


5. Is there anything else you’d like us to know about your views on education issues, your accomplishments in this area, or your legislative priorities? Please also feel free to provide links to campaign websites and social media.

As your State Representative for the past nine years I have led on improving education in the Commonwealth. I have also led the effort to successfully provide more local aid, in Chapter 70 and UGGA, to the Town of Arlington. I have also been part of coalitions within the legislature in working to pass the Foundation Budget Review Commission and the "Fair Share Amendment." In my role as your State Representative I have successfully worked with the Massachusetts School Building Authority in working to rebuild Arlington High School. I am proud of my work in this area and I look forward to continuing to work with you and the state in making sure that the Massachusetts School Building Authority provides the highest reimbursement rate as possible in rebuilding Arlington High School. If you have any questions about my candidacy please call me directly on my cell phone (781) 859-7781 or visit my website at http://www.Garballey.com. I look forward to continuing to represent you in the State Senate and I would be honored by your vote on June 27th.