Archives for July 2015

LWVMA Supports In-State Tuition for Undocumented MA Students

The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts supports House bill 1061, the so-called “Education Equity” bill.  This bill would allow students who are not citizens and not legal permanent residents to pay in-state tuition and receive state-funded financial assistance at public institutions of higher education if they otherwise qualify. The bill addresses issues of immigration, education, income inequality, and equal opportunity.

As the U.S. Congress grapples with the larger issue of immigration, through this bill Massachusetts has an opportunity to enable undocumented immigrant youth to become more productive members of society, as many other states have done including California, New York, Connecticut, Florida, Texas.

At UMass Amherst, for Massachusetts residents, full time undergraduates pay $14,171 in annual tuition and fees, while out-of-state students pay $30,5041. At a community college such as MassBay, Massachusetts residents pay $184 per credit while non-residents pay $3902.

Right now, young people already in the US, educated K-12, and qualified to enter college are forced to pay out-of-state tuition at Massachusetts public colleges and universities. This bill gives them access to the tuition and financial aid available to their fellow graduates.

1https://www.umass.edu/bursar/sites/default/files/Fall%202015-Spring%202016%20ugrad%20full%20time%20fee%20sheet_0.pdf
2http://www.massbay.edu/tuition-fees/

Click here for LWVMA testimony.

Click here for the bill and sponsors.

Celebrating Freedom of Information

BOSTON—The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts celebrates the 49th anniversary of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) on July 4, but holds the fireworks until Massachusetts upgrades its own laws on access to public records.

Congress passed FOIA in 1966 to enhance the public’s right to know what its government is doing.  FOIA makes public records available to citizens, journalists and good government watchdog groups like the League of Women Voters.  FOIA holds government accountable and increases citizens’ trust in their government.

But FOIA is only as strong as citizens demand it to be.  Too often, government officials and agencies delay or refuse outright to respond to requests for information and charge excessive fees to provide that information.

The Massachusetts League of Women Voters and its partners in the MassFOIA Coalition, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Common Cause and the Massachusetts Newspapers Publishers Association, urge the state legislature to pass comprehensive public records access legislation based on H.2772/S.1676.

Massachusetts’ current public access records laws are extremely weak and lack adequate enforcement mechanisms.

“It is time to open up the citizens’ government to the citizens and make available the public records that rightly belong to the public,” noted Anne Borg, LWVMA co-president.  “Then we can truly celebrate the passage of this important law.”