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Governor Deval Patrick unveils ambitious new education plan

Governor Deval Patrick today unveiled an ambitious education plan that would pump more money into improving education for everyone from the smallest children to college students.

Asked how he would pay for the plan, which he estimated would eventually cost $1 billion a year, he raised the possibility that the state’s citizens would be asked to pay higher taxes. “We gotta stop being afraid of that conversation,” he said after a news conference unveiling the education proposal at a Boston school.

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It was the second day in a row that the governor had raised the possibility of increased taxes. On Monday he launched a public campaign to win support for $1.02 billion a year in new or higher taxes and fees to repair and reinvigorate the state transportation system.

The plan calls for providing universal access to high-quality early education for children from birth to age 5. It also calls for fully funding K-12 education, allowing extended school days in high-need schools, making college more accessible and affordable, and allowing community colleges to expand efforts to provide skills needed in the workplace.

“This is about creating opportunity and economic growth. After twenty years of good work and experience at reforming education, we know what works,” Patrick said in a statement. “If we are going to accelerate our growth and create opportunity, we must invest.”

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The plan would cost $550 million in the first year and its annual cost would increase to nearly $1 billion over the next four years, the governor’s office said.

The investments, the governor’s office said, would fuel the state’s continued efforts to “build a 21st century public education system in Massachusetts that prepares all students to compete and succeed in the global marketplace.”

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