Though education spared Massachusetts the fate of other former industrial states, like Michigan, we have an odd way of showing that our future depends on human capital. In 2001, the Commonwealth spent $8.3 billion (in current dollars) on education and a larger but still comparable amount, $10.8 billion, on health care. But in Governor Patrick’s 2013 budget, the gap is far wider: The $15.2 billion for health care is more than double the $6.9 billion he proposes for education.
This comparison hints at the stakes as the House and Senate discuss bills to restrain health spending. Unless lawmakers succeed, rising medical spending threatens to crowd out everything else, including the schooling that will determine Massachusetts’ economic future.