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Gov. Patrick, Students Press For Education Funding

BOSTON — Gov. Deval Patrick is urging students from the University of Massachusetts and community colleges to press lawmakers to back his education proposal.

Patrick addressed hundreds of students at a rally at the State House Monday, saying an affordable college education is good for students and the economy.

Patrick included an additional $550 million in education spending in his proposed budget for the new fiscal year.

The proposal would increase funding to the MASSGrant program, which provides financial assistance for lower-income students.

The extra spending would be funded by a hike in taxes, including an increase in the state’s income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 6.25 percent.

Patrick urged the students: “Engage with the members of the Legislature who are nervous and uncomfortable about a so-called tax vote, and remind them that taxes are the price of civilization.”

Lawmakers so far are showing little enthusiasm for the nearly $2 billion hike in taxes and fees Patrick’s proposed.

Massachusetts Republican Party Chairwoman Kirsten Hughes said Patrick is trying to persuade students to support tax increases that hurt them and their families by eliminating higher education-related deductions.

The Joint Ways and Means Committee wraps up a series of hearings around the state on Patrick’s tax plan this week, and its response is expected on April 10.

With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom

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