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Massachusetts House Leaders Propose Bill That Would Boost Computer Science Funding

Massachusetts State House

June 6, 2014

House leaders in the state of Massachusetts recently unveiled a bill aimed at economic development and an emphasis on education and jobs training. According to WBUR, one of the main provisions on the bill focuses specifically on education funding for the growing field of computer science. When speaking of the new bill, Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo reportedly recounted how education has changed over the years. It used to be reading, writing, and arithmetic, he said. "Now it's computer science," DeLeo told WBUR.

According to MassLive, the bill calls for a $1.5 million dollar investment directly into MassCAN, an organization whose purpose is promoting and supporting computer science education in schools. Technology companies plan to match the investment with private funds. Steve Vinter, Boston site director for Google and co-founder of MassCAN, plans to use the funds to develop new computer science curriculums and create new teacher training programs in the field.

"We need to train people to manage information," Vinter told MassLive. "It's not just about Google, Microsoft, the tech sector. It's about the entire information economy."

The new bill, WBUR noted, also includes a provision for a $15 million dollar Middle Skills Job Training Grant Fund, whose purpose is to provide grants to vocational schools and community colleges that offer training for information technology and advanced manufacturing. In addition, a new fund will be established for exploring new opportunities in data analytics. Massachusetts business leaders and government officials hope that the new funds will strengthen the Massachusetts technology sector, The Boston Globe stated.

"I've very enthused that companies such as Google and Microsoft are growing in our area," DeLeo told MassLive. "I'm proud the vibrancy of Kendall Square and the innovation district shows Massachusetts is a major player that leads the nation and the world. The challenge is to broaden the success we've already seen."

Including additional funds set aside for housing and startups, the total cost of the bill is expected to reach $80 million.

According to The Boston Globe, DeLeo's plan goes against a similar bill introduced by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick earlier this year. Reportedly, Patrick's bill included a provision that would end all employee noncompete agreements, an issue that was contentious with a certain segment of the technology sector.

However, DeLeo and his camp believe his bill is key for creating jobs, an issue that has become paramount for Massachusetts workers and the local economy.

"One of the most important aspects that we have to address in the House, especially in these difficult economic times, is the creation of jobs, jobs, and more jobs," DeLeo explained. "That's what this legislation does."

Representative Joseph Wagner (D-MA), who serves as House Chairman of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, stated that legislators may eventually compromise with a bill that would limit noncompetes while not eliminating them altogether.


Compiled by Holly Johnson

Sources:

"DeLeo plan would preserve tech noncompetes," bostonglobe.com, June 3, 2014, Callum Borchers, http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2014/06/03/noncompete/jnDnJ5N1LJw6FAqSx1mQSK/story.html

"House Speaker DeLeo Touts Computer Science, Worker Training In Jobs Bill," wbur.org, June 3, 2014, Michael Norton, http://www.wbur.org/2014/06/03/house-speaker-deleo-touts-computer-science-worker-training-in-jobs-bill

"Massachusetts House leaders propose $80 million in economic development investments," masslive.com, June 3, 2014, Shira Schoenberg, http://www.masslive.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/06/massachusetts_house_leaders_pr.html

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