BOSTON (SHNS) – After a few years of momentum towards re-prioritizing civics education against the backdrop of a fraught political landscape nationwide, advocates were “surprised” by Gov. Maura Healey’s move to reduce funding for the trust fund that invests in school civics programs.

“With everything going on in our country, this is a time when we need to continue to increase our investment in civics rather than cut it,” Matt Wilson, executive director of the education nonprofit Discovering Justice, said.

Lawmakers sought to bump the state’s civics education trust fund up from $2 million to $2.5 million this year, but Healey vetoed the increase. Under the budget the governor signed, the trust fund will receive half a million dollars less than last year, at $1.5 million.

“I am reducing this item to the amount projected to be necessary. This account funds a trust fund, which has a carry forward balance. The balance with the addition of the transfer proposed here is sufficient to meet projected demand,” the governor’s veto letter said.

The fund was created by a 2018 law and grants money for student-led civics projects, the development of history and social science curriculum, and professional development training for teachers.

“Each year we receive far more applications for the grants than we are able to fund. It really just shows the interest and the desire for schools and districts,” associate commissioner at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Erin Hashimoto-Martell said in March, when advocates were angling to increase the state’s investment to $3 million.

Wilson said the trust fund does have a carry forward balance, as Healey pointed out in her veto, but that it’s only “a small amount of money that was carried over from last year” and was being saved for DESE to roll out new programs this year.

The department is planning a new professional development opportunity for teachers regarding civics education and would use some of the dollars still left in the trust fund, Wilson said.

“We’re doing more civic showcases, which is kind of like a science fair, and they were planning to expand that. And right now only about half of all school districts who apply are able to access grants,” he said. “This would put the brakes on a number of programs that are really starting to peak and build up the civic education infrastructure in Massachusetts.”

The Boston school system has received 89 percent of the funds it has requested through the trust fund since 2020, getting a total of $158,250. The state has allocated $60,000 to Brockton schools — 57 percent of its requested amount over three years — and some districts such as East Bridgewater and Pembroke have not yet received any funding despite applying for funding twice, according to data from Discovering Justice.

Wilson said he hopes lawmakers will vote to overturn the governor’s veto.