Today the House Ways & Means budget was released. This is a key step our annual process of passing a balanced state budget for the Commonwealth. There's a lot to unpack and a lot of positive developments to note. Below are some slides with highlights on a few key policy areas. Thanks to Ways & Means Chairman Jeff Sanchez (and his great staff) for all their work. This is his first year at the helm of our W&M Committee and he brings a lot of expertise, knowledge and compassion to the role. The full text of the HWM budget is available online here: https://malegislature.gov/Budget/HouseWaysMeansBudget Here are a few general items to note:
• Overall budget is increased by 3.1%, which includes setting aside $88M to boost our state stabilization (rainy day) fund.
• Revenue benchmarks are trending positive, currently up about $892M, but a significant portion of that is attributed to prepayment under new Federal tax law changes.
• Health care & Mass. Health remains the largest chunk of the budget (41%) followed by Education (15%) and Local Aid (14%).
• Local Aid is increased overall by $220M. Within that are some key increases for charter school reimbursement, regional school transportation, special ed circuit breaker reimbursement and homeless student transportation costs.
• Additional $22M for housing and homeless funding
• Additional $37M for substance abuse treatment & prevention
• $66M for early childhood education
• Increase in the earned income tax credit
• Outside section includes enhanced oversight of Mass. State Police, including a special audit unit within the department, but under outside reporting authority.
The full House will take up the budget next and we will have an opportunity to file amendments. I’ll post more one this part of the process when we get underway.