Gov. Baker Signs State's $41.2 Billion Budget
BOSTON, Mass. — Gov. Charlie Baker signed the state's $41.232 billion budget on Thursday.
The governor's office boasts that the budget invests some $4.91 billion for K-12 education, more than $200 million to combat the opioid epidemic, and bolsters the state's stabilization fund.
"Since taking office, our administration has worked to reduce an inherited budget deficit, build our reserves by over $1 billion and make targeted investments in education, the opioid epidemic and our cities and towns all without raising taxes," said Governor Baker in a statement.
"We are pleased to sign a balanced budget that manages taxpayer dollars in a fiscally responsible way while providing a tax break for working families and support for critical services for every resident. Lt. Gov. Polito and I appreciate our ongoing partnership with the Legislature to collaborate and compromise on this important blueprint for the upcoming fiscal year."
The budget plan does not raise taxes or fees while reducing the state's reliance on "one-time sources of revenue." Overall the budget increased by 3.2 percent.
The state is also boosting its support for Chapter 70 aid to schools. At $4.91 billion the aid is at an all-time high and an increase of $160.6 million.
The budget moves the Earned Income Tax Credit from 23 percent to 30 percent of the federal tax credit and increases the dairy farm credit.
An additional $37.2 million is planned for unrestricted local aid and the Community Compact Cabinet program, which provides grant assistance to municipalities, will increase to a total of $6.8 million - pending the Legislature's approval of $1.5 million to be combined with the budget's $5.3 million.
"Our Administration has made it a priority to be a reliable partner for cities and towns across the Commonwealth, and this budget reaffirms that commitment," said Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, who heads the Community Compact Program. "This plan will make significant investments in education and local aid, as well as grant programs to support local economic development and public safety initiatives."
The budget calls for $203 million in funding for treatment services for individuals with substance abuse disorder and continues to support the women's addiction treatment services at Taunton State Hospital and programs at the Massachusetts Alcohol and Substance Abuse Center in Plymouth.
It also funds the Department of Mental Health with $109 million more, which includes $83.8 million for Adult Clinical Care Services to address community-based services with mental illnesses.
The Department of Children and Families will receive $1 billion in funding, an increase of $34.2 million. The Baker administration also boasts of increasing accounts that had typically be underfunded such as snow and ice removal, legal services for the poor, and emergency shelter for the homeless.
"Working with our partners in the House and Senate we make great progress in this budget toward funding the cost of services that we know the Commonwealth will incur, to maintain structural balance, and to build our reserves, all of which are important to responsible budgeting," said Secretary of Administration and Finance Michael J. Heffernan.
"This budget is a continuation of our efforts to plan and spend taxpayer resources more efficiently and maximize our investments."
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation receives $582.5 million in funding, including the MBTA and Regional Transit Authorities. The MBTA will receive $127 million in state support.
The budget signed by Baker had just gone through a lengthy debate in the Legislature. Baker first proposes a budget, the House of Representatives takes it and crafts its own version, then the Senate does the same. The two budgets crafted by the House and the Senate are then negotiated between the two sides in a conference committee.
Before signing the budget, Baker vetoed $49 million in spending. The Legislature will now have a chance to override those. But, the budget is significantly overdue - it was supposed to be in place for July 1 - and that now gives the Legislature just a few days for the overrides.
The state is now looking at a surplus in revenue and Baker used Thursday's signing to urge the Legislature to release a supplemental budget which calls for new programs in education - including more school counselors, social workers, and psychologists, intervention programs, community college scholarships - and for local roads and bridges.
The details of the budget can be found here.
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