Conference budget includes more funds, EMAC waiver
The Massachusetts state House and Senate overwhelming approved a $41.88 billion Fiscal Year 2019 budget late Wednesday afternoon that includes about $340 million in additional spending due to higher-than-projected state tax revenues. The spending plan also has an EMAC hardship waiver that was sought by nonprofits and others.
Gov. Charlie Baker has 10 days to review the plan and make vetoes; he cannot increase spending. The Legislature only has until the end of its session on July 31 to override vetoes.
The Senate proposed an EMAC hardship waiver in its budget proposal. The section was included in the final Conference Committee proposal and notes that those that can be considered for the waiver, which "may reduce or fully exempt an employer from its liability under an increased contribution," are "employers providing services that serve the public interest," among other groups. The bill does not address immigration reform.
Signs of the state's increased tax revenue collections are apparent throughout Executive Office of Health and Human Services line items. In many instances, the Conference Committee accepted the highest allocation from the House and Senate proposals.In several places, especially among line items affecting children, the Conference Committee increased the allocation. Of note are:
- EEC 3000-3060 - Supportive and TANF Childcare: funded at $235.8 million or 2.7 percent more than FY '18;
- DTA 4401-1000 - Employment Services Programs: funded at $14.3 million or 1.66 percent more than FY '18. This line item also includes language from the House bill that ensures that Competitive Integrated Employment Services will receive "not less than the amount spent in Fiscal Year 2018";
- DMH 5042-5000 - Child and Adolescent Mental Health: received an additional $660K due to the surplus and is funded at $92.9 million;
- DMH 5046-0000 - Mental Health Services including Adult Homeless/Emergency: The Conference Committee added an additional $1.6 million to bring the FY '19 allocation to $488.7 million;
- JUD 0339-1011 - Re-Entry Programs: Funded at $5 million, the amount sought by criminal justice advocates; this represents a $2 million increase over the initial $3 million allocated in the House budget.
It also includes a nearly $5 million boost for DCF Family Resource Centers (4800-0040) and a Chapter 257 Rate Reserve account (1599-6903) of $39.7 million.