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House proposes $40.33B budget for FY ‘18

The Massachusetts House of Representatives released a $40.328 billion budget plan today for Fiscal Year 2018 that includes more money for several key EOHHS line items.

The House Ways and Means (HWM) budget proposal is slightly lower than the $40.5 billion FY ’18 plan submitted by Gov. Charlie Baker in January, but is largely in step with what the Governor proposed with regard to health and human services line items. You can access the full HWM budget here. You can review the Providers’ Council’s budget tracker here.

The HWM budget plan favors Gov. Baker's plan to levy an assessment on employers not offering health insurance or with low participation, outlining a number of factors that will determine eligibility and employer contribution, including number of employees No dollar figures are specified, but an annual review is. The House budget does state that a public hearing process would need to take place before any assessment could be mandated.

Announced by Speaker Robert DeLeo and Ways & Means Chair Brian Dempsey, the House Ways and Means Committee’s plan puts $15 million in a rate reserve for early education to boost salaries and help agencies recruit and retain staff – an area already experiencing shortages and projected to grow significantly in the coming years according to the Providers’ Council’s recent Who Will Care? report.

The House proposed $1 million less than the Governor for line item 4401-1000 Employment Services Program, but did include language that would fund Competitive Integrated Employment Services (CIES) and the Young Parents Program (YPP) at “no less than the amount spent in fiscal year 2017.” A number of Council members sent Speaker DeLeo and Chairman Dempsey a letter in March requesting that this language be present in the budget proposal.

A few other items of note:

  • 7004-9024 Mass. Rental Voucher Program: The House has proposed funding of an even $100 million, 2.6 percent more than Gov. Baker and a 15.6 percent increase over FY '17;
  • 4512-0200 Bureau of Substance Abuse Services: The House allocation of 131,700,888 is about $4 million more than the Governor and represents a 6 percent boost over FY '17; and
  • 4513-1000 Family Health Services: Proposed funding of $5.16 million is nearly 7 percent more than the $4.8 million proposed by the Governor, but still a 5 percent cut over FY '17.

The House budget plan includes $29.3 million for HIV/AIDS funding, which represents a 5 percent cut from FY ’17 projected spending.

Budget amendments are due by Thursday, April 13 and the budget debate is expected to begin Monday, April 24. If you have questions about the HWM budget or a specific line item, please email Bill Yelenak or call him at 617.428.3637 x122.