House and Senate negotiators reached agreement on Friday, July 9 on a $48.1 billion FY ’22 Conference Committee budget that includes a $79 million Chapter 257 Rate Reserve and other human services investments. Gov. Baker was still reviewing the spending plan this week.
Two items the Providers’ Council had been closely watching were preserved in the final Conference Committee budget. The Chapter 257 Rate Reserve (1599-6903) remained at $79 million, as it had been in the Governor, House and Senate proposals. Further, study language supported by the Providers’ Council remained in the final Conference Committee budget. The Council was also pleased to see language requiring a comparison of wages by classification to BLS data from the most recent report.
“We appreciate the Legislature’s continued support of Chapter 257 and their inclusion of study language that will help ensure community-based human services workers are being paid an appropriate wage, commensurate with industry benchmarks and in line with the incredible jobs that they do,” said Providers’ Council President/CEO Michael Weekes.
Additionally, the Employment Services Program (4401-1000) was funded at more than $16 million and included a funding floor for Competitive Integrated Employment Services (CIES), ensuring it would remain funded at no less than FY ’21 levels.
Lawmakers also added roughly $300 million in additional spending due to an uptick in increased tax collections added to the $47.7 billion budgets passed by both branches this spring.
The plan came out of Conference Committee on July 9, nine days after the end of the FY ‘21 fiscal year. Since July 1, the state has been operating on a temporary budget; Massachusetts was one of just four states nationwide that started the fiscal year on July 1 without a budget in place.
The final budget shores up the stabilization or “rainy day” fund. The Senate budget bill had proposed a maximum withdrawal of $1.55 billion, $50 million less than Baker proposed and $325 million less than the House proposed.
The expectation of additional tax revenue was used by budget negotiators to create a $350 million trust fund that can be tapped in future years to cover the cost of a $1.5 billion school funding reform law passed in 2019. The new budget also increases Chapter 70 school aid by $219.6 million in fiscal year 2022 to $5.5 billion.
The budget also makes major investments in Department of Public Health funding above and beyond earlier House and Senate budget proposals. Family Health Services (4513-100), Early Intervention Services (4513-1020) and Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (DV and SA) Prevention and Treatment (4513-1130) all received more funding than they had from any prior proposal.
While the House and Senate had proposed an average funding level of about $50.65 million for DV and SA services, the final Conference Committee budget tacked on more than $5 million in additional funds, proposing a $56.1 million line item – 10.3 percent ahead of FY ’21 spending levels and 11.4 percent more than the Governor proposed in January.
Some other notable line items included:
- MRC Individual Living Assistance (4120-4000):The Conference budget proposed $12.5 million – 5 percent ahead of FY ’21 spending levels and 9.5 percent ahead of Gov. Baker’s proposal.
- DCF Family Resource Centers (4800-0200): The Conference budget proposed $25 million – higher than either the House or Senate budgets. The amount was also 43 percent higher than FY ’21 spending levels and 56 percent higher than the Governor’s proposal.
- DMH Adult Mental Health and Support Services (5046-0000): The Conference budget proposed nearly $510 million – 1.7 million ahead of FY ’21 spending levels and higher than proposed in either the House or Senate budgets.
- DDS Respite Family Supports (5920-3000): The Conference budget proposed nearly $85 million – a 13 percent increase over FY ’21 spending and a 9 percent increase over the Governor’s proposal.
- ELD Elder Home Care Case Management & Administration (9110-1633): The Conference budget proposed $64.4 million – a 3.7 percent increase over FY ’21 spending levels and 2.1 percent more than the Governor’s proposal.