News Senate Ways & Means proposes $47.6B FY ’22 budget; maintains $79 million in Chapter 257 Rate Reserve and CIES funding floor

The Senate Ways & Means Committee this afternoon released a $47.6 billion FY ’22 budget proposal that includes a $79 million Chapter 257 Rate Reserve and other investments in human services programs, including a childcare tax credit and COVID-recovery funds for school districts.

The Senate budget plan calls for a $1.2 billion spending increase, or 2.6 percent more than the current year’s budget. This is about $1.8 billion, or 3.9 percent more, than Gov. Charlie Baker recommended in his FY ’22 budget proposal in January and $64m less than the House budget proposed in April.

Senate President Karen Spilka said today’s budget bill “seeks to put us on a stable fiscal footing and build a more inclusive and resilient commonwealth for all of us.”

“If the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic aftershocks have frayed the fabric of our commonwealth, this budget takes on the important but sometimes invisible work of stitching that fabric back together,” Spilka said at a press briefing.

The Senate is expected to kick off its annual debate of the bill on Tuesday, May 25 and will likely file hundreds of amendments by the 2 p.m. deadline on Friday.

The Senate budget bill proposes a maximum withdrawal from the state’s “rainy day” stabilization fund of $1.55 billion, $50 million less than Baker proposed and $325 million less than the House proposed.

It contains a $16m proposal to convert a childcare and dependent tax deduction into a refundable credit, which Senate leaders said would offer an average credit of $190 annually to about 85,000 low-income families.

It includes a handful of new revenue sources not considered by the House, such as authorization of debit card lottery payments, and overhaul of the state’s film tax credit program and measures to reform state and local taxes for certain “pass-through” corporate entities. Like the House budget and Baker’s proposal, the Senate bill does not call for any broad-based tax increases on individuals.

The Senate echoed the House’s budget proposal to boost spending for school finance reform by establishing a $40 million fund to help school districts struggling after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Senate plan, like the House bill, also supported Gov. Baker’s request for $79 million in addition Chapter 257 reserves and included funding for Competitive Integrated Employment Services, the state’s only welfare-to-work program, in the DTA’s Employment Services Programs line item (4401-1000).

Like the House bill, the Senate bill includes a Council-proposed funding floor for CIES at “not less than the amounts expended in fiscal year 2021…” Because the measure appears in both the House and Senate’s bills, the measure will not be subject to Conference Committee debate.

Like the House proposal, the Senate’s budget did not include an expected $4.5 billion in federal aid coming to the state in June, which legislators have said they handle with a separate spending bill.

You can access the Senate budget proposal here.

Other items of note in the SWM proposal include:

  • EEC: SWM funds 3000-7050, Family & Community Engagement, at $11.54m. The Gov. proposed funding it at $14.04m, and the Senate proposal represents a 17.82 percent decrease from his proposal.
  • MCB: SWM funds 4110-3010, Vocational Rehabilitation for the Blind, at $2.83m, matching the amount Gov. Baker proposed in his budget. This is less than the $3.13m projected spending level for FY ’21, representing a 9.45 percent decrease
  • MRC: SWM funds 4120-4000, Individual Living Assistance at $12.5m, almost 4 percent less than projected spending for FY ’21, but 5.3 percent more than the House proposed
  • DYS: SWM funds 4200-0300, Residential Services for Committed Populations, at $106.8m, on par with proposed House and Governor spending bills, but 4.4 percent less than projected.
  • DTA: SWM funds 4401-1000, Employment Services Program, at $15.5m, a 10.3 percent boost from Gov. Baker’s proposal, but a 6.7 percent drop from FY ’21 projected spending levels.
  • DTA: SWM 4408-1000, Emergency Aid to Elderly & Disabled, at $101.5m, 2 percent more than the House bill and 19.3 percent more than Gov. Baker’s budget.
  • DPH: SWM 4513-1020, Early Intervention Services, at $38m, a hefty 25.4 percent more than the Governors’ FY ’22 proposal, and 4 percent more than proposed House spending.
  • DCF: SWM 4800-0200, DCF Family Resource Centers, at $23m, 31.8 percent more than FY 21, and 43.6 percent than both the House and Governor FY ’22 proposals.
  • DDS: SWM funds 5911-2000, Transportation Services, at $27.1m., 34.8 percent higher than Gov. Baker’s budget proposal, which sought $20.1m in funding.

Council members: If you believe your program or services will be positively or negatively affected by this budget proposal, please contact Bill Yelenak so we can learn more about your line item and track it throughout the budget debate

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