The House largely followed the recommendations of its Ways and Means (HWM) Committee in crafting its budget proposal last week. The state budget is how we as a Commonwealth determine how much we will spend in the coming year to educate our children, provide local services, ensure access to health care, protect public safety, and accomplish everything else we do through our government. In two days of debate the House adopted amendments to the Fiscal Year 2018 budget that increased funding by just under two tenths of one percent from the levels its budget committee proposed last month.
MassBudget's new Budget Monitor describes the changes adopted by the House in each major section of the budget. While many of the House amendments provide targeted funding to specific programs in particular communities, a few address significant issues of statewide concern, including the following:
An increase of $5.0 million (above the $15.0 million proposed by the HWM Committee) for early education and care rates. This additional funding would provide enhanced support for early education quality efforts including salary and benefit increases along with professional development for early educators.
A study on the feasibility of creating a common application for MassHealth and several other public benefit programs. In particular, creating a common application for MassHealth and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or "food stamps") would help identify people who are potentially eligible for SNAP but are unenrolled (the so-called "SNAP Gap"). Doing so would simplify the application for the program and would get more low-income residents in the Commonwealth on SNAP, a fully federally-funded program that is central to combating food insecurity across the state.
The rest of this Budget Monitor examines the House amendments to major state programs in greater detail. Links from the Table of Contents below allow readers to jump quickly to specific sections. Each section also provides links to our on-line budget tools including our Budget Browser (which provides funding information for every account in the state budget going back to FY 2001) and, where applicable, to our Children's Budget and Jobs & Workforce Budget.
To read the full House Budget Monitor, click here (LINK).
The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget) produces policy research, analysis, and data-driven recommendations focused on improving the lives of low- and middle-income children and adults, strengthening our state's economy, and enhancing the quality of life in Massachusetts.
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Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, 15 Court Square,Suite 700, Boston, MA 02108