MASSACHUSETTS STATE BUDGET
Mass House of Representative's FY18 Budget
Each year the Governor, the House and the Senate each create a state’s budget for the next fiscal year, which are then reconciled into a final compromise bill. The House’s version of the budget for Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) was completed on April 25th, includes an increase in local aid over the current year, and totaled $40.4 billion.
The House’s budget increases Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) by $40 million and local education aid (Chapter 70) by $106 million. Cities and towns use UGGA to fund general government services and have broad leeway to distribute this money for programs across their local budgets. Chapter 70 aid is the main source of state funding for public schools in Massachusetts and this increase guarantees that every school district will receive a minimum increase of $30 per pupil in FY18. The budget also begins to implement recommendations made by the Foundation Budget Review Commission’s by making adjustments to more accurately reflect employee health benefits through a $31 million investment. It also adds $4 million to the special education circuit breaker and increases funding for regional school transportation by $1 million.
In crafting their budget, the House priorities included funding early education and care (EEC), substance addiction initiatives, and funding to help individuals with developmental disabilities. The FY18 budget makes investments to improve Massachusetts’ early education and care system, with a focus on supporting the EEC workforce and provides $20 million for the early educator rate reserve and $4 million for quality programming and workforce training. This funding will help increase salaries for early educators, which will ultimately increase teacher retention and improve the quality of the Commonwealth’s EEC system.
Since FY12, the Legislature has increased funding for substance addiction services to unprecedented levels and passed two landmark bills to help address this public health epidemic. This year’s House budget makes notable investments related to behavioral health and addiction, including almost $132 million for the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services (BSAS). The budget also proposes changing the name of BSAS to the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services in recognition that addiction is a health issue.
After healthcare spending and local aid, the budget for developmental services receives the largest increase in the House’s spending bill. Given the growing and changing need for developmental services this budget funds a $87 million increase bringing spending to more than $1.9 billion for these critical programs.