Massachusetts lawmakers send $52.7 billion budget to governor
A $52.7 billion state budget proposal is heading to Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker's desk.
Driving the news: Lawmakers passed the proposal Monday night. The budget includes funding for child care centers, critical MBTA fixes and behavioral health.
- The proposal passed 18 days into the new fiscal year. (The state has been operating on a temporary budget this month to buy lawmakers time.)
Why it matters: Legislators are spending your money, give or take some millions in federal funding. You deserve to know where it's going.
What makes a budget? Usually there are some key components that take up the bulk of state spending.
- Nearly $19.5 billion in gross funding is set aside for MassHealth, which offers health coverage to about 2 million people.
- $3.8 billion is going to the state's pension fund.
- Nearly $1.5 billion is going to the state's "rainy day" fund, bringing its balance to a record $7.35 billion.
- $6 billion is going to Chapter 70 education aid, which offers $60 in aid per public school student.
What's new: The Senate secured $250 million in funding to continue grants for early education and child care centers.
- $266 million will fund the MBTA's efforts to fix critical safety hazards under orders from the Federal Transit Administration.
- $110 million is set aside to extend the universal school meals program, since the federal program expired in June.
- $20 million will be for behavioral health investments.
Plus: The budget sets the foundation for distributing long-awaited tax breaks to Bay Staters by creating a trust fund to hold the money.
Yes, but: The details of the tax breaks are in a separate set of bills — the House and Senate's economic development proposals.
- The House passed its economic development package last week with more than $500 million in tax breaks for renters, seniors, parents and low-income workers.
- The Senate's bill, which is up for a vote on Thursday, includes those same tax breaks with some differences.
- The House wants the tax breaks to take effect in 2023, while the Senate wants to implement them for the 2022 tax year.
- The House and Senate agree on raising the threshold for the estate tax to $2 million, but disagree on other aspects of the estate tax.
Reality check: Once the Senate passes its economic development bill, lawmakers have barely a week to reach an agreement and pass a final bill.
- The bill would get to Baker so close to the end of the legislative session, they wouldn't have time to override any veto the governor makes.
- Meanwhile, lawmakers are also negotiating deals on about a dozen other major bills before July 31.
The bottom line: Legislative leaders have crossed the budget off their to-do list, but they have other work to do before they can bring tax relief to residents.
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