Thursday, May 28, 2015

MassBudget : Conference Preview: Differences Between the House & Senate Budgets for FY 2016

For those following the State budget, this is the next step in the analysis prepared by MassBudget. The Governor proposed his budget, the House proposed their version, then the Senate recently proposed their version. All three come together in the conference committee to work out the differences and get one budget ready for the Governor to sign by June  30th. 

Franklin depends upon the State for about 30% of its revenue so how the conference works out the differences could ripple down to our budget. The Town Council will be doing their budget hearings June 10th and 11th. With a little luck, the conference differences will have mostly been resolved so the Franklin budget can include the latest and best numbers before the Council vote.

One small item to watch for is the $50,000 for the Horace Mann status. It was in the House budget, doesn't seem to be in the Senate budget, so how it will finally shake out remains to be seen.

MassBudget  Information.
 Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center  Democracy.

Conference Preview:
Differences Between the House & Senate Budgets for FY 2016

The House and Senate have now completed crafting and debating their state budget proposals for the year that begins July 1 (for our full analysis, click HERE). The state budget is the way we as a Commonwealth make decisions about funding for a wide range of things including our local schools, roads and bridges, subways and buses, environmental protection, maintenance of beaches and parks, and supports for working families, like child care, health care, and job training programs.

Both budgets propose small increases in funding for local aid, education, substance abuse prevention and treatment, and other targeted investments.

During floor debate the Senate adopted an amendment that would increase the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and expand the personal exemption in lieu of a scheduled decrease in the income tax rate. This would have the effect of directing tax reductions more towards lower and middle income families and less towards our highest income residents. The House did not include this proposal.

Both the House and the Senate budgets would change the structure of the board of directors for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, providing a larger role for the Secretary of Transportation. Both also authorize a Fiscal Management Control Board for the MBTA, although with different powers. The House proposes suspending at the MBTA the state law that regulates privatization (for more detail, click HERE). The Senate leaves that law in place.

Making meaningful progress towards fixing our transportation systems, making higher education more affordable, or addressing other major issues facing working families would likely require reforming our state tax system in a way that was not considered by either the House or Senate. Currently our state's highest income residents pay substantially less of their income in state and local taxes than other taxpayers. This costs the state approximately $2 billion a year and makes it difficult for the state to address many of the big challenges facing families across the state (for more detail, click HERE).

This Monitor describes major differences between the House and Senate final budgets that will need to be reconciled by the conference committee now meeting. For our full analysis, click HERE.
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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