Sunday, February 7, 2016

MassBudget: Analyzing the Governor's FY 2017 Budget

MassBudget  Information.
 Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center  Democracy.

Analyzing the Governor's FY 2017 Budget 

The Governor's budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2017 is best described as an austerity budget. It contains small cuts and spending reductions across government and includes few new initiatives. Our newly released Budget Monitor analyzes the budget in detail.

Many of the reductions are due to the early retirement program implemented this year. Perhaps the most important question this budget raises is how those cuts will affect the quality of services provided by our government. With fewer people working at the Department of Environmental Protection (where the Governor proposes a 7 percent reduction in funding), will our state's ability to enforce the laws that keep our air and water clean be degraded? With reductions at the Department of Revenue (where this budget proposes 13 percent less funding), will it be harder for honest taxpayers to get answers from the department and will it be easier for those corporations and other sophisticated taxpayers who seek to evade taxes to avoid paying the taxes they owe? Similar issues will arise across state government, and we won't know the answers until after the budget takes effect.

On the positive side, this budget proposal continues efforts to hire more social workers at the Department of Children and Families so that caseloads will decline and our front line workers can better protect children who are at risk of abuse or neglect. The proposal also funds new efforts to address the opioid addiction crisis, including an additional $9.1 million for the Department of Public Health's Bureau of Substance Abuse Services to support increased prevention and treatment efforts.

The budget reduces the state's reliance on temporary revenue and makes a small deposit into the stabilization fund. But six years into an economic recovery, the budget is still being balanced with temporary revenue, including $150 million that existing law dedicates to the stabilization fund. This continues a long-term pattern we have seen since the state cut income taxes by over $3 billion between 1998 and 2002: deep cuts in recessions, barely balanced budgets in the best of times, and chronic structural budget gaps. This pattern has real world consequences: our Commonwealth has not been able to make important investments in the education and skills of our workers and in the integrity of our transportation infrastructure that could strengthen our economy in the long run. This Budget Monitor examines the Governor's FY 2017 budget proposal in the context of these long-term trends.

For the full Budget Monitor, 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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MA State Budget Funding History
MA State Budget Funding History

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