Wednesday, January 22, 2020

MassBudget: Four stories to watch in the FY 2021 budget debate


Four stories to watch in the FY 2021 budget debate

The process to create the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 budget begins this week with the release of the Governor's proposal.

Some key items to look for in the FY 2021 budget cycle are whether the Commonwealth will have the revenue to fund important priorities such as the new law to overhaul K-12 funding, updates to our ailing transportation system and many other pressing needs.
These issues were discussed in a series of recently released reports by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget). A summary of the series is in FY 2021 BUDGET PREVIEW: Four items to watch in the budget debate.

"We have ambitious plans to revamp the way we fund our public schools and to modernize our transportation system. Now, it's time we fund these plans." said Marie-Frances Rivera, president of MassBudget. "These bold plans coincide with a year that is likely to see slower revenue growth. Unless we raise substantial new revenue, it will be difficult to accomplish these goals without shortchanging other important services."
MassBudget: Four stories to watch in the FY 2021 budget debate

In the FY 2021 budget preview series, MassBudget examined:
  • How lawmakers might deliver on a historic bill to overhaul the state's K-12 school funding formula. The bill gives lawmakers seven years to implement the formula. To both keep pace with inflation and phase in the new funding, lawmakers would need to provide about $303 million per year in additional school funding aid from FY 2020 to FY 2027.
  • Whether lawmakers will fund needed upgrades to the transportation system or maintain the status quo. Mounting issues - from worst-in-the-nation traffic congestion to subway system failures - have turned up the pressure on lawmakers to address the state's aging transportation infrastructure. The budget is one way for lawmakers to signal their willingness to invest and innovate.
  • Whether lawmakers will provide support to working families and those who need it most through the state's tax code. The Baker Administration last year proposed doing this through an increase of the state dependent deduction. But, for about the same cost, the state could provide better support for those who need it most through an expanded state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
  • Whether the state will have enough revenues to fund the above priorities and others. The estimated revenue growth for FY 2021 is significantly slower than it has been in recent years. Further, changes to the tax code will take about a $650 million bite out of revenue in FY 2021 and even more in future years.
The full series is posted on the Budget Resources landing page. Analyses of each budget proposal also will be posted on that page shortly after the proposal is released.

MassBudget also will be monitoring any policies or budget items that will help ensure the state's tax system lessens (or does not exacerbate) income inequality.

To track the funding and proposed funding for specific line items, see MassBudget's interactive Budget Browser. This tool will be updated shortly after each proposal is released.
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.

BOSTON, MA 02109

Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, 1 State Street, Suite 1250, Boston, MA 02109

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