Governor Charlie Baker. Photo: State of Massachusetts website.
Governor Charlie Baker. Photo: State of Massachusetts website.

Yesterday, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker released a $39.6 billion state budget proposal for fiscal year 2017.

“This year’s budget sets the table for fiscal responsibility and a strong economic environment, without raising taxes or fees on our hardworking families,” Baker said in a press release. Baker is also trying to close a $635 million budget gap.

This proposal “continues the multi-year effort of bringing state spending in line with revenues, significantly reducing the state’s reliance on one-time solutions, and budgeting for a sizable deposit into the stabilization fund.”

In a letter to the Legislature, Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, add:

“We continue to address the Commonwealth’s substance misuse epidemic by adding 150 adult residential treatment beds and for programs to cover prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery services.

“Finally, we are able to continue our commitments to expanded workforce training, early education, public safety, environmental, and transportation programs.”


Early Education Funding Proposals

Among the governor’s specific budget proposals for early education is a new Quality Improvement line item in the Department of Early Education and Care’s (EEC) budget (line item 3000-1020). It would draw on funds transferred from existing line items including UPK, Early Childhood Mental Health, Services for Infants and Parents, Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative, and EEC administration.

Governor Baker’s budget would also level-fund full-day kindergarten grants – a hot topic from last year’s budget debate. This year, Baker has called for changing how the grant is structured. The specific budget language is posted here. We’ll continue to analyze the impact this policy proposal would have on the kindergarten field, so stay tuned for updates.

Baker’s full budget proposal for EEC is posted here.


News Roundup

Baker’s budget ideas are rippling through local media.

The Boston Globe reports:

“State budgets usually go up year after year, and this is no exception: Spending would increase 3.5 percent under Baker’s plan. But much of the new money expected to come in during the fiscal year that begins in July is already eaten up by mandatory costs, such as pensions and debt service.

“One of the largest drivers of new spending is MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program, the growth of which has, for many years, far exceeded both inflation and tax revenue.”

The Boston Business Journal calls Baker’s proposal, “the opening salvo in a state budget process that will require controversial decisions to plug a looming $635 million structural gap.”

WBUR’s Radio Boston featured Noah Berger, president of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, discussing Baker’s budget proposal.

An AP story in the Boston Herald explains, “Governors and lawmakers have typically relied on an array of one-time revenues and other temporary fixes to close annual shortfalls, a tactic Baker said he was determined to gradually move away from. The fiscal 2017 budget calls for $253 million in one-time solutions, down from $1.2 billion in fiscal 2015.”

And MassLive explains, “The budget proposal will now go to the House and then the Senate. Baker will need to sign the budget before the 2017 fiscal year begins July 1.

“Baker said he looks forward to collaborating with the Legislature.”

So, once again, stay tuned. We’ll analyze all the upcoming FY17 budget proposals, and we’ll let you know what we find.