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Conference Preview:
Differences Between the Senate and House Budgets for FY 2017

June 2, 2016
Budget-Monitor-Conference-Preview

During three days of budget debate last week, the Senate adopted 453 amendments adding $61.4 million to the bottom line of the Ways and Means proposal (about one-seventh of one percent).

In the end, the House and Senate budgets are very similar. Not only are the budget totals within 0.1 percent of each other (which makes sense since they had essentially the same amount of revenue to work with), but the two proposals are also within half of one percent of each other in every major category. For example, the House proposes 0.2 percent more for Health Care, including slightly larger investments in public health and more support for MassHealth, while the Senate proposes 0.45 percent more for Education, including modestly more than the House for local public schools and higher education.

Over the next few weeks a House and Senate Conference Committee will work to compromise on these differences and build together a final budget that funds our schools and local services; maintains our roads, bridges, and public transit; keeps our air and water clean; provides supports for those facing difficult challenges; protects our public health; and keeps open our parks, playgrounds, swimming pools and libraries.

This Budget Monitor describes the funding and policy differences between the House and Senate in each major area of the budget, and provides links to in-depth descriptions of programs and issues addressed in each budget proposal.

The tables near the end of this Monitor also show funding differences between the House and Senate budgets not discussed elsewhere.

EDUCATION

Early Education & Care

During floor debate on the FY 2017 budget, the Senate added $545,000 to early education and care line items. This change brought the final Senate’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 budget proposal to $582.4 million for funding early education, much the same (0.3 percent above) as the House proposal. For details on the Senate’s allocations for early education and care, see MassBudget’s Senate Ways and Means Budget Monitor HERE.

The House budget proposal for FY 2017 provides $15.0 million for Early Education and Care Provider Rate Increases compared to $10.0 million in the Senate budget. Salary and benefit increases, along with professional development for early educators, are key mechanisms to improve the quality of services available for preschool-age children.

The Senate budget proposes $4.0 million more than the House proposed for Supportive and TANF Childcare (child care subsidies for kids in the care of the Department of Children and Families [DCF] and those eligible for Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children [TAFDC]). According to Senate estimates, the $233.1 million included in the Senate budget would support an additional 750 kids in TAFDC eligible families with vouchers. The Senate’s funding amount would also allow 600 children in DCF care to receive a full year of this child care support in FY 2017, after having it for only part of FY 2016.

Finally, the Senate proposes two new initiatives: $500,000 for a new Multi-Generational Anti-Poverty Pilot and $2.0 million for Commonwealth Preschool Expansion Grants. For more detail on these initiatives see MassBudget’s Senate Ways and Means Budget Monitor HERE.

Both the House and the Senate consolidated and shifted funding from seven early education and care accounts into a new Quality Improvement line item. In our budget tools, MassBudget shows funding transferred between accounts back to their original place to allow for more accurate comparison with prior years. For detail on this new proposal for early education and care, see the Budget Monitors for the respective budget proposals from the Ways and Means Committees of the House HERE and the Senate HERE.

For full details on the differences between the final House and Senate budgets for early education, see the table below.


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K-12 Education

Overall, the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Senate and House budgets provide similar financial support for K-12 education. However, over 30 line items vary between the two proposals and will need to be reconciled in Conference. For full discussion of the House and Senate education proposals for FY 2017, see the respective Ways and Means Committees Budget Monitors for the House HERE and the Senate HERE.

The Senate budget would provide $4.63 billion in Chapter 70 Education Aid, $10.3 million (0.2 percent) more than the House proposal (including Chapter 70 Reserves). Additionally, the Senate provides a total of $623.3 million for all other K-12 grants and programs, basically level with the House proposal (0.1 percent more).

The Senate budget includes two significant proposals related to the implementation of the recommendations from the 2015 Foundation Budget Review Commission (FBRC). This Commission recommended steps to address current funding challenges for local schools. The FBRC found that the foundation budget is inadequate to help all kids succeed in school and be prepared to thrive. For full detail, see the final Commission report.

The Senate proposals include: 

  • Amending Chapter 70 law to increase foundation budget rates to the levels recommended by the FBRC for special education students, educator health care costs, and support programs for English Language Learners. Additionally the FBRC recommended increasing the foundation budget rate for low-income students, but it didn’t specify by how much. The Senate budget outlines specific dollar amounts that increase funding for students in poverty. The Senate proposal would roughly double the rate of additional funding to support low-income students in Massachusetts.
  • All told, the above change would add over $1 billion to the foundation budget (which would be supported by a combination of state and local funds), making it necessary to phase in the changes over time. To address this, the Senate budget charges the Executive Office of Administration and Finance, along with the House and Senate Committees on Ways and Means, with the development of an implementation schedule for the FBRC recommendations. Furthermore, the Senate codified in their FY 2017 proposal that the FBRC recommendations should begin to be phased in on July 1st 2017.

There are several other significant differences between the proposals from the two branches. Notably, the Senate would provide 89.2 percent less funding for Kindergarten Expansion Grants ($2.0 million compared to $18.6 million from the House). However, the Senate proposes 5.3 percent more funding ($90.0 million compared to $85.5 million) for Charter School Reimbursements. For additional detail on charter school funding, recent proposals from the Governor and the Legislature to alter the reimbursement system, and the impact of recent underfunding, see Charter School Funding, Explained.

The House FY 2017 proposal provides more support than the Senate for several smaller grants and other programs including:

  • Statewide College and Career Readiness would be funded at $700,000 in the House budget, and would be eliminated in the Senate budget. This funding supports high school students to build academic skills necessary for workforce and college success, helping them avoid remedial coursework in college.
  • Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment would be funded at $1.7 million in the House budget, $500,000 more than the Senate. This program supports young people with severe disabilities as they take college courses, helping them access higher education, life skills, and employment experiences.

Conversely, the Senate FY 2017 proposal provides more funding than the House for several other grants and programs, including the following:

  • Non-Resident Pupil Transportation would be funded at $1.8 million by the Senate, $1.5 million more than the House. This program supports students enrolling in vocational education programs outside of their home district.
  • A new line item, Assessment Consortium, would be funded at $350,000 in the Senate’s budget. This program would support the development of alternative assessments of student performance including measures beyond traditional test scores.

An outside section of the final Senate budget for FY 2017 would adjust the calculation of community poverty used by the School Building Authority for school construction projects. The provision would compare the low-income percentages from 2013-2014 before significant changes were made to measuring kids in poverty, to the revised measure (economically disadvantaged) used in 2015-2016. The School Building Authority would use the higher figure for the purposes of funding school construction projects.

For extensive details on changes to the process for counting low-income kids, how it can be improved, and the impact on the FY 2017 budget, see Direct Certification for School Meals: Feeding Students, Counting Kids, Funding Schools, and Proposed Low-Income Student Changes Would Have Varied Chapter 70 Impact.

For full details on the differences between the final House and Senate budgets for K-12 education that will be reconciled by the two branches, see the table below.


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Higher Education

Overall, the Senate proposed more higher education funding for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 than the House. This was primarily delivered through greater support to the main line items of several public higher education campuses. In total, the Senate would provide $1.18 billion for higher education, $22.7 million (2.0 percent) above the House proposal.

Neither budget proposal would likely prevent tuition and fee increases within public higher education for the 2016-2017 academic year. For full discussion of the House and Senate higher education proposals for FY 2017, see the respective Ways and Means Committees Budget Monitors for the House HERE and the Senate HERE.

The Senate proposes providing greater resources to several campuses, grants, and programs within higher education, including:

  • The University of Massachusetts (UMass) funded at $521.3 million by the Senate, $13.0 million (2.6 percent) above the House proposal.
  • Foster Care Fee Waivers, funded at $4.8 million by the Senate, $512,000 (12.0 percent) above the House proposal. These waivers help finance the higher education of students who reached adulthood while in the guardianship of the Department of Children and Families.

Conversely, several higher education line items would receive greater funding in the House proposal, including:

  • The UMass Satellite Campus in Haverhill, funded at $2.5 million by the House, does not receive any funding in the Senate proposal.
  • High Demand Scholarships, funded at $1.0 million by the House, twice the Senate proposal. These grants support students pursuing majors in high-growth fields, such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Additionally, the Senate did not include funding for three other new line items proposed by the House:

  • UMass Center at Springfield, funded at $250,000 in the House proposal, would support a center for the study of racial justice and urban affairs, operated by the UMass Amherst.
  • UMass Medical School Research, funded at $2.0 million in the House proposal. This program would promote the commercialization of medical research and the recruitment of world-class medical researchers to UMass.
  • Northern Essex Community College Expansion, funded at $1.0 million in the House proposal.

MassBudget funding totals discussed below make one notable adjustment to facilitate more accurate year-to-year comparisons of higher education spending. Since FY 2001, different policies have dictated when public higher education campuses must transfer different categories of tuition revenue they receive to the state. When revenue must be sent to the state, it is not available for campus operations and has the same effect as reduced state funding to the campuses. To provide more accurate comparison of state support to campuses over time, using official documents from the Administration and the Legislature, MassBudget deducts tuition revenue transferred to the state from the direct appropriations to each campus.

For full details on the differences between the final House and Senate budgets for higher education, see the table below.


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ENVIRONMENT & RECREATION

During its floor debate the Senate added $5.1 million in amendments to its Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 environment and recreation budget for a total of $201.4 million. The Senate proposal is $11.4 million less than FY 2016 current spending and is in line with the House final budget. As noted in the Monitor on the Senate Ways and Means (SWM) Committee budget, HERE, many of the reductions in funding for various environment and recreation activities are likely related to staffing reductions as employees took advantage of an early retirement package included in the FY 2016 budget. Because some of these retired staff will not be replaced, agencies may have difficulty carrying out their functions effectively.

As noted in the Monitor on the SWM budget, the Senate budget, like the Governor’s FY 2017 proposal, consolidates human resources management within the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA). So what may look like a reduction in funding for a few agencies like the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is actually a shift in responsibility from those individual agencies to EOEEA. It appears that the House makes a similar recommendation.

The Senate and House budgets recommend similar funding levels for most environment and recreation programs with a few exceptions including:

  • The House provides $1.6 million to maintain and preserve beaches in the Greater Boston region. During floor debate the Senate adopted an amendment to provide $900,000 for this program which is $650,000 less than the House amount.  
  • The Senate budget provides $41.8 million for the primary account for state parks and recreation facilities. During its floor debate the Senate adopted $2.6 million in amendments that largely fund specific parks and recreation programs in communities throughout the state. The Senate’s budget is $2.1 million above the House amount but is $4.8 million less than FY 2016 current spending. Like the Governor and the House, the Senate recommends increasing to $19.2 million the amount that DCR can retain in revenue it collects from parking and entry fees at state recreation facilities. Even with this increase, total funding for state parks in the Senate budget is $1.6 million below the FY 2016 current budget. This lower funding level, as mentioned above, is likely related to DCR employees electing for an early retirement package in FY 2016. 
  • In its budget the House created a new line-item providing DEP with $535,000 to help municipalities provide safe drinking water to their residents. The Senate budget does not provide funding for this new effort.  
  • The Senate provides more money than the House for efforts to prepare for climate change. The Senate budget includes $250,000 for climate change adaptation and preparedness, which is $100,000 above the House and $50,000 less than the FY 2016 current budget. The Senate also provides $150,000 for a state climatologist. The House provides no funding for this account. 

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HEALTH CARE

MassHealth (Medicaid) and Health Reform

During floor debate, the Senate added $1.7 million to the Senate Committee on Ways and Means (SWM) Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 budget proposal for MassHealth and Health Reform programs. The final Senate budget includes $15.41 billion for MassHealth programs, a $718.8 million increase over FY 2016 totals, or 4.9 percent. This total is $31.8 million less than the amount proposed by the House. The Senate budget also includes a total of $158.8 million for MassHealth administration, $1.6 million less than in the House budget. In addition to funding for MassHealth, the budget proposals include funding for supplemental payments to health safety net providers, funding for other subsidized health programs, and other administrative and operational supports (see table).


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The Senate budget proposal for MassHealth Managed Care is $5.49 billion, $9.0 million less than the House. The proposals differ in two main ways: 

  • During floor debate, the Senate added $1.0 million in funding to support a proposed increase in rates for behavioral health providers. The House budget does not include this provision.
  • The final Senate budget limits funding for infrastructure and capacity building grants to $10.0 million, compared to the $20.0 million included by the House.

The Senate budget proposal also differs from the House budget in the recommendations for funding nursing facilities:

  • The Senate budget proposal recommends increasing nursing facility rates by $30.0 million, whereas the House proposal recommends a $45.0 million increase. During floor debate, the Senate added language that specifies that $20.5 million of the rate increase would pass on to nursing home employees in the form of increased wages or benefits. The House budget specifies that $35.5 million of the rate increase would pass on to employees.
  • An amendment to the SWM budget proposal would restore current budget language allowing for MassHealth reimbursement to nursing home facilities when residents take a leave of absence for either medical reasons (20 days) or nonmedical reasons (10 days). The House budget does not include this provision.

Other differences between the Senate’s and House’s MassHealth budget proposals are:

  • The Senate budget proposes $2.43 billion for MassHealth Fee-for-Service Payments, $7.8 million less than the House. The funding difference is due to differing provider earmarks. The House budget includes $14.8 million for pediatric providers, while the Senate budget allocates $7.0 million.
  • The Senate budget funds a line item (State Plan Amendment Support) in the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) at $200,000 to support a variety of strategies and waivers to improve program flexibility, expand services, or increase federal reimbursements. The House does not include this funding.

Like in the House budget, the Senate proposes a $15.0 million appropriation into the Health Safety Net (via funds from the Commonwealth Care Trust Fund) to support the costs associated with providing care to uninsured or underinsured individuals. In previous years that transfer has been $30.0 million. The Senate amended the SWM proposal in order to preserve eligibility for the Health Safety Net until April 1, 2017. The House budget, on the other hand, would allow EOHHS to move forward with restricting coverage under the Health Safety Net starting on June 1, 2016. For a discussion of the proposed restrictions on the Health Safety Net, see the Senate Ways and Means Budget Monitor HERE.

Neither the House nor Senate budget proposals include language that would prohibit the Administration from implementing its proposed restructuring of MassHealth benefits, nor do they expand estate recovery efforts. The budget proposals both increase an assessment on hospitals by $250.0 million. These assessments would also receive federal matching reimbursements, and the revenues would be deposited in a newly-created MassHealth Delivery System Reform Trust. For a discussion of these proposals, see the Senate Ways and Means Budget Monitor HERE.

The table below lists MassHealth and Health Reform line items with funding differences:


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Mental Health

During floor debate, the Senate added a total of $1.5 million to the Senate Ways and Means Committee (SWM) budget proposal for mental health for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017. With this additional funding—mostly for specific programs—the final Senate budget proposal is $761.4 million, or $1.3 million more than the House proposal. Over the next month, the Legislature will need to resolve the differences between these two budget proposals in Conference.

One particularly notable (although small) amendment would add $50,000 to funding for Child and Adolescent Mental Health to support a partnership with the Dept. of Early Education and Care for an Early Childhood Mental Health Partnership. Along with another $150,000 added for a youth counseling program in Arlington, the final Senate budget for mental health services for children and teens is $88.4 million, just $275,000 more than the House budget proposal.

The final Senate budget proposal for combined adult mental health services is $439.7 million, $1.4 million more than the House proposal. This total consists of $379.4 million for adult mental health supports, $4.0 million for community-based placements, $22.9 million for homelessness support, and $24.1 million for emergency services.

Funding for inpatient services in the final Senate budget is $205.4 million, $400,000 less than in the House proposal.

See table below for details on the funding differences between the House and Senate budget proposals.


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Public Health

During floor debate, the Senate added a total of $6.0 million to the Senate Ways and Means Committee (SWM) budget proposal for public health for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017. With this additional funding—a large portion of which would be earmarked for specific programs—the final Senate budget proposal is $582.9 million, or $2.5 million less than the House proposed public health budget. Over the next month, the Legislature will need to resolve the differences between these two budget proposals in a soon-to-be appointed Conference Committee.

Not surprisingly, most of the funding added to the SWM budget proposal during floor debate would be directed to the substance abuse prevention and treatment. Throughout this year’s budget debate there has been a wide variety of proposals and strategies to address the Commonwealth’s growing opioid addiction crisis. The Senate added a total of $3.0 million to the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services to support a variety of strategies to address this public health issue. For example, the Senate added $120,000 for a pilot program to support recovery coaches in Western Massachusetts, and included language matching the House’s proposal to direct $1.2 million for an extended release naltrexone (“Narcan”) pilot program. To support additional substance abuse programming, the Senate identified $2.0 remaining in the Substance Abuse Services Fund. This funding would be directed to substance abuse programming the Dept. of Public Health. Even with this additional funding, the Senate recommends $4.2 million less for substance abuse prevention and treatment services than the House.

A Senate amendment added language (not included in the House budget) that would create an interagency task force on Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome and Substance-Exposed Newborns. With the growing opioid epidemic, there has been an increase in the number of babies born who are affected by opioids and other substances mothers used while pregnant. This task force would attempt to coordinate services for these babies and small children and develop a statewide plan for intervention and treatment. The task force would be charged with developing a plan by March 2017.

The Senate added $514,000 to the SWM funding proposal for youth engagement and violence prevention programs, bringing total Senate funding to $12.9 million. This is 5.6 percent or $679,000 more than recommended by the House. The final Senate budget includes $60,000 added to the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative for a total of $9.0 million, and $454,000 added to Youth-at-Risk Matching Grants, for a total of $2.6 million. The intent of these community-based grant programs is to keep young people engaged in interesting and productive activities, in part to prevent them from gravitating to violent or other antisocial behavior.

Another important initiative added to the Senate budget during floor debate was an amendment that would create a new type of dental health clinician known as a dental hygiene practitioner. This licensed professional would be able to provide specific services, such as nonsurgical extractions. These dental therapists would also receive training on serving patients with special needs. Access to oral health care is a particularly troubling issue for older adults, for individuals with disabilities, and for people living in rural communities. Licensing this new mid-level oral health care clinician would expand access to essential health care for these underserved populations.

See table below for details on the funding differences between the House and Senate budget proposals.


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State Employee Health Insurance

The Senate did not add any funding for state employee health insurance during floor debate, and the Senate’s final budget proposal for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 differs little from the House final budget proposal. The small differences are largely due to slightly different spending estimates.

MassBudget’s totals for state employee health insurance include adjustments that allow for more accurate across-year comparisons (see table and discussion in Senate Ways and Means Budget Monitor HERE.)

State Retiree Benefits

The state has adopted a schedule to move towards full funding of health and non-pension post-employment benefits (“OPEB”) for retirees. The Commonwealth funds the current and future OPEB through a variety of transfers to the State Retiree Benefits Trust. The Senate recommends $445 million in an operating transfer directed to the State Retiree Benefits Trust, $5.0 million less than recommended by the House. Like the House, the Senate transfers an additional $72.5 million to fund OPEB from either unexpended debt payments or the General Fund. (See further discussion in Senate Ways and Means Budget Monitor HERE.) This total is $48.3 million less than the amount indicated for FY 2017 in the statute, and functions as a one-time saving used to balance the budget. (See further discussion about one-time savings in Senate Ways and Means Budget Monitor HERE.)

The following table lists line items with funding differences between the House and Senate budget proposals:


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HUMAN SERVICES

Child Welfare

During floor debate, the Senate added $1.0 million to the Senate Ways and Means Committee (SWM) budget proposal for child welfare services for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017. With this additional funding, the final Senate child welfare budget is $964.7 million, $9.0 million more than the House proposal. The Legislature will have to resolve these differences in Conference.

The single largest difference between the House and Senate proposals is in the funding for Local and Regional Lead Agencies for the Department of Children and Families (DCF). The Senate budget includes $6.0 million to continue support for these coordinating offices; the House budget does not. The Senate also added $400,000 to the SWM budget proposal to hire additional trial attorneys to handle child welfare cases. The House budget does not include this funding.

The other notable funding difference between the House and Senate budget proposals is in the funding for Family Resource Centers. The Senate budget proposal includes $2.6 million more than the House for these community-based family resource organizations funded through DCF. The Senate also funds the Family Resource Centers in the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) at $2.5 million, whereas the House does not propose funding for these centers. (Funding for the centers in EOHHS is included in the “Other Human Services” subcategory total in the chart at the end of this Budget Monitor.) See chart below for combined funding.


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The Senate also added $250,000 for a new program focusing on Foster Care Parent Outreach. This funding would support a campaign to recruit new foster parents. There has been concern that the lack of available foster parents has led to more children being placed in congregate care facilities.

The Senate budget funds the Office of the Child Advocate at $1.0 million, 66.7 percent more than the House, which proposes level-funding that office at $600,000. The Senate budget also includes language modifying the office. The Child Advocate is responsible for investigating instances when a child in state custody or who is receiving state services is at risk of or suffered serious harm, and investigating circumstances when the state may have failed to protect a child from harm. The Senate proposal would, among other changes, make this office more independent of the Governor, and give it responsibility for having a broad overview of services for children across state agencies. (MassBudget includes funding for the Office of the Child Advocate in its “Other Administrative” totals—not “Child Welfare” totals—in the chart at the end of this Budget Monitor.)

See table below for details on the funding differences between the House and Senate budget proposals.


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Disability Services

The Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Senate budget proposes funding services for people with disabilities at $1.89 billion, about the same as the House FY 2017 budget proposal. Although the difference is small, many of the line item appropriations differ between the House and Senate proposals (see table below).

The Senate proposes to fund the Aging with Developmental Disabilities program at $250,000, whereas the House did not propose funding for this program. This program provides direct support for older adults with developmental disabilities, staff training for identifying age-related conditions, and data collection on the effectiveness of support and training.

The Senate proposes to fund Community Transportation Services for the Developmentally Disabled, at $21.7 million, which is $1.0 million below the House proposal. These services provide transportation assistance from home to community-based day programs or employment services.

Finally, the Senate proposal seeks to fund Turning 22 Services for the Developmentally Disabled at $8.0 million, which is a $1.0 million above the House proposal. This program provides services to young adults with disabilities during the transition year in which they turn 22 and age out of special education programs into adult services.


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Elder Services

The Senate and the House propose similar funding levels for Elder Services in their budgets for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017. The Senate’s $270.9 million budget proposal for these programs is half a percentage point (or $1.3 million) above the House proposal, and both are approximately 2.0 percent above current FY 2016 spending levels.

One major differences between the House and Senate proposals is the Senate’s proposed consolidation of some major accounts that fund elder home care services. (To read about this consolidation, which is also proposed by the Governor, see MassBudget’s FY 2017 Senate Ways and Means Budget Monitor.) In aggregate, the Senate’s proposal for home care services is $1.1 million above the House’s budget proposal. This additional funding would support a proposed 15 percent rise in the income eligibility ceiling for home care services—allowing more seniors access to these services.


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pLastly, Grants to Council on Aging, which provide funding to Council on Aging centers that offer services to and advocate for elders around the Commonwealth, receive $118,000 less funding from the Senate than the House’s FY 2017 budget proposal. Both proposals are approximately $1.0 million above current FY 2016 spending.

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Juvenile Justice

The House and the Senate propose similar levels of Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 funding to the Department of Youth Services (DYS). The House budget proposal provides $176.5 million for juvenile justice programs, while the Senate proposes to provide an additional $632,000. When compared to current FY 2016 spending, both proposals are essentially level-funded.

One of the major differences between the House and Senate proposals is an additional $500,000 that the Senate would dedicate to a Detention Diversion Advocacy Program. The program would aim to prevent young people entering the court system from advancing further into the juvenile justice system. The program would be coordinated by a private, non-profit that specializes in child welfare and juvenile justice programming. This program is not included in the House proposal.

The Senate also proposes a new Juvenile Justice Pilot Program at $200,000. This competitive grant program would be administered by the office of the commissioner of probation to divert juveniles and young adults from the juvenile and criminal justice systems prior to arrest or arraignment. The program would emphasize a multidisciplinary approach in working with young people and encourage strong collaboration among law enforcement, schools, community-based organizations, and government agencies.

Both the House and Senate proposals increase funding for the Alternative Lock Up Program to $2.3 million from $2.1 million in the current FY 2016 budget. This program provides secure placements for youth arrested when courts are not in session and is designed to provide a safe environment while awaiting a court appearance. Learn more about the state’s Alternative Lock Up Program and its funding history in our Children’s Budget.


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Transitional Assistance

The Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Senate budget proposal seeks to fund transitional assistance programs and services at $677.1 million, which is $2.4 million (0.4 percent) below the House FY 2017 budget proposal. The net difference is small, but many of the line item appropriations differ between the House and Senate proposals (see table below).

The Senate proposes funding Transitional Assistance for Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) at $202.4 million, $7.4 million below the House budget proposal. With an improving economy, one would expect more people to be able to secure employment and improve their circumstances rather than seek this assistance. The decrease assumes a reduction in caseloads. However, current caseload reduction may partially result from new administrative changes that make it harder for clients to maintain their benefits.

The Senate includes an increase of the clothing allowance from $200 to $250. The clothing allowance is for a one-time payment made in September to help poor families pay for back-to-school clothing. The House kept the current clothing allowance at $200. Also, the Senate included an amendment to allow applicants for TAFDC 60 days to do a job search and an amendment to retain the work and time limit exemption for caregivers of a disabled parent, grandparent, or sibling.

The Senate proposes higher funding levels than the House in several areas:

  • The Senate proposal seeks to fund the Employment Services Program (ESP) at $12.7 million, about $800,000 (6.7 percent) above the House proposal. ESP is the primary education and job-training program for TAFDC clients. Included in the Senate proposal is a $1.0 million earmark for employment support services for non-English and non-Spanish speaking immigrants. The House proposes $894,000 for these services.
  • The Senate proposal seeks to fund Pathways to Self-Sufficiency at $1.5 million, an amount $500,000 above the House proposal. This funding supports job placement and training for TAFDC clients who, as a result of the 2014 welfare reforms, will no longer be exempt from the work requirement. The 2014 welfare reform mandated alignment of state disability standards with federal SSI disability standards.
  • Transportation for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Participants is a new program (introduced in the Governor’s FY 2017 budget proposal) that the Senate seeks to fund at $2.6 million. Currently, SNAP has a work requirement for “able-bodied” persons without dependents. These are adults who are between the ages of 18 and 49, not receiving SSI benefits or otherwise disabled, not living with minor children, and not pregnant. The new program likely would support these SNAP recipients who are participating in the work program.

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Other Human Services

During floor debate, the Senate added $3.1 million to the Senate Ways and Means Committee (SWM) budget proposal for other human services for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017. This funding includes allocations for veterans’ services, food banks, and some cross-agency initiatives. With this additional funding, the final Senate budget proposal is $207.8 million, or $4.5 million more than the House proposal. The Legislature will need to resolve these funding differences in Conference over the next month.

The Senate added $2.1 million in funding for the Emergency Food Assistance Program, bringing total funding up to $18.1 million, $475,000 above the House proposal. This funding supports the statewide network of food banks that provide food to families struggling to make ends meet. The Senate added $929,000 in total to veterans’ services, bring total funding to $147.8 million, essentially level with the House proposal. Much of this additional funding proposed by the Senate would be designated for specific local programs.

The final Senate budget proposal differs from the House proposal in a few other areas. The Senate final budget includes $1.0 million for a Common Application Portal, an important initiative not included in the House budget proposal. This funding would support an ambitious effort to develop a shared application for a wide range of public benefits, including MassHealth, child care subsidies within the Department of Early Education and Care, and SNAP (formerly known as “food stamps”) benefits. The Senate budget language proposes that individuals would be able to apply simultaneously for these particular programs by the start of FY 2018, with additional benefits—including housing subsidies—added to the common application portal by the start of FY 2019. Applying for public benefits can be complicated and confusing. A shared application for a variety of benefits would simplify and streamline this process for applicants, and would also improve administrative efficiency for the agencies.

The Senate funds the Family Resource Centers in the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) at $2.5 million, whereas the House does not propose funding for these centers. The Senate budget also includes $2.6 million more than the House for Family Resource Centers funded in the Department of Children and Families (DCF). (Funding for the centers in DCF is included in the “Child Welfare” subcategory total in the chart at the back of this Budget Monitor.) See chart below for combined funding.


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See table below for details on the funding differences between the House and Senate budget proposals.


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INFRASTRUCTURE, HOUSING & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Transportation

For the most part, the Senate and House budget proposals for transportation in Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 are very similar. The largest difference is the Senate’s $84.1 million proposal for the state’s 15 Regional Transit Authorities, which is $3.1 million (3.8 percent) more than the House proposes.

Other differences are smaller. Both the Senate and the House propose slightly more funding for the Massachusetts Transportation Trust Fund (MTTF) than the Governor’s proposal, while leaving the amount below current FY 2016 levels. The MTTF contributes to highways, transit, intercity rail, small airports, the Massachusetts Turnpike, and the Motor Vehicle Registry. The MTTF receives funds from the Commonwealth Transportation Trust Fund, tolls, and federal transportation sources. Both the House and Senate follow the Governor’s proposed reduction to the MTTF, roughly corresponding to the $6.5 million in 9C cuts last January and the $28.8 million in reduced employee salaries and benefits at the Department of Transportation from acceptance of early retirement incentives (those reductions and their potential effects are discussed in MassBudget’s Budget Monitor for the Governor’s FY 2017 budget). The House FY 2017 proposal adds $425,000 to this amount for targeted local projects, with most funds going to projects in Worcester and Marlborough. The Senate proposes a different set of projects totaling $976,706, with most funds going toward projects administered by regional transit authorities.

The House and Senate additionally propose several policy riders including:

  • A House proposal to require the state’s learner’s permit exam to include at least one question on how to interact safely with cyclists and pedestrians. The Senate did not approve inserting this language in its budget proposal.
  • House language for a feasibility study to introduce “high-speed rail” between Boston, Worcester, and Springfield. The Senate included similar language for a feasibility study between Springfield and Boston.
  • A Senate proposal limiting future MBTA fare increases to a total of 5 percent every two years, and clarifying that transit passes count as “fares” covered by these limits. The House budget does not include this proposal.
  • Senate language to modify the “Complete Streets Program” at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, in which cities and towns receive grants to adopt policies for designing roads that encourage safe walking and biking. The House budget does not include this proposal.
  • A Senate proposal to create a Water Transportation Advisory Council for ferry service in the Commonwealth. No such proposal was included in the House budget proposal.
  • Senate language to make E-Z Pass transponders available at full-service Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) locations. The House budget does not include this proposal.

Finally, the Senate projects receipt of $100,000 more than the House from an automatic transfer of sales tax revenue to the MBTA State and Local Contribution Trust Fund.

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Housing

During its debate on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 budget, the Senate adopted $3.5 million in amendments to the state’s housing budget for a total of $450.0 million. This amount is in line with the House final FY 2017 budget but is $38.8 million less than current spending. As noted in the Budget Monitor on the Senate Ways and Means (SWM) Committee budget HERE, the Senate’s budget, like the House budget, is about $40 million lower than FY 2016 current spending for the Emergency Assistance (EA) program that provides shelter to low-income, homeless families. If this lower funding level is included in the final FY 2017 budget, it is likely that the Legislature will be required to provide supplemental funding for the program because the cost of providing shelter for those who are homeless and eligible for shelter will probably exceed the amount appropriated.  

Now that the Senate has adopted its budget proposal for FY 2017, the House and Senate form a Conference Committee to iron out differences between the two budgets.

The Senate budget proposes funding levels higher than the House for several housing programs including: 

  • $6.2 million for the Alternative Housing Voucher Program which is $1.1 million more that the House. The Senate also adopted an amendment which clarifies that these vouchers provide long-term, stable housing for people with disabilities. 
  • $1.0 million for the End Family Homelessness Reserve Fund. The House does not provide funding for this program.
  • $2.0 million for the program that provides assistance to unaccompanied homeless youth up to age 24 who are homeless. This amount is $1.0 million more than the House budget. 
  • $13.0 million for Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT), which provides assistance to families at risk of becoming homeless. This amount is $500,000 more than the House budget. The Senate adopted an amendment that would provide $500,000 to expand RAFT services to the elderly, persons with disabilities and unaccompanied youth who are at risk of becoming homeless. 
  • $1.2 million to expand the number of housing courts in the state from five regional courts to six. The Governor’s FY 2017 budget included a similar proposal but the House budget did not.

The Senate budget also proposes a number of policy changes that differ from the House budget including:

  • Easing eligibility restrictions for the EA shelter program. In recent years the state has restricted low-income, homeless families’ access to EA shelters. (A full discussion of eligibility restrictions for EA is available in MassBudget’s Children’s Budget HERE.) Because of these restrictions some homeless families have had to live in places not meant for human habitation, like a park, a car, or a hospital emergency room, before they would be eligible for shelter. The Senate budget includes language requiring the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to provide EA shelter to families who would otherwise have to sleep in such places before being eligible for shelter. The House budget does not include this proposal.
  • Directing the Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness to create a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Secretaries of Housing and Economic Development, Health and Human Services, and Education. This MOU will direct the three secretariats to work together in coordinating services for low-income households that are facing economic instability and homelessness.

The House proposes $65.5 million for subsidies to public housing authorities which is $1.0 million more than the Senate amount. 

The House also recommends creating a commission to look into how the state could help to provide economic mobility and financial stability for families and individuals with very low incomes. The commission would look at data on strategies that improve housing stability and increase economic self-sufficiency.


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Economic Development

In Massachusetts, we support workforce and business development programs in order to boost the skills of working people and stimulate economic growth. The Senate Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 budget proposes funding economic development at $139.1 million, $3.2 million (2.2 percent) below the House proposal.

Part of the funding difference between the Senate and the House budget proposals comes from a handful of programs and services that the Senate proposes not to fund. Taken together, these differences sum up to $13.1 million, as shown here:


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However, the Senate proposes more funding than the House in many workforce development programs. For instance, the Senate FY 2017 budget proposes to fund:

  • Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Development Grants, which provides training in precision manufacturing for unemployed and underemployed workers, at $1.6 million. This amount is $90,000 (5.9 percent) above the House FY 2017 budget proposal.
  • Re-entry Demonstration Workforce Development Program, a new program, at $500,000, that would provide workforce development and supportive services to individuals transitioning from a house of correction or department of correction. The Governor’s budget proposal introduced this program at $1.0 million but the House proposal didn’t fund it.
  • Digital Health Internship Incentive Fund, a new trust fund proposed by the Senate that would provide stipends for digital health internships through MassTech, at $2.0 million.
  • One-Stop Career Centers at $4.6 million, $550,000 (13.8 percent), above the House budget proposal. These centers help job seekers, particularly those receiving unemployment insurance, to improve their skills and navigate the job search process.
  • Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund (WCTF) at $4.0 million. The Governor’s budget also proposed $4.0 million, and funding was not included in the House proposal. WCTF receives periodic deposits at the discretion of the Legislature. The most recent deposits were in 2016 for $2.2 million and in 2013 for $5.2 million (in inflation-adjusted dollars). Specific objectives of WCTF include supporting the unemployed to find suitable employment and improving employment opportunities for low-income individuals and low-wage workers.
  • YouthWorks at $11.7 million, $2.0 million over the House budget proposal. YouthWorks pays for the salaries of low-income and at-risk youth living in targeted communities for summer and some year-round jobs.

For the arts, sciences, and humanities, the Senate FY 2017 budget proposes $15.2 for the Mass. Cultural Council, which is $3.0 million (24.4 percent) above the House budget proposal. The Council provides grants and services to nonprofit cultural organizations, schools, communities, and artists in Massachusetts.

For service and volunteerism, the Mass. Service Alliance would receive $1.9 million in the Senate budget proposal, $1.5 million (43.5 percent) below the House budget proposal. Senate included targeted funding for various community programs, such as $150,000 for workforce efforts at the Pine Street Inn in Boston and $50,000 for community outreach and education efforts to the Hispanic senior citizens in Worcester.

Finally, for travel and tourism, the Senate proposes to transfer $10.0 million in room occupancy tax revenue (from hotel room taxes) to the Massachusetts Tourism Trust Fund, an entity the Legislature recently created and that is scheduled to go into effect later this year. Specifically, the Senate budget proposes to amend the current statute that creates the Massachusetts Tourism Trust Fund by directing the $10.0 million to the fund and adjusting the distribution of funding to 40 percent ($4.0 million) to Mass. Office of Travel and Tourism (MOTT) and 60 percent ($6.0 million) to the Regional Tourism Councils. The $10.0 million transfer is off budget. In addition to the $10.0 million to these two accounts, the Senate proposes adding over $4 million to MOTT for various local tourism projects throughout the Commonwealth. Taken all together, the Senate proposal for travel and tourism is $3.0 million below the House.


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For all differences in funding between the House and Senate line items, see the table below.


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LAW & PUBLIC SAFETY

Overall, funding levels provided by the Senate and the House for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Law & Public Safety programs are very close – the Senate’s total budgetary outlay of $2.68 billion for these programs is only $9.7 million (or a third of 1 percent) higher than the House’s proposal. This similarity in total funding levels, however, masks a number of substantial differences that exist at the line item level – roughly 50 Law & Public Safety accounts are funded at different levels in the Senate vs. the House budgets. These differences will need to be resolved in Conference.

In the area of Courts & Legal Assistance, the Senate provides a net of $5.9 million more than the House for the trial courts (including both increases and some reductions). The Senate provides $6.1 million more for the Committee for Public Counsel Services (including an account funding salaries for CPCS attorneys). The Senate also provides 2.0 percent more than the House for most of the individual trial courts, though $1.1 million less than the House for an account dedicated specifically to funding trial court justices’ salaries. The Senate, however, provides $812,000 less than the House for a Recidivism Reduction Pilot Program and $2.8 million less for Specialty Drug Courts. The House provides $18.5 million for the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (to fund indigent defense), an amount $500,000 higher than the Senate proposal.

In the area of Law Enforcement, the House and Senate provide nearly identical overall levels of funding. Nevertheless, there are a number of significant differences at the line-time level. The Senate provides $8.0 million (or $2 million more than the House) for the Shannon Grant Gang Prevention Program and nothing (or $2.5 million less than the House) for the Local Law Enforcement Assistance Program. The Senate provides $770,000 more for the Department of State Police.

In the area of Prisons, Probation & Parole, the Senate provides $5.4 million more than the House overall, though again, this net figure includes line-items for which the Senate provides more than the House and others for which it provides less. The Senate provides $3.0 million more than the House for the Commissioner of Probation, and $418,000 more for the Office of Community Corrections. The Senate also provides a little more than the House for several sheriffs’ departments and a number of related programs. The House provides $598,000 more than the Senate for the Department of Corrections.

The House provides $2.0 million more, overall, for Prosecutors than does the Senate. Among the largest differences, the Senate provides no funding for a new program proposed by the House, the Youth and Young Adult Drug Offender Diversion Program. Under the House proposal, there would be a new grant program for district attorneys to design and implement ways of diverting youth and young-adult, non-violent drug offenders away from the court system and into treatment programs. The House provides $1.0 million for this purpose. Likewise, the House provides $500,000 for a salary reserve for Assistant District Attorneys, in order to attract and retain talented young staff – the Senate provides no funding for this account.    

In other areas of Law & Public Safety, the Senate provides $1.0 million for a multi-agency task force targeting illegal tobacco sales and distribution. This task force was created through the FY 2016 budget process, at which time it was assumed that the task force would generate $7 million in revenue in FY 2016 through its enforcement efforts. The taskforce was funded at $1.0 million in FY 2016. The House provides no FY 2017 funding for this taskforce. The Senate meanwhile, provides no funding for the Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC), an operation located within the Boston Police Department and funded in part by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The House provides the BRIC with $2.3 million.

Lastly, in the final version of its FY 2017 budget, the Senate includes a detailed proposal to bring Massachusetts identification cards and licenses into compliance with requirements of the federal REAL ID program, as established by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The House budget already includes such a proposal (which follows closely the proposal made by Governor Baker). The Senate and House proposals are not identical, but they are very similar. The small differences (mostly in wording and syntax) will need to be reconciled in conference. (Read more about the REAL ID proposals in MassBudget’s FY 2017 House Budget Monitor.)

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LOCAL AID

General Local Aid

Both the House and Senate propose the same $1.02 billion amount for Unrestricted General Government Local Aid for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 budget.

Other Local Aid

For Fiscal Year (FY) 2017, the Senate proposes $6.0 million for the Municipal Regionalization and Efficiencies Incentive Reserve and the House proposes $7.0 million. The proposals would generally fund different statewide programs and different targeted local projects. More specifically:

•    The Senate proposes $2.0 million to fund a competitive grants program for regionalizing services or planning. The House budget does not include funding for this program.

•    The Senate proposes $3.0 million for a competitive public safety grants program for populous communities with low per-capita police funding. Current funding for the program in FY 2016 is $4.3 million. The House proposes reducing funding for this program to $500,000.

•    The House budget proposes $2.65 million for the Community Compact incentive program to support best local practices, the same amount proposed by the Governor’s budget. This program is not included in the Senate budget.

•    The House proposal for FY 2017 includes $2.8 million for continuing a District Local Technical Assistance Fund administered by the Division of Local Services within the Department of Revenue. This program is not included in the Senate budget proposal.

•    Both chambers propose about $1.0 million for a different set of locally targeted projects, such as bridges, bike lanes, schools, and technology improvements.

An outside section in the Senate budget proposal would allow municipalities to charge up to a $1,000 fine to utilities that fail to remove excess utility poles after a specified period. The House budget does not contain this language.


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OTHER

Libraries

Overall, Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 funding levels proposed for libraries by the House and Senate are very similar, differing by less than 2 percent. The Senate provides $25. 4 million, an amount $502,000 less than the House. At the line-item level however, there are a number of more notable differences between the House and Senate proposals. The House provides $250,000 more for Regional Library Local Aid than does the Senate and $500,000 more for Public Libraries Local Aid. The House also provides $200,000 for The Massachusetts Center for the Book; the Senate provides nothing for this account. At the same time, the Senate provides $148,000 more than the House for the Board of Library Commissioners and $300,000 more for the Library Technology account. These differences will have to be reconciled during the Conference process.


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More notable than these differences between the House and Senate budgets in proposed FY 2017 funding levels, however, is the very steep drop in annual state support for libraries since FY 2001. Where libraries received $48.0 million in FY 2001 (adjusted for inflation), current FY 2016 funding is $25.3 million, a decline of $22.7 million, or 47.1 percent.


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Additional Line Item Differences

In addition to the spending accounts discussed above, the House and Senate Conference Committee will also need to reconcile spending differences detailed in the tables below. These tables are organized in the following MassBudget subcategories – Commercial & Regulatory Entities, Constitutional Offices, Executive & Legislative, and Other Administrative. 

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REVENUE

Overall, the House and Senate FY 2017 budgets are very similar in terms of the temporary revenue solutions included in each (see table, below). Both draw on one-time and other temporary tax and non-tax revenue sources. Such revenue sources are useful for balancing the budget only in the current fiscal year and their use most often adds to the challenge of balancing the budget in future years (to read more about the state's projected FY 2017 budget gap, see MassBudget's FY 2017 Budget Preview).  This is a recurring challenge, that some six years into an economic recovery, it remains necessary to draw on one-time and other temporary sources to balance our state budget. The Commonwealth’s overall revenue structure is not able to generate an adequate stream of ongoing revenue, even in times of economic expansion.

Both the House and Senate budgets also use a number of other budget-balancing solutions, including underfunding several accounts that likely will require supplemental, mid-year funding. This too is problematic. Best budgeting practices would include fully funding these accounts as part of the initial budget, rather than assuming that additional funding will be provided mid-year. More detailed discussion of the items listed in the table below can be found in the Revenue section of MassBudget’s Senate Ways and Means FY 2017 Budget Monitor.


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The House and Senate budgets differ very little in non-tax revenues. The Senate budget during floor debate made only a few changes that would affect estimated non-tax revenue estimates. The Senate estimates $1.0 million more in revenue from abandoned property, and some slight revisions to estimates for federal reimbursements, in part tied to differences in spending proposals. (For a more detailed discussion of non-tax revenue, see the Senate Ways and Means Budget Monitor HERE.)

While the House and Senate proposals align closely on additional tax and non-tax revenues, and on other budget-balancing solutions (see above), there are a number of other revenue-related proposals on which they differ, including the following:

  • The Senate proposes creation of a special unit within the Office of the Inspector General that would be responsible for reviewing state “tax expenditures,” also commonly referred to as tax breaks. This unit would be charged with evaluating the public policy purpose of each tax expenditure and “whether existing tax expenditures are an effective means of accomplishing those public policy purposes.” The Senate provides $500,000 for this unit, while the House budget includes no such proposal. (For more discussion of this issue, see MassBudget’s Senate Ways & Means, FY 2017 Budget Monitor.)
  • The Senate proposes a review of the current “clawback” provisions associated with certain state tax breaks, including an analysis of such provisions in other states, an assessment of economic impacts for taxpayers, and a set of recommendations for structuring effective clawback provisions for current and future tax breaks. The House budget includes no such proposal. Clawback provisions allow cities and states to recoup some or all of the value of tax breaks that were provided to businesses should said businesses fail to meet certain agreed upon goals, benchmarks or other conditions. These typically include goals regarding the number of jobs created or the amount of money spent on capital improvements.
  • The Senate provides funding for the Commissioner of Revenue to offer grant funding to qualified low-income taxpayer clinics to expand their work with low-income taxpayers, helping these taxpayers to file tax returns and helping them with any disputes they may have with the Department of Revenue. Increased and improved tax filings among low-income households likely will increase access to a number of federal and state tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and others. The Senate provides $250,000 for this purpose. The House budget includes no such proposal.
  • The Senate proposes requiring the Department of Revenue (DOR) to conduct an analysis of the single sales factor apportionment formula, which is used in determining a portion of the Massachusetts corporate income taxes paid by business. DOR is permitted to seek input from interested stakeholders. The House budget includes no such proposal. (Read more about the Singles Sales Factor in this MassBudget factsheet.)
  • The Senate proposes creation of a commission to study online fantasy gaming and “daily fantasy sports,” including how best to regulate this new industry and what the potential effects might be on the Commonwealth’s revenue stream. The House budget includes no such proposal.
  • The House proposes a study on whether or not to exempt Massachusetts municipalities from paying the motor fuels tax on the fuel they purchase for city/town use. The study would be conducted by the Office of Administration and Finance (ANF) in collaboration with the Department of Revenue and the Department of Transportation. The study is required, among other things, to examine impacts on state and local revenues and on transportation infrastructure, as well as to examine distributional impacts on different income groups. The Senate budget includes no such proposal.
  • The House proposes a study on the effects of reducing the state sales tax from 6.25 percent to 5 percent. The study would be conducted by the Office of Administration and Finance (ANF) in collaboration with DOR. The study is required, among other things, to examine impacts on state and local economies, changes in employment levels, and distributional impacts among different income groups. The Senate budget includes no such proposal.

These differences will need to be reconciled in Conference.

TOTAL BUDGET BY CATEGORY AND SUBCATEGORY

In order to allow for more accurate comparisons from year to year and to better include all appropriated spending, MassBudget makes certain adjustments to the way budget data are presented by the Administration and Legislature. Details are below the chart.

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  • MassBudget’s totals include the “pre-budget transfers” of funds. Statutes require that the Legislature transfer portions of revenue prior to the appropriation process to support certain functions. Although these transfers function no differently from appropriations, the Governor and Legislature do not reflect these expenditures in their budget totals; instead, they are shown as amounts deducted or transferred from revenue prior to the budgeting process. To better reflect total state funding, MassBudget includes these pre-budget transfers in appropriation totals. In FY 2017, these add $4.22 billion to the total: tax revenues dedicated to the MBTA and school building assistance, cigarette excises dedicated to the Commonwealth Care Trust Fund, the state contribution to the pension system, a transfer to the State Retiree Benefits Trust, and transfers to the Workforce Training Trust. The FY 2017 Senate budget proposal includes a new pre-budget transfer to the Mass. Tourism Trust in order to fund specific tourism-related line items.
  • MassBudget’s totals include annual appropriations into non-budgeted (“off-budget”) trusts. The transfer of funds from the General Fund or another budgeted fund into a non-budgeted trust is a form of appropriation, and should be treated as any other appropriation. Prior to FY 2011, the budget authorized these transfers in Outside Section budget language. Starting in FY 2011, a new section of the budget, Section 2E, systematically accounted for the transfer of funds into off-budgeted trusts. MassBudget’s totals include these operating transfers in all budget years.
  • When spending that is now included in the budget was previously “off-budget,” MassBudget’s totals include the prior years’ “off-budget” spending totals in order to reflect more accurate year-to-year comparisons. For example, funding directed to health care providers as partial reimbursement for uncompensated care was previously funded by a transfer of federal revenue directly into the off-budget Uncompensated Care Trust Fund. This spending was brought on-budget in FY 2009, and incorporated into the state’s budgeted health care appropriations. MassBudget health care budget totals include the off-budget spending for these services in order to reflect a more accurate across-year comparison.
  • MassBudget reduces State Employee Health Insurance totals to exclude spending on health insurance for municipal employees and retired teachers for which the state is fully-reimbursed by municipal government.
  • MassBudget reduces funding for the community colleges, state universities, and University of Massachusetts campuses by the amount of tuition that these campuses remit to the state treasury each year. These adjusted totals more accurately reflect the “net” appropriations available to the campuses to support operations, and allow for more consistent comparisons across the years, since the policies about tuition remission have varied from year to year and from campus to campus. For example, until FY 2003, all the University of Massachusetts (UMass) campuses were required to remit to the state treasury all tuition from all students. From FY 2004 – FY 2011, UMass Amherst (alone) remitted only in-state tuition, and retained tuition from out-of-state students. Starting in FY 2012, the remaining UMass campuses were also allowed to retain tuition from out-of-state students. Starting in FY 2017, UMass will retain all tuition revenue, remitting none. The MassBudget adjustments make it possible to make meaningful comparisons of appropriations to these campuses even with these policy changes.
  • MassBudget’s totals include funding paid for out of anticipated reversions, which are budgeted amounts unspent at the end of the year. For example, a portion of funding for health care for retired state employees has in some years come from anticipated reversions of funds.
  • MassBudget’s totals reflect legislatively-approved “prior appropriation continued” (PAC) amounts. In most instances, MassBudget shifts the PAC amount from the year in which the funding was first appropriated into the year in which the Administration expects to spend the totals.
  • Budget proposals often include proposals to shift funding from one line item to another. To the extent the data allow, MassBudget adjusts appropriation totals to allow for better across-year comparisons by shifting the proposed transferred amounts back into the prior year’s funding structure.