Statement by Marie-Frances Rivera, President of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget), on the House Ways and Means Committee’s Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Proposal
Massachusetts remains in the midst of a health and economic crisis that the House Ways and Means (HWM) budget proposal does not fully address. The HWM Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget lacks a vision for how the Commonwealth plans to make sustainable investments over time after billions in COVID-19 federal relief runs out. The pandemic and recession have laid bare the inequalities that exist in our state, and this budget is not doing nearly enough to begin building racial and economic equity.
- It relies on a lower enrollment count, making its proposal $90 million short of what it would take to stay on track with the SOA. During the pandemic, we saw enrollment numbers plunge by about 32,000 students compared with the previous school year. Many of these students are likely to return in the fall.
- It puts $40 million into a reserve account that school districts have to apply for. This will create more work for school administrators who are already stretched thin as they respond to the pandemic. Depending on the criteria, this program could potentially disadvantage the schools — and the students — that need that funding most.
- In our early education and childcare system, one in six spots had not reopened as of early spring, compared to pre-pandemic times.
- Last month, more than 1 in 4 households with children had difficulty making ends meet.
- In December, 33,000 renters in Massachusetts had a rent debt average of $6,000.