“The FY 2022 Senate Committee proposal makes progress toward equity but does not seize the opportunity to make bold strides given our better-than-expected revenue collections and incoming federal funds. The proposal to make the state’s child and dependent tax deduction refundable is a major step in the right direction for tens of thousands of families. Our low-income parents and caretakers — some of whom cannot currently benefit from the current dependent deduction — could get some much-needed support.
The Committee budget falls short in a few ways:
- This proposal for K-12 school funding, like the House, is about $90 million behind what is needed to stay on track with the Student Opportunity Act;
- It does not include SUCCESS grants to community college students; and
- Unlike the House, this proposal holds back $3.5 million of operating assistance for regional transit authorities (RTAs) as performance grants, which makes it challenging for transit agencies to plan.
Our revenue collections are outperforming expectations and we will soon see an infusion of federal funds. With billions of dollars at stake, it is vital that state leaders make decisions on how to spend these federal funds in a participatory and transparent way. Now that the U.S. Treasury Department has released guidance on allowable uses of these funds, lawmakers should conduct a statewide public engagement process to ask impacted communities how the state should be spending this potential $4.5 billion coming from the American Rescue Plan (ARP).
Our FY 2022 budget should set the tone for an equitable and just recovery from the pandemic. This is not the time for the state to hold back on meaningful investments in our workforce, and our Black, Latinx, Indigenous, LGBTQIA, immigrant, and other communities that have been historically marginalized by the shortcomings of our policymaking. Making our communities whole — a moral charge of our budgets and elected officials — should be a top priority and this budget only takes a marginal step in this direction.”