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Analyzing the Legislature’s Budget for FY 2017

How did the Legislature balance the budget in the face of a sudden $750 million shortfall? The revenue decline did not all translate into budget cuts. This Budget Monitor outlines the budget-balancing measures and offers an analysis of each major section of the state budget with comparisons to Fiscal Year 2016 and historic funding levels. It describes both where lawmakers were able to preserve or build upon programs, and where programs were cut or eliminated.

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A First Look at the Legislative Budget

The budget enacted by the Legislature today represents both compromises between the House and Senate proposals, and new solutions to address the challenges caused by updated revenue estimates that project $750 million less in tax revenue than was previously anticipated. As a result, this budget funds most items at the lower of the House and Senate recommendations and a number of items below either the House or Senate recommendations. The budget also relies more on temporary budget-balancing solutions than the versions previously approved by the House and Senate: payments for some MassHealth costs will be shifted from FY 2017 to FY 2018; several accounts are funded significantly below the levels of known costs; and the budget counts on $100 million less in spending than the amount appropriated and that money being used to balance the budget rather than to build reserves. The budget will not make any deposit into the state’s Rainy Day Fund.
While the budget doesn’t make significant progress towards addressing the big challenges our Commonwealth faces, such as rebuilding our transportation infrastructure, making college affordable, or expanding access to high-quality education for all of our children, it does include some small new investments and initiatives. Listed below are descriptions of selected important items in the Legislature’s budget.

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

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.

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Analyzing the Senate Ways & Means Budget for FY 2017

The Senate Ways and Means Committee described a goal of making “investments to build resilient children, families, and communities.” That theme clearly informs the choices throughout their proposed budget, but without new revenues the budget recommends only very modest new investments. The Budget Monitor highlights recommendations in specific areas across the budget, offering comparisons to the proposals from the Governor and the House, as well as historic spending levels.

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Analyzing the House FY 2017 Budget

The House Budget changes the overall budget picture very little, but proposes a few significant changes for the next budget year. The House changed the bottom line of the budget proposed by the House Ways and Means Committee by less than one fifth of one percent. While many of the House changes were small earmarks for specific local projects, a number of the additions aim to address broader challenges.

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Analyzing the House Ways & Means Committee Budget for FY 2017

This Budget Monitor examines the House Ways and Means Committee’s state budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2017. The HWM proposal is similar overall to the Governor’s and the pattern of recent years. It is largely an austerity budget that reduces spending in some accounts, keeps most essentially at current levels, and contains only very modest new initiatives.

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Analyzing the Governor’s FY 2017 Budget

The Governor’s budget proposal for FY 2017 is best described as an austerity budget. It contains small cuts and spending reductions across government and includes few new initiatives. This Budget Monitor analyzes the budget compared to current spending levels and in the context of longer-term trends.

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A Preview of the FY 2017 Budget

This preview provides an overview of both the specific challenges facing the Commonwealth this year and troubling longer-term trends that state budget writers face in crafting a budget for FY 2017. We see that tax cuts of over $3 billion a year have undermined our capacity to make the investments in our people and communities that could make our economy more productive and our Commonwealth an even better place in which to live, work, and raise a family.

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How Do Business Taxes Here Compare to Other States?

This factsheet examines findings from the Council on State Taxation’s (COST) annual report examining the taxation of businesses in each state. The report accounts for all state and local taxes and finds that Massachusetts is a relatively low tax state for business.

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Analyzing the State Budget for FY 2016

With the House and Senate having overridden a number of the Governor’s vetoes the Fiscal Year 2016 (FY 2016) budget is now largely complete. This year’s budget makes few major changes in overall funding provided to educate our children, keep our communities safe, protect our most vulnerable, strengthen our economy and improve the quality of life in our communities. It does include an increase to the state’s earned income tax credit for lower wage workers and their families.

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