Every month, the MassHealth program (Massachusetts’ Medicaid program) provides health insurance for more than 1.8 million residents of the Commonwealth: children in low-income households; low-wage workers; elders in nursing homes; people with disabilities; and others with very low incomes who cannot afford insurance. This is more than one-quarter of the Commonwealth’s population, including close to half the state’s children. Not surprisingly, such a comprehensive program represents a large share of the state’s budget. But how much?
The Governor’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget proposal provides modest increases in funding for public education, human services, and several other important investments. This new funding does not, in many cases, reverse deep cuts imposed across the state budget after the tax cuts of the late 1990s and early 2000s — despite a decade of expansion in the economy. Lost revenue from tax cuts has limited the Commonwealth’s ability to adequately fund education, infrastructure, and other building blocks of healthy communities and a strong economy.
Anyone who has set foot in a public school, driven on a road, or gone to a public park has been touched by the state budget. What we fund in our state budget reflects what we deem important.
None of these essential services would be possible without the revenue to pay for it. Further, it is important to consider whether the state is raising revenue fairly.
As the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget debates kick off this week, here are five questions to consider.
How to collect enough revenue to pay for the things we accomplish together as a Commonwealth and how to collect that revenue fairly are questions that every community and every state need to examine. This paper describes 14 ways the Commonwealth could generate substantial new revenue in a manner that makes our tax system more progressive and would not require changing the state constitution.