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Statement on the Expired CDC Eviction Moratorium

Photo via Getty Images   Friend, Nobody deserves to wonder if one Supreme Court decision is the difference between keeping their family safely housed or becoming homeless. The Supreme Court’s recent decision lacks acknowledgment of the ongoing public health crisis and the role housing provides in ensuring our collective health and safety. Both the federal and state governments have an opportunity to do right by those in precarious housing situations right now. MassBudget’s recent release, Piecemeal Progress: An Exploration of Massachusetts Housing Investments, highlights the long-standing relationship between state and federal policies impacting the day-to-day lives and housing options people ...
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Federal Relief and Recovery Funding and Massachusetts’ Transportation Future

Unprecedented Needs and Opportunity Families and businesses rely on transportation systems like roads, sidewalks, buses, and trains for almost everything we do. These are the ways we get to work, to school, to the store, and how goods get to market. Transportation systems connect us to opportunity, save time and help Massachusetts achieve our commitment to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The COVID-19 pandemic has created new challenges for everyone, especially for people of color and those with lower incomes. While the pandemic has reduced travel for some, traffic has generally returned to unacceptable pre-COVID levels. U.S. News and World ...
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State charitable deduction, UI Trust Fund proposal will not benefit those most in need

 Statement regarding the Fiscal Year 2021 Supplemental Budget released Wed. August 18, 2021  “While Governor Baker’s FY 2021 close-out budget attempts to give tax filers and struggling businesses a boost, these poorly targeted efforts will not benefit those who most need the help. At a time of steep inequality, his proposal for a state charitable deduction would amount to a $300 million per year tax break mostly for those who make more than $1 million annually. If the state wants to help low- and moderate-income tax filers, it could increase the state’s EITC or offer this charitable deduction only to people who haven’t ...
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Piecemeal Progress: An Exploration of Massachusetts Housing Investments

There is a housing crisis in Massachusetts — pre-dating the pandemic and worsened by it. This paper explores the role the state budget plays in addressing the current housing crisis, and considers how the budget itself exacerbates the impacts of racist housing policies leaving thousands – particularly Black, Latinx and low-income households – with inadequate or unstable housing. The state budget lays out the Commonwealth’s values. A look at how the budget funds housing programs and initiatives can demonstrate the state’s priorities and help identify gaps to address the affordable housing crisis. In Massachusetts, the statewide approach to the current ...
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A History of Racist Federal Housing Policies

Image transcription: A History of Racist Federal Housing Policies La-Brina Almeida, Policy Analyst 1933 The Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) was established to assist homeowners who were in default on their mortgages and in foreclosure. HOLC created “Residential Security” maps, which documented how various professionals evaluated mortgage lending risk, systematically grading neighborhoods. The grading included (among other criteria) the economic class and employment status of residents, and the race/ethnicity of residents in the area. Neighborhoods were color-coded on maps ranging from green for “Best” to red for “Hazardous,” this came to be known as “redlining.” Redlining reinforced negative stereotypes about ...
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Testimony to the Joint Committee on Transportation in support of free public transit and discounted fares for low-income riders

To: Joint Committee on Transportation From: Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center Re: Legislation for fare-free public transit and discounted fares for low-income riders July 28, 2021 Thank you, Chairman Straus, Chairman Boncore, and members of the Committee for this opportunity to speak about important legislation before you. My name is Phineas Baxandall. I am a Senior Analyst for the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (or MassBudget). I speak in support of both free bus fares and free or discounted fares for low-income transit riders. These two approaches are mutually supportive and work well in tandem. As you know, the pandemic ...
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FY 2022 Recap: A Mixed Budget Season for the Commonwealth

It’s been a mixed budget season for Massachusetts in terms of state tax policy, unless the Legislature chooses to override the Governor’s veto. With the FY 22 Budget process almost at a close, it appears the final budget is likely to make our upside down and inadequate tax system worse in a number of important ways. Legislative overrides of several of the Governor’s vetoes, however, can correct some of these problems, while preserving hundreds of millions of dollars in progressive state revenue. Notably, the FY 22 Budget, however, also includes a set of changes that will provide modest though meaningful ...
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Using State Fiscal Recovery Funds: Sustainable, Equitable, and Community-Driven Planning

The passage of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and the availability of significant new federal revenue gives Massachusetts a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create building blocks for antiracist investments in the Commonwealth’s future. ARPA is sending billions of dollars to Massachusetts. About $23 billion is going straight to Massachusetts residents or businesses, in the form of expanded unemployment insurance, “stimulus checks”, the expanded child tax credit, subsidies for health insurance, and more. Of the remaining $17 billion, only a portion is up for grabs. Most of this money goes to specific grants, so how it can be used is already ...
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Statement on Governor Baker’s Sales Tax Holiday Proposal

“MassBudget holds a vision of an economically and racially just Commonwealth, one that is supported by fair and forward-thinking state tax and budget policy. Seen through that lens, the Governor’s proposal to suspend the state’s sales tax for August and September presents challenges. On the one hand, shifting our state tax system away from taxes like the sales tax, that fall most heavily on low-income households, makes good sense.  Unfortunately, spending the surplus this way forecloses  the ability to make investments that will transform opportunities for everyone in our Commonwealth – particularly for our low-income and BIPOC communities. For instance, ...
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Towards the Other Side: Past the Pandemic and Beyond to an Equitable Recovery

Massachusetts children and families are beginning to look forward to the other side of the health and economic crises of 2020. But moving beyond the events of this past year will not mean that we leave the impacts behind. For many, the year of disruption and loss will leave its mark, especially for children of color who have been hardest hit as the pandemic and economic disruption exposed and made worse long-standing racial and economic inequities. Fortunately, newly-available, one-time federal funds will help begin to repair the damage created by the pandemic, especially if they are well-targeted to the communities ...
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SUMMARY – The Cost of Universal, Affordable, High-Quality Early Care & Education Across Massachusetts

Massachusetts families depend on early care & education (ECE) to promote healthy child development and so parents can go to work knowing their children are safe. However, our ECE sector faces many systemic challenges. Care is often unaffordable and teachers are chronically underpaid. These concerns have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. High-quality ECE—including strong curriculum and supportive teaching in classrooms, professional development, small class sizes, well-compensated teachers, and full-time schedules—has been widely linked to positive benefits for kids that can carry forward into elementary school and beyond. This includes exemplary programs in Massachusetts. Existing public programs, such as Head ...
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Senate budget debate added millions for local projects and a few controversial proposals, but took no bold measures

If the Commonwealth is going to start building towards a bold economic recovery from the pandemic, the Legislature must ensure that the process is transparent and rooted in the perspectives of our impacted communities across the state. The Legislature will not achieve equity by refusing to live up to the moral charge of the state’s budget. In order to plan — and fund — an equitable recovery for our schools, our transportation systems, and communities hit hardest by the pandemic, the Conference Committee must choose bold, progressive solutions to build towards that reality. Overall, like the House, the Senate chose ...
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SWM budget gives boost to low-income caregivers, does not seize opportunity for bold investments

The Senate Ways and Means (SWM) Committee’s budget proposal for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 contains some bright spots but does not seize the opportunity — given better-than-expected revenues — to buoy the Massachusetts economy and communities still grappling with the effects of COVID. The SWM proposal is similar to the House Ways and Means (HWM) and House proposals, particularly in headline-grabbing areas like public school funding. It is not unusual for State House leaders to agree beforehand on some of the most potentially controversial items, like funding for K-12 schools, ahead of the debate. Last week, Senators filed amendments to ...
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Relief Is on the Way: Part II—On and Off

A lot of money has already come to Massachusetts from federal COVID relief legislation, and more is on the way. Will policymakers decide to spend this money where it is most needed? Will this be an opportunity to invest in the Black, brown, and low-income communities hardest hit and still affected by the pandemic? Who will have a say in that? Will those same people in the communities hardest hit have a voice? The state has already received more than $70 billion from five federal COVID relief bills. Over $20 billion more is now coming thanks to a sixth bill, ...
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Fim da Desvantagem Fiscal Contra o Trabalhador Imigrante

Os imigrantes de Massachusetts sofreram riscos desproporcionais trabalhando na linha de frente durante a pandemia. No entanto, milhares deles e suas famílias que trabalham e pagam impostos estão impedidos de receber um benefício importante por meio do Crédito Fiscal por Remuneração Recebida (EITC), porque não são elegíveis para receber um Número da Previdência Social (Social Security Number). Se o Estado de Massachusetts estendesse seu EITC para pessoas que pagam impostos com um Número de Identificação de Contribuinte Individual (ITIN), cerca de 13.200 famílias adicionais se inscreveriam e se beneficiariam do crédito. Para o orçamento do Estado de Massachusetts, o custo ...
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