We provide this press release issued by the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. Read Will’s comments on how the process unfolded here. For the full text of the bill as amended, click here
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 22, 2014
Senate Passes Fiscal Year 2015 Budget
BOSTON— The Senate today passed the Commonwealth’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget. This budget recommends $36.38 billion in spending, and builds on many of the priorities articulated in the Ways and Means budget released last week.
“This is a fiscally responsible budget which makes prudent long term spending decisions and invests in needed state services,” said Senator Stephen M. Brewer (D-Barre), Chair of the Committee on Ways and Means. “It makes investments in our cities and towns and in important services for our neediest citizens, while maintaining the fiscal responsibility that’s produced the highest bond rating in the history of the Commonwealth.”
“This budget makes thoughtful and smart investments that reflect the priorities of the Commonwealth,” said Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth). “We were able to strengthen our support for critical services and programs while still maintaining our state’s fiscal health. While we should always be looking for ways to expand and grow, we must always balance this with caution in our spending. I want to thank Senate Ways and Means Chairman Stephen Brewer, as well as all of the other members, for their hard work and contributions to produce a comprehensive final budget.”
The hallmark of this Senate budget continues to be many of the notable policy initiatives included in the Senate Ways and Means budget released last week:
- Fully funding the Special Education Circuit breaker for the 3rd year in a row
- 90% funding reimbursements for Regional School transportation costs
- $70M for the state’s low income housing voucher program
- $17.5M to expand access to early education for low income families
- $18M to support new substance abuse prevention and treatment programs; and
- $39M in new supports for child welfare.
Over the past few days, the Senate considered 948 amendments which have amplified and improved many of the themes included in the Senate Ways and Means Budget. Major floor actions include:
- $34M to support hospitals around the state
- $23.8M in rate reserves for child care, human service and elder service workers
- $16M in enhanced rates for nursing homes serving MassHealth clients
- $3.7M to enhance the state’s technology supporting the Prescription Monitoring Program
- $2.5M in new funding for the Shannon Grant program, for a total funding level of $9M
- $2.4M in funding increases for the Massachusetts Cultural Council; and
- $2.2M in new staff funding at the Department of Children and Families.
“It has been an absolute honor and pleasure working side by side with Senator Brewer as we have crafted his final budget here in the State House,” said Senator Jennifer L. Flanagan (D-Leominster), Vice Chair of the Committee on Ways and Means. “His counsel, wisdom and vision will be greatly missed. With that said, I’m extremely proud of this year’s budget. We complement the substance abuse treatment legislation passed in the Senate last week by funding important services to address the opiate crisis we are facing here in Massachusetts.”
“I was proud to work with my colleagues to create a responsible and accountable budget that continues to provide services through the Commonwealth,” said Senator Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett), Assistant Vice Chair of the Committee on Ways and Means. “The impact of this budget will be far reaching in providing much needed investments in the state and comprehensive services for its residents. I believe that we addressed the major issues our communities are facing in a major way.”
In addition to spending, the Senate also adopted a number of important policy initiatives:
- Tax amnesty provision that is expected to generate $35M in new revenue in FY 2015
- Expansion of the state’s “Bottle Bill” which devotes new ongoing revenue to the Community Preservation Act and the Brownfields Redevelopment Trust
- Reform and modernization of the state’s Agricultural Preservation Restriction program which enables the Commonwealth’s small and family farm owners to compete in an evolving economic landscape.
The budget will now go to a Conference Committee for reconciliation with the budget passed by the House of Representatives last month.