Today the House released their $40.98 billion state budget proposal—this represents an increase of $83 million over Governor Baker’s original budget proposal.
Over the last several years revenues have consistently declined below their projected levels every spring. This has put some severe strains on our state budgets, added to our state's overall debt load, and even led to the downgrading of our bond rating last June. This year, however, we’ve seen a sizable increase due to the Trump tax reform law and legislative leaders seem very eager to spend that surplus.
The budget conveniently doesn’t include any broad-based tax increase, insulating legislators from the wrath of an election year.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo, claims the budget reflects living within the state's "fiscal realities” but we’re not so sure.
For the second year in a row, House leaders scrapped the Governor's attempt to find savings at MassHealth through shifting 140,000 able-bodied adults making over 100% of the federal poverty limit to comparable plans at the MassHealth Connector, despite the assurance that people who are transferred would receive zero-copay, and zero-premium coverage. In this budget, MassHealth makes up 41% of all spending.
According to the Mass Taxpayers Foundation, MassHealth debt service and pensions accounted for 55% of tax revenues in FY2007. That number jumped to 73% in FY2017.
As we speak, House members are furiously writing up their amendments to the budget that will likely add millions in pork projects and earmark spending to its bottom line.
We will keep you informed as the budget continues its way through the halls of Beacon Hill..
Have you seen the new movie Chappaquiddick that was released over the weekend?
It is an American drama film directed by John Curran and written by Taylor Allen and Andrew Logan. The film stars Jason Clarke as Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy and Kate Mara as Mary Jo Kopechne, with Ed Helms, Bruce Dern, Jim Gaffigan, Clancy Brown, and Olivia Thirlby in supporting roles. The plot details the 1969 Chappaquiddick incident in which Kennedy drove his car into Poucha Pond, killing Kopechne, as well as the Kennedy family's response.
The Chappaquiddick incident became national news that likely influenced Kennedy's decision not to campaign for President in 1972 and 1976, and it was said to have undermined his chances of ever becoming President.
We have seen it, and we think it’s something that all lawmakers at the Massachusetts State House would benefit greatly from seeing.
To help make this happen, the Fiscal Alliance Foundation and the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance will be sponsoring movie tickets for legislators. Just send us an email at [email protected] and we’ll make sure you get your ticket to this eye-opening film.
Sunshine Week is once again upon us!
Living in Massachusetts, we know firsthand how important openness and transparency is to good government. Our state has received an “F” rating for its lack of transparency from the Open State project. This comes on the heels of the legislature’s continued refusal to publish all committee votes and allow the public time to review bills before they vote on them.
Last year we caught up with Freshman State Senator Julian Cyr to ask him to explain why he cast his first vote as an elected senator for a pay raise for himself and others. His response was somewhat lacking.
This year, we’d like to bring your attention to a recent digital education campaign we launched regarding special interest-paid trips by state lawmakers. An expose by WCVB found that dozens of lawmakers had taken special interest-funded “junkets” to exotic locations such as Israel, Taiwan, Turkey, Saint Thomas, and the Azores.
Of particular note was Democratic State Senator Marc Pacheco of Taunton. Pacheco, who recently voted himself a 121% raise that hiked his yearly salary to over $154,000 a year, has taken 28 trips since 2014.
We made sure that Senator Pacheco’s constituents knew what he was up to.
Justice Louis Brandeis had it right when he told us that sunlight is the best disinfectant, and your team at MassFiscal will continue to ensure that plenty of sunlight shines on Beacon Hill, this week and beyond.