Massachusetts State Budget

WAMC

The cost of attending the University of Massachusetts will go up next year by hundreds of dollars. University officials approved contingency tuition and fee hikes today with the final increases to be determined once the Massachusetts state budget is finalized.

The University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees, meeting Wednesday on the flagship Amherst campus, voted to hike mandatory student charges by an average of 7 percent. The exact charges vary by campus.  The fee hike for undergraduates at UMass Amherst totals $913.

A two-year freeze on tuition and fees at the University of Massachusetts won’t be extended next year.  But exactly how much student costs will be going up is still to be determined.

A University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees committee, meeting in Boston Wednesday, recommended raising the tuition and mandatory curriculum fee by up to 5 percent.  The size of the increase will be determined by the amount of funding UMass receives in the state budget, according to UMass spokesman Robert Connolly.

An exterior view of the Massachusetts State House in Boston
wikipedia.org

Massachusetts House leaders have proposed a state budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1st. The budget crafted by House Democrats includes no new taxes or fees and does not differ dramatically from the budget filed a month ago by Republican Governor Charlie Baker.   WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill spoke with State Representative Stephen Kulik of Worthington, who is vice-chair of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker
WAMC

Massachusetts Governor-elect Charlie Baker will walk into his new office at the Statehouse next week and confront a sizable shortfall in the state budget.  The amount of the mid-fiscal year budget deficit is in dispute, and Baker’s options for closing it appear limited.

Baker, a former state budget chief in the Weld administration who stressed his ability to master the complexities of state government during his successful campaign, acknowledges the projected budget gap — whatever the size --- poses an early challenge in his first term.

Michael Widmer, a long time Beacon Hill fiscal watchdog will retire early next year. Widmer has run the business-backed Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation for 23 years.  The group recently issued a controversial analysis of the state’s budget deficit and an annual report on Massachusetts municipal finances.  WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill spoke with Widmer.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and legislative leaders are betting voters don’t repeal the state’s casino law.   Casino revenue was included in the 2015 state budget, but the impact of the decision appears to be more political than financial.

Gov. Patrick does not see it as much of a gamble to speculate on $73 million in projected casino revenue in a budget that totals $ 36.5 billion. The casino cash may never come if voters repeal the state’s casino law in November.

401(K)2013/Flickr

As college student loan debt continues to climb nationally, lawmakers in Massachusetts are proposing some ways to help.

A subcommittee of the  legislature’s Joint Committee on Higher Education approved a report this week that contains nine recommendations including trying to decrease the time it takes to earn a college degree, increase state aid, and require all Massachusetts high school students to take a financial literacy course.

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The Massachusetts House Ways and Means Committee released its proposed state budget this week. It calls for slightly less spending than the $32.6 million budget proposed by Governor Deval Patrick.   WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill spoke with State Representative Stephen Kulik of Worthington, who is vice-chair of the committee.

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Experts have told Massachusetts state budget writers to expect modest growth in tax collections next year as the state’s economy and employment continue to grow.  If the forecasts are correct it should mean enough funding for legislative priorities such as local aid and education without  need for tax increases.

Mass. Lawmakers Weigh Key Financial Matters

Jul 15, 2013

Lawmakers in Massachusetts face several key financial decisions this week.

The Legislature is expected to take up an amendment proposed by Gov. Deval Patrick to a transportation finance bill that would allow the state's gasoline tax to rise if tolls on the western portion of the Massachusetts Turnpike are taken down as scheduled in 2017.

Legislative leaders have said they oppose the amendment, while Patrick says he will veto the transportation bill unless the change is made.

Lawmakers Approve $34B Mass. Budget

Jul 2, 2013

A Massachusetts state budget is headed to Governor Deval Patrick's desk after lawmakers approved the $34 billion spending plan Monday afternoon.

The budget includes additional state aid for cities and towns and enough funding for the University of Massachusetts to avoid a tuition increase in the upcoming academic year.

The House voted 123-29 and the Senate 36-3 to accept the compromise spending plan worked out by a six-member conference committee over the past several weeks.

The  Massachusetts House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday approved a $33.8 billion state budget that boosts spending on higher education and local aid.

The proposed budget is $ 1 billion less than what Governor Deval Patrick recommended. Committee vice-chair  Democrat Stephen Kulik of Worthington says the only new taxes are the ones approved by the full house earlier this week for transportation.

Amid the uncertainty of the fiscal cliff and declining state revenues, this week Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick proposed a series of mid-year budget cuts to close a half-billion dollar gap in state funding. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard spoke to some that are concerned about the cuts.

Governor Patrick used his authority to propose emergency cuts in the state’s budget to close a $540 million gap in funding. And many are hoping that some of the governor’s planned cuts can be avoided.

WAMC

The Patrick Administration’s top budget official warns failure to avert the “fiscal cliff” in Washington will seriously harm the Massachusetts state budget.  WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports

If the country goes over the so-called “ fiscal cliff” Massachusetts could lose $300 million in tax revenue this fiscal year and $1 billion dollars next year. It would also cost the state $200 million in federal funding that helps pay for a variety of programs according to the Massachusetts Secretary of Administration and Finance Jay Gonzalez.