Massachusetts State Budget

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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.

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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.

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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.

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