Baker signs $40B budget without health fee, vetoes $320M - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Baker signs $40B budget without health fee, vetoes $320M

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(Photo: Twitter/@MassGovernor) (Photo: Twitter/@MassGovernor)
BOSTON, MA (WGGB/WSHM/AP) -

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has vetoed $320 million in spending from the state budget and is asking lawmakers to take a fresh look at a package of cost-saving Medicaid reforms.

Baker on Monday signed the rest of the roughly $40 billion spending package. The state has been operating on an interim budget since July 1.

The governor didn't sign off on a budget provision calling for a new temporary assessment on Massachusetts employers to help offset rising costs for MassHealth, the state's Medicaid program. He's giving the Legislature 60 days to act on a broader set of changes.

The budget process has been complicated by a shortfall in tax collections. The administration projects revenue to be about $750 million less than what was projected when the governor filed his initial budget recommendations in January.

The Governor's office notes that some of the highlights of the budget include

Building Stronger and Safer Communities

  • An increase in Unrestricted Local Aid of $39.9 million, or 3.9%, to $1.062 billion
  • $6.8 million for Community Compact related programs, in which nearly 300 communities have joined since its inception in 2015
  • $6 million for Shannon Grants to support gang-prevention initiatives
  • $3.5 million for a new State Police division focused on homeland security, criminal intelligence, and counter-terrorism
  • $2.9 million for a new state police class of 145 recruits

Education

  • The highest-ever level for Chapter 70 education aid, $4.747 billion, an increase of $118.9 M (2.6%) over FY17 estimated spending
    • At least a $30 per pupil increase for all 322 operating districts
  • An increase of $25 million to be used as a down payment on the rising cost of health care for retirees
  • $38.5 million for Early Education Care rate increases

Mental Health

  • $60 million for a new clinical care contract for Bridgewater State Hospital
  • A $1.75 million increase for 45 additional Section 35 beds for men in MASAC Plymouth

Health and Human Services

  • A total of $185.3 million for substance misuse, not including MassHealth spending, an increase of over 50% since FY15
  • $23.1 million for the Department of Developmental Services “Turning 22” Program, a $5.6 million increase
  • A $9.8 million increase to support the annualization of 450 new hires at the Department of Children and Families

Veterans

  • A new $2,000 annual tax credit for companies with 100 or fewer employees that hire an unemployed veteran
  • An update to the $2,000 benefit for Gold Star Families to provide retroactive benefit payments

Workforce Skills and Housing

  • Learn to Earn - $1 million for a new initiative to provide employment and credentials for unemployed and underemployed individuals
  • A $9.1 million increase, to a total $92.7 million, for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program including new standards to allow families to keep their vouchers as they grow their income

Transportation

  • A transfer of $127 million in operating funds to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), which combined with $60 million in new capital funding in the administration’s FY18 Capital Investment Plan, totals $187 million in state support for the MBTA over and above the $1 billion sales tax transfer
  • A new law authorizing Pension Reserves Investment Management Board to manage the assets for MBTA retirees

You can CLICK HERE to see the FY18 budget documents and supplemental budget filing.

You can CLICK HERE to learn more about the FY18 budget.

Copyright 2017 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation) and the Associated Press.  All rights reserved.

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