- Table of Contents
- Environment & Recreation
- Health Care
- Human Services
- Infrastructure, Housing & Economic Development
- Law & Public Safety
- Local Aid
When the Senate finished debating its budget last Friday, it brought an end to the first phase of the budget processthe phase where the Governor, the House, and the Senate each produce their own separate proposal. The challenge of the next phase is to reconcile these very different proposals and produce a single budget for the state as a whole.
This Budget Monitor describes the chief differences between the Senate and House proposals, in preparation for the House-Senate Conference Committee that will be tasked with reconciling these differences. It also analyzes the many amendments that the full Senate adopted during debate of the Senate Ways and Means Committee proposal.
The basic contours of the Senate budget were left mostly unchanged by the amendment process. In order to fill a budget gap of roughly $1.3 billion, the Senate proposal relies on roughly equal amounts of temporary revenue and cuts & savings. This is generally consistent with the House proposal, though the House uses somewhat more temporary revenue.
Neither the Senate nor the House budget includes new taxes. This means that the Governor's proposals to increase the cigarette tax and end the sales tax exemption for candy and soda will not be taken up by the Conference Committee. It also means there will be no revenue from new taxes in the final budget.
All across the budget there are significant differences between the House and Senate budgets that the Conference Committee will need to reconcile.
- K-12 Education: The Senate includes a provision to distribute money to a targeted group of non-wealthy school districts, making its Chapter 70 funding $16 million higher than the House. In addition, it provides $21 million more for the reimbursement of very high-needs special education students.
- Health Care: In MassHealth alone, there are significant differences in funding and policy. On the funding side, the Senate proposed a much more aggressive target for cuts and savings. In terms of policy changes, though, it also introduced a series of new proposals, including for dental services.
- Law & Public Safety: The Senate provides $20 million more to support Law & Public Safety than does the House, including additional money for police training and youth violence prevention.
The sections that follow analyze these issues in greater detail, along with many of the other challenges the House-Senate Conference Committee will face in its efforts to produce a single budget that can pass both houses.
In addition, each section discusses the relevant amendments which were adopted during Senate debate. Among the most significant are a $3.7 million increase for Homelessness Assistance and affordable housing programs, $5 million for the Community Preservation Act, and $20 million to provide raises for workers who care for the disabled, the elderly, and children.
Breakdown by Category
The table below shows how the Senate Budget compares to other recent budgets and budget proposals, including the 2012 budget and the initial budget for FY 2009. In this analysis, we have adjusted the numbers where relevant to allow for more accurate comparisons among the budget proposals from the House and Senate. The House had included the costs of collective bargaining agreements for state workers in special reserve (temporary holding) accounts, whereas the Senate included those costs in the various line items from which the affected workers would be paid. To allow for a more accurate comparison of the proposals, we go back and allocate the reserve totals in the House numbers to match the Senate budget structure. As a result, some of the totals for some subcategories in the House budget proposals are higher in this Budget Monitor than in our earlier Monitors, and the totals associated with those collective bargaining reserve accounts (usually included in the "Other Administrative" subcategory total) are less.
Note: The FY 2012 Current total includes funding in the GAA plus any supplemental budgets passed during the year. The FY 2013 budgets include adjustments to allow for accurate comparisons among the proposals and for year-to-year comparisons. All numbers use the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) to adjust for inflation.
* In order to make an accurate comparison across fiscal years, this total includes an adjustment to account for the increased use of the Group Insurance Commission by municipalities for their employees' health benefits.
Driven mostly by the Senate's Chapter 70 and Special Education Circuit Breaker proposals, the Senate Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 budget proposal is somewhat higher than the House proposal. The Senate proposal is 4.4 percent higher than current FY 2012 funding levels, which would help offset a portion of cuts to education programs since the beginning of the state fiscal crisis in FY 2009.
During floor debate, the Senate increased funding for seventeen education accounts, summarized in the table below.
Early Education & Care
During floor debate the Senate did not alter any Senate Ways & Means (SWM) funding levels for programs within early education and care. Although there are differences between the Senate and House proposals, the differences do not comprise large dollar amounts.
The difference between the House and the Senate proposals is just $1.2 million with the House proposal being slightly higher. These programs have been cut dramatically over recent years. The Senate proposal represents a cut of 21.0 percent when compared to FY 2009 GAA inflation-adjusted funding levels.
In FY 2012, 87.4 percent of early education and care funding went to three child care line items. Taken together, the Senate proposal for them is $9.3 million lower than the current FY 2012 budget and just $1.2 million (0.3 percent) lower than the House's FY 2013 proposal. Compared to the House the Senate proposal is lower for Supportive Child Care ($719,000) and income eligible child care access ($500,000). TANF Related Child Care is level with the House proposal. For a more detailed description of these line items, see http://www.massbudget.org/report_window.php?loc=budget_monitor_swm_fy13.html§ion=2
Entry for new income eligible child care access families has been closed for most of FY 2012 and both the Senate and House proposals would continue to exclude new families for FY 2013. EEC is projecting a small surplus in this account for FY 2012 which would be used for siblings of children already receiving a subsidy. In April 2012 the number of families on the waitlist for child care access exceeded 36,000 with an 11.8% increase from March to April alone. Although the state is projecting a reduction in caseload for TANF-related child care, EEC projects that the $125.5 million appropriation proposed by the Senate, House and Governor will be insufficient in FY 2013. DCF no longer counts the number of children waiting for supportive child care, but in FY 2010 the waitlist averaged around 1,000 children.
A few line items have significant percentage differences between the Senate and House, but since they are small do not account for large dollar differences. These include proposals for Reach Out and Read, Access Management and Dept. of Early Ed & Care Admin. (See line item table below for details)
K-12: Chapter 70 Aid
With one technical amendment adding a very small amount of funding to Chapter 70 education aid, the final Senate proposal remains $16.5 million above the House proposal. This difference will have to be reconciled by the conference committee.
During floor debate, the Senate did amend an existing section of the Chapter 70 law that calls for a foundation budget review commission to review the state's approach to calculating district foundation budgets. The Senate revises some of the language identifying specific topics of investigation and calls for commission recommendations to be filed no later than June 30, 2013 and again every four years after that. Additionally, revised language directs the commission to conduct at least four public hearings prior to issuing its recommendations. The House budget did not amend any of this existing language, so Senate changes will have to be negotiated by the conference committee.
To understand the difference between the House and Senate Chapter 70 proposals it is useful to review the full sequence of FY 2013 Chapter 70 proposals, starting with the Governor's, since each subsequent proposal has built on top of previous ones:
- The Governor's Chapter 70 proposal, which began the state budget process, roughly funded the formula outlined in state law, using updated enrollment, inflation, and municipal revenue growth factor measures, helping school districts keep up with the rising cost of providing baseline services.1 The Governor's proposal also partially phased in one of the reforms planned as part of the FY 2007 budgetreducing by 15 percent the gap for districts whose preliminary contribution is above their target.2 Ultimately, the Governor's Chapter 70 proposal reflected a $145.3 million increase over FY 2012.
- The House budget then built onto the Governor's proposal by adding a provision that guaranteed each school district a minimum $40 per pupil increase over their FY 2012 aid allocation. Since this provision was an add-on to the Governor's proposal, it had the effect of adding another $18.5 million to Chapter 70 on top of the Governor's initial $145.3 million increase proposal. This House provision had a regressive distributional effect, since the additional $18.5 million was predominantly targeted to wealthier districts. Please see our FY 2013 House Budget Monitor for more details.
- The Senate proposal then took the House proposal one step further. In addition to including the $40 per pupil minimum, it added a final provision directing aid to a large subset of communities whose actual aid is below their target aid.
Specifically, the Senate proposal distributed money to communities whose Chapter 70 aid allocation is below their "target aid percentage."3 The Senate budget distributed this money only to those districts whose Combined Effort Yield (a uniform measure of local property wealth and incomes available to fund K-12 education) as a percent of their foundation budgets is less than or equal to 107.5. In total, the target aid and $40 per pupil minimum provisions together raise Chapter 70 aid $35.0 million above the Governor's proposal. Like the House's increase over the Governor's proposal, the Senates increase proposal has a somewhat regressive distributional effect, although exempting the wealthiest districts from its target aid provision helped make it less regressive than it otherwise would have been. Additionally, the Senate provision relating to target aid does have the virtue of further advancing a subset of policy reforms planned through the 2007 budget. The $40 per pupil minimum provision, by contrast, distributes additional aid without considering local need or capacity. Please see our FY 2013 SWM Budget Monitor for more details.
In summary, both the House and Senate budgets funded the Chapter 70 formula outlined in state law, using updated enrollment, inflation, and municipal revenue growth factor measures, helping school districts keep up with the rising cost of providing baseline services. Furthermore they both included a $40 per pupil minimum increase provision. What remains to be reconciled in conference is inclusion of the Senate's additional target aid proposal.
K-12: Non-Chapter 70 Aid
During floor debate, the Senate added small amounts of funding for seven K-12 education grant programs for a total increase of $5.5 million. For more detail, please see the table summarizing Senate floor changes at the beginning of this section.
Most K-12 education grant programs are funded at slightly different levels in the Senate and House budgets and each of these differences will have to be reconciled in conference committee. By far the two largest differences are between proposals for the Special Education Circuit Breaker and Homeless Student Transportation. The Senate's circuit breaker proposal, which is $20.6 million above the House's, would enable the state to reimburse school districts at close to the full 75 percent statutory reimbursement rate (of costs above four times the state foundation budget per pupil) for the first time since FY 2008. It should be noted that the Senate's increase in circuit breaker funding is coupled with outside section language that freezes the annual inflationary increase made for tuition payments to private SPED schools.
Homeless Student Transportation is funded by the House budget at $11.3 million and is not funded at all in the Senate budget. Federal law provides that homeless students living in temporary housing outside of a city or town where the family lived prior to becoming homeless may choose to remain enrolled in the school district of origin. The federal law requires that transportation be provided so that students can continue attending the school district of origin, and under the House proposal, this new line item would help reimburse host and sending school districts for these transportation-related costs.
K-12: School Building
Both the Senate and House budgets project a contribution to the School Modernization and Reconstruction Trust (SMART) of $689.4 million, so this funding amount is not up for negotiation during the conference committee. Each year the Commonwealth is required to contribute to this trust an amount equal to one out of every 6.25 cents brought in through the state sales tax.
During floor debate, the Senate increased funding by relatively small amounts for nine higher education-related accounts. Only two of these changes amended campus appropriations. UMass was increased by $50,000, with an earmark directing all of this increase to fund specific breast cancer research programs. Framingham State University was increased by $200,000, with an earmark directing all of this increase to the Christa McAuliffe Challenger Learning Center. For more detail, please see the table summarizing Senate floor changes at the beginning of this section.
The Senate did propose two significant policy changes that are not included in the House budget. The Senate budget would allow UMass campuses and State Universities the option of retaining in-state tuition starting July 1, 2013, rather than continuing to remit that tuition revenue back to the state. Additionally, the Senate directs the Board of Higher Education (BHE) to develop a plan for setting student fees at community colleges. Campuses have used fee increases as a tool for offsetting revenue lost by state budget cuts, and this proposal would give the BHE greater power to limit this practice.
Funding proposals for the three different types of public higher education campuses are very similar in the House and Senate budgets, as reflected in the table below. The House and Senate budgets include about $43 million in collective bargaining accounts that cover labor costs at each of the campuses. While this spending shows up in separate reserve accounts, MassBudget builds these dollars into campus totals below in order to reflect more accurately the level of state budget resources being used to run these campuses ($5.7 million for line item 1599-4419 goes towards a bargaining unit covering both state universities and community colleges and cannot be broken out across these two types of campuses).4 Except for these collective bargaining increases, higher education campuses are all close to level-funded from current FY 2012 levels. The table below summarizes funding totals for each of these campus types.
While total funding for higher education would increase somewhat over FY 2012 under both the House and Senate budget proposals, they still represent inflation-adjusted cuts of around 13 percent from pre-recession levels (FY 2009 GAA). Cuts are even deeper when looked at over the last decade, with FY 2013 funding proposals representing around a 30 percent cut from FY 2001.
The Senate and House proposals for community colleges are very similar, yet they differ somewhat from the Governor's proposal both in terms of overall funding levels and in terms of policy reforms advanced through the budget. The Governor proposed significant changes to the state's community college system, centralizing budget and leadership control over community colleges within the Board of Higher Education (BHE) and providing an additional $10.4 million in funds for FY 2013. Both the House and Senate proposals do, however, establish special commissions to study community college funding under the existing separate line item structure, with the goal of integrating workforce development goals and performance metrics. The Governor also proposed development of a new funding formula, but charged the Commissioner of Higher Education with doing this work.
While the Senate and House budgets do not replicate the Governor's full governance consolidations, they do include language in outside sections that is similar in nature to the Governor's reform package. The Senate proposal expands the Board of Higher Education's role in selecting community college presidents, but does not give the BHE full authority to select presidents as the Governor's proposal did. The House and Senate proposals allow the BHE to remove presidents, but the Senate proposal sets a higher standard for removal, requiring a 2/3 vote rather than a simple majority.
Albeit in different ways, all three reform proposals call for community colleges to focus more specifically on job training and seek to standardize the system statewide, easing the process of transferring credits across campuses.
Finally, one difference between the House and Senate proposals regarding community college reform is that the Senate couples its governance reforms with funding for some new programs to help advance these reforms. These new programs include: a Degree Audit and Tracking System, a portion of which would fund the development of a standard core of course offerings to be honored for common credit across colleges and universities; Rapid Response Grants to enable community colleges to set up workforce training programs within three months of a request by local businesses; a High Demand Scholarship Program, targeted for Massachusetts residents attending state universities or community colleges working towards majors in in high-demand professions; and a new Office of Coordination, housed within the Board of Higher Education.
Please see the table below for more information on higher education line items, with differences between the Senate and House proposals listed. This table includes tuition retention adjustments for each of the campus line items, but separates out collective bargaining accounts.
Environment & Recreation
State funding for environment and recreation programs keeps our air and water clean, supports wildlife habitats and provides funding for parks, pools, beaches and parkways around Massachusetts. In its budget, the full Senate added $663,000 in funding to its Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 budget for Environment and Recreation programs for a total of $178.6 million. This level is $9.0 million more than the House budget.
Like the House, the Senate budget does not include the Governor's recommendation to expand the bottle bill to include non-carbonated drinks. The Governor's budget estimated this expansion would raise about $20.0 million, $5.5 million of which would support recycling and redemption centers around the state. Instead the Senate budget recommends spending $275,000 on these centers which is $100,000 less than the House budget. The Senate did pass an amendment requiring that the state create a commission to develop recommendations on ways to reduce the amount of solid waste going into landfills and to research the impact of expanding the bottle bill to include non-carbonated drinks. The Senate budget directs the Commission to report its findings to the Legislature no later than January 1, 2013.
The environment budget for the state supports programs that keep the state's air, water and land clean. This includes funding to clean hazardous waste sites, to support recycling and to pay for salaries and equipment for the state's environmental police force. The Senate provides $80.0 million for these programs which is slightly more than the amount recommended by the SWM Committee and is $5.9 million more than the House budget. Since the onset of the fiscal crisis, funding for environment programs have fallen by 16.5 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars. For a full description of the Senate environment budget please see the Monitor on the SWM budget available here. The Senate passed a number of amendments including:
- Adding $12,000 for the Integrated Pest Management program for a total of $64,000. The amendment directs the agriculture center at UMass Amherst to develop a plan to monitor and mitigate pests that are threatening crops. The Senate budget is $13,000 more than the House budget for pest management.
- Creating a Commission to study the feasibility of expanding the bottle bill to non-carbonated drinks (see discussion above.) The House budget does not include this Commission.
- Asking that the Department of Environmental Protection explore the feasibility of taking over the management of the federal Clean Water Act program that seeks to eliminate pollution run off. Massachusetts is one of a few states in the country where the Environmental Protection Agency currently oversees this program. The House budget does not include this directive.
In addition to the amendments noted above, the House and Senate Conference Committee will have to reconcile differences between the two budget recommendations for spending on environment programs including:
- The Senate included $2.5 million from increased permitting fees which it states is needed to meet costs associated with increases in inflation since 2004. These fees would allow the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to hire staff necessary to approve permits and assure compliance with environmental rules in a timely manner. This was not included in the budget passed by the House.
- The Senate provides $538,000 less in funding for hazardous waste cleanup than the $13.3 million recommended in the House budget.
- The Senate provides $350,000 for wastewater treatment on Cape Cod. The House did not include funding for this program in its budget.
Fish & Game
State fish and game efforts oversee Massachusetts fisheries, wildlife habitats and other natural sites in the state. Much of the funding that supports fish and game programs comes from the revenues the Department of Fish and Game receives through the sale of licenses for hunting, fishing, boating and other activities. During its floor debate the Senate added $526,000 in funding to the Fish and Game budget for total funding of $20.8 million. The Senate budget is $392,000 greater than the House budget.
Among the amendments adopted on the floor the Senate:
- Increased funding for wildlife habitat purchases by $500,000 to $1.5 million which is identical to the amount recommended in the House budget.
- Provided $26,000 more for the riverways protection program to reduce the growth of an invasive species in the marshes near Gloucester and the New Hampshire border. The Senate level is $25,000 more than the amount recommended by the House.
- The Senate budget for fish and game is slightly higher than the House budget in a number of programs. Most notably the Senate provides $10.8 million to the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife which is $211,000 more than the House.
Parks & Recreation
The state's parks and recreation budget supports state parks, urban parks, beaches, pools and the employees who work at these facilities. It also funds parkways and dams managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). The Senate recommends spending $77.8 million on parks and recreation programs in FY 2013. The Senate budget is $2.7 million more than the House largely because the Senate allows the DCR to keep more of the revenue it raises than the House budget. Even with the slight increase in the Senate budget, funding for parks and recreation programs has fallen 28.4 percent since the onset of the state fiscal crisis.
The Senate adopted an amendment that provides $125,000 for the Metropolitan Beaches Commission. The Commission, created in the FY 2006 budget, will report to the Legislature no later than June 30, 2013 with recommendations on the maintenance, operation and infrastructure needs of the state-run beaches near Boston. The House budget does not include funding for this Commission.
In its budget the Senate, like the House, recommends merging all of the DCR retained revenue accounts into a single line item. The Senate provides this account with $11.0 million which is $4.1 million more than the House budget. While increasing the revenue that DCR can retain in order to hire more staff for beaches, pools and recreational facilities, the Senate budget offsets some of this increase by cutting state funding for parks by $1.3 million below the current FY 2012 budget to $40.9 million. The Senate level is $1.6 million less than the House budget.
During its three days of budget debate the Senate adopted over 30 amendments affecting health care programs in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 budget, adding a total of $21.4 million to the FY 2013 budget, along with new policy provisions. Even with these additions health funding levels in the Senate budget remain $67.8 million lower than in the House, due largely to the Senate's assumptions concerning Medicaid savings strategies, as well as its plan to make funding for nursing home rate supplements contingent on the availability of year-end surplus tax revenue in FY 2012. The Senate also delays the use of about $27.7 million in tobacco settlement revenue for retiree health costs. Lower totals in these areas are partly balanced by the Senate's overall higher funding level for public health programs, which is $11.9 million higher than what the House proposed. In addition to these differences, there are numerous other disparities between the two budgets. This section provides a detailed look at the funding and policy differences the Conference Committee will need to resolve in order to produce a final spending plan for FY 2013.
MassHealth (Medicaid) & Health Reform
During budget debate the Senate adopted amendments that increased proposed FY 2013 funding for MassHealth and health reform programs in three areas. Senators also added a variety of policy provisions affecting MassHealth and the Commonwealth Care Trust Fundwhich together provide health coverage for around 1.5 million people in Massachusettsas well the state's Health Care Connector, which operates the Commonwealth Care program and helps small businesses and individuals purchase health insurance.
Amendments that affect funding levels include:
- A change to the existing restrictions on MassHealth and Commonwealth Care coverage for adult dental services that would allow coverage for a limited set of services, and corresponding increases of $6.0 million in the MassHealth Fee-for-Service line item and $1.2 million in the Commonwealth Care Trust Fund (CCTF) transfer amount. The Division of Health Care Finance and Policy (DHCFP) would also be required to study the cost and frequency of emergency room utilization for dental conditions and to develop a procedure code for emergency dental services.
- An increase to the earmark for Infrastructure and Capacity Building Grants within the managed care line item (4000-0500) from $15.0 million to $20.0 million (the same level as the House provided), and the addition of $3.0 million for similar grants for "critical access community hospitals," along with a commensurate increase of $8.0 million to the line item.
In addition to these funding increases, the Senate also approved an amendment that would require that surplus FY 2012 tax revenues be used for a transfer of $27.2 million to the nursing home supplemental rates line item (4000-0640), along with an additional transfer of $2.8 million for a joint labor-management pay-for-performance program at nursing homes. Actual funding would be contingent on existence of a sufficient surplus.
Amendments adding policy provisions to the final Senate FY 2013 budget include:
- Language in the MassHealth administrative line item authorizing an Office of Health Equity and requiring the state to recognize telehealth remote patient monitoring provided by home health agencies as a service reimbursable by MassHealth.
- Language requiring the Office of Health and Human Services (HHS) to contract with a vendor for a study of MassHealth children with complex care needs, including an analysis of how these needs can be met by a medical home model.
- Language authorizing the Inspector General to spend funds from the Health Safety Net Trust Fund (which pays for care for the uninsured) to study and review the Medicaid program, including MassHealth eligibility requirements, utilization, claims administration and compliance with federal mandates.
- Language directing HHS to make efforts to automatically renew children in MassHealth, including the use of data from other public programs with eligibility requirements similar to MassHealth and use of pre-populated renewal forms; the state is also directed to study the use of continuous eligibility for children.
- Language amending state statute to require notice to consumers concerning the costs and benefits of Senior Care Organizations (SCOs) and the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) and other community-based long-term care programs.
- Creation of a Long-Term Services and Supports Advisory Committee to advise MassHealth, the legislature, and other agencies on ways to improve health and reduce costs through community-based long-term care services.
- Expansion of a state law that exempts assets of a nursing home resident from estate recovery if he or she has purchased long-term care insurance to include assets of people who have used part of the insurance to pay for community-based care.
- Changes to the Health Care Connector statute that would a) create a small group wellness incentive pilot program to subsidize 15 percent of the eligible employer costs, as determined by the Connector (language in the FY 2012 budget and in the House's proposed FY 2013 spending plan authorizes these expenditures on an annual basis); and b) allow the Connector to procure health insurance on behalf of other state agencies and programs (including MassHealth) and individuals.
- A statutory change requiring the Commonwealth Care program to provide an enhanced smoking cessation benefit.
After accounting for changes in appropriation levels made during debate, the final Senate FY 2013 budget proposes a total of $12.6 billion for MassHealth and health reform programs, $49.9 million lower than the total appropriation contained in the final House FY 2013 budget. The difference is largely the result of differences in funding for MassHealth programswhile both House and Senate budgets rely on a set of savings similar to those proposed by the Governor, the Senate Ways and Means (SWM) budget went further in proposing additional savings (see details in table below). During debate the Senate approved a few amendments that brought its final health care budget somewhat closer to the House, but also approved amendments that added both spending and policy initiatives the House budget does not include; the budget Conference Committee will need to resolve these differences. (For a fuller discussion of the Senate's savings proposals and similarities between the House and Senate budgets, see http://www.massbudget.org/report_window.php?loc=budget_monitor_swm_fy13.html and for a discussion of the administration's savings proposals see http://www.massmedicaid.org/~/media/MMPI/Files/FY2013H2_BudgetBrief_v7.pdf.)
Like the Governor, the House and Senate both propose FY 2013 funding totals for mental health programs that represent a slight increase over FY 2012 current spending, but that remain well below FY 2009 levels. During budget debate the Senate adopted one amendment that brought its budget closer to the House's funding proposal for a core mental health services account, but also approved funding and language changes that widened the distance between the two chambers concerning the future of Taunton State Hospital.
- The Senate adopted an amendment earmarking $1.5 million above FY 2012 funding levels for clubhouses within the main adult mental health services line item (5046-0000) and increasing the total appropriation by the same amount.
- Senators also voted (39-0) to approve an amendment that a) changed the in-patient mental health line item language to increase the number of beds to be maintained at Taunton State Hospital from 45, as initially proposed in the Senate Ways and Means (SWM) budget, to 72; b) increased the line item appropriation by $1.7 million to cover the cost of the beds; and c) amended budget language included in the initial SWM budget creating an advisory committee to study behavioral health services. The new language broadens the scope of the study, requires the advisory committee to hire a consultant to undertake the examination, and prohibits a reduction in beds at Taunton State Hospital until it is complete.
For the most part the Senate and House propose similar, although not identical, funding amounts for Department of Mental Health programs in FY 2013 (for more detailed descriptions of these proposals, see http://www.massbudget.org/report_window.php?loc=budget_monitor_swm_fy13.html). Key differences the budget Conference Committee will need to resolve are:
- The House provides $2.4 million more than the Senate for in-patient mental health facilities. However, the House appropriation is based on an assumption that Taunton State Hospital will close midway through FY 2013, while (as noted above) the Senate budget includes language maintaining 72 beds at Taunton until a comprehensive study of the state's behavioral health system has been completed, which will require a higher spending level. While the difference in funding level appears to be the result of differences in maintenance spending assumptions, the Conference Committee will need to decide whether (and how many) beds to maintain at Taunton, and to agree on the related costs.
- While both budgets contain outside sections creating entities (a Special Commission in the case of the House; an Advisory Committee in the case of the Senate) to study the mental health system, there are substantive differences between the two proposals (e.g., scope of study, use of an independent consultant to perform the analysis) that must be resolved.
- While there is only a slight difference in funding for the main adult mental health services line item the two budgets propose different earmark levels for clubhouses ($500,000 in the House and $1.5 million in the Senate).
- The Senate proposes a higher level of funding than does the House for the Forensic Services Program, which includes juvenile clinics and other court-based mental health services.
Programs that protect the health of the general public in Massachusetts by responding to public health emergencies, ensuring that health professionals are properly licensed, and promoting wellness and disease prevention activities have seen cuts in recent years. These programs will receive a modest increase in the Senate's proposed FY 2013 budget compared to FY 2012, including $3.1 million that was added during Senate floor debate:
- An earmark of $100,000 for a South Boston Leadership Initiative pilot program at the South Boston Community Health Center and a commensurate increase to the total health center appropriation.
- Increases for the Prescription Drug Monitoring and Dental Services programs.
- An increase of $1.0 million for Early Intervention services, and language requiring any surplus in the account to be used for one-time salary bonuses to direct care personnel employed by Early Intervention providers.
- A new line item (also included in the House budget) with an appropriation of $125,000 for Support Services for Homicide Victims and language earmarking the entire amount for the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
- Increases for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and Pediatric Palliative Care programs and for the State Laboratory.
The Senate also approved a number of amendments that do not change appropriation levels but have fiscal and policy implications. These include:
- Creation of a Healthcare Workforce Transformation Fund to be overseen by the Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development with the goal of enhancing worker skills and addressing workforce shortages (the Fund will incorporate a primary care provider loan forgiveness program, to be overseen by the Massachusetts Association of Community Health Centers). A separate amendment added language requiring the transfer of $20.0 million in any surplus FY 2012 tax revenue to the Fund.
- An earmark of $200,000 within the School Health Services line item for expenditures on the Massachusetts Model of Community Coalitions.
- Addition of language creating a Special Commission to advise the Department of Public Health on lactation and breastfeeding counseling and education of pregnant mothers, and how these activities can help contain health costs and enhance the health of women and children.
- Language that would allow Youth-at-Risk grants to go to "teen empowerment" programs, in addition to other youth programs.
- Changes to a section that codifies the use of an assessment on insurers to fund the Universal Vaccine program. The changes place limits on future increases to the assessment and require insurers to cover vaccines.
- Language (within the School Health line item) that would require DPH to "investigate requiring the installation of automatic external defibrillators in all public schools."
Total funding for public health programs in the Senate FY 2013 budget is $l1.9 million higher than in the House budget. Underlying this overall difference are numerous differences that the Conference Committee will need to resolve. Key topics include:
The Senate provides $8.0 million for a Youth Violence Prevention Grant program within the Department of Health and Human Services (first funded at $10.0 million in an FY 2012 supplemental budget), in contrast to the House, which did not fund the program. However the House increases funding for a DPH Youth Violence grant program by about $500,000 compared to FY 2012, while the Senate level funds this program. The Senate and House also differ significantly in funding for the Youth-at-Risk grant program.
Substance Abuse Services
The Senate budget contains language making changes to a separate Substance Abuse Services Fund that was created in 2011 with a $10.0 million transfer from the General Fund in order to implement an expansion of treatment facilities and case management for people with substance abuse disorders who have been civilly committed to mental health facilities; the House budget does not contain a similar provision. The Senate also provides funding for a jail diversion treatment program for people with substance abuse problems, which the House did not fund, and the two chambers differ somewhat on total funding for the main Substance Abuse Services line item.
Funding for Early Intervention services is $1.7 million higher in the Senate budget and, as noted above, the Senate approved amendment language that would dedicate any year-end surplus to one-time salary increases for direct care workers. The House budget does not include this language.
The Senate budget contains language (section 85) creating a Vaccine Purchase Trust Fund that will hold funds from a surcharge on insurers that will be set annually at a rate designed to provide sufficient funds to pay for the costs of vaccines for the state's universal immunization program for children. A similar surcharge has been imposed in recent years to pay for vaccines; the SWM language would codify it in state law, and would also create an advisory council to make recommendations on the purchase of vaccines. The House budget does not contain this provision.
The Senate budget provides $500,000 for an Academic Detailing program that encourages cost-effective prescribing practices among health providers who have patients in publicly funded health programs, and estimates these activities will result in savings of about $3 million within the MassHealth program. The House does not include an appropriation for this program, which was last included in the budget in FY 2009.
Finally, the Senate also provides higher funding levels for several small programs that affect children and adolescents, including School-based Health Services, Teen Pregnancy Prevention, and Pediatric Palliative Care (see line item table below for more detail).
State Employee Health Insurance
Funding for health insurance provided to current and retired state employees through the Group Insurance Commission (GIC) will drop slightly in FY 2013, even after taking into account the off-budget, one-time use of $40.0 million in surplus Federal trust funds that is not reflected in the table above. The decline in spending is largely the result of GIC efforts to hold down cost increases in recent years through a variety of strategies, such as encouraging state employees to choose health plans with limited networks.
During budget debate the Senate, like the House, adopted an amendment that increased funding for GIC premium and plan costs by $95.0 million. However, this entire increase will pay for the additional costs of covering municipal employees in cities and towns that have elected to join the GIC. Because these costs are fully reimbursed by the municipalities, and do not require the use of state resources, we remove them from our spending calculations.
While there are some small differences between the final House and Senate budgets (chiefly the result of updates in spending projections), the Conference Committee's main task will be to resolve a larger difference between the two spending plans that has to do with funding for the State Retiree Benefits Trust Fund (SRBTF). Under a provision included in the FY 2012 budget, the SRBTF will begin to receive a portion of revenue from the annual tobacco settlement payment made to the state in order to help fund future benefits promised to employees (in recent years tobacco settlement revenue has been deposited in the General Fund for use in the budget). In FY 2013 ten percent of the tobacco settlement payment, estimated at around $27.7 million, is scheduled to be deposited in the Fund. The House assumes this funding in its budget, while the Senate budget includes language suspending the transfer in FY 2013.
Human services programs form a crucial part of the Commonwealth's "safety net" for the state's most vulnerable residents. During floor debate, amendments adopted by the Senate added $23.5 million in additional funding to the Senate Ways & Means (SWM) FY 2013 proposal. The vast majority, $20.0 million, funds a salary reserve for employees of private human services providers who make less than $40,000. The final Senate FY 2013 proposal of $3.50 billion for human services is $1.6 million below the House FY 2013 proposal.
The $20.0 million reserve is the largest difference between the Senate and House in human services. The House did not fund a reserve. The reserve would provide wage increases to low wage workers caring for the disabled, elderly and children. In October 2011, a salary reserve was funded at $10.0 million that will give some human services workers one-time bonuses by the end of the FY 2012 fiscal year. However, these workers have not received publicly funded permanent wage increases since FY 2009. Funding for disability services are another major difference between the Senate and House. The House funds several programs serving those with developmental disabilities at a much higher level than the Senate. All differences between the two proposals, detailed in the discussion below, will need to be resolved in Conference Committee negotiations.
Children, Youth & Families
During floor debate the Senate altered only two SWM appropriations for programs within Children, Youth, and Families (including the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the Department of Youth Services (DYS)). Services for Children and Families receives $130,000 more in the Senate than in the SWM proposal, but still $1.5 million below the House. A new earmark for Julie's Family Learning Program of $130,000 makes up the entire difference between the Senate and SWM proposals. The Senate also includes earmarks, with no amounts specified, for Plymouth County Children's Advocacy Center, the Children's Advocacy Center of Bristol County and Children's Cove Cape and Islands Child Advocacy Center. All three were included in the House budget proposal.
Changes on the Senate floor also provided funding for an effort to eliminate the Department of Children and Families' (DCF) fair hearing back-log. The Senate earmarked $152,000 for additional staff in the fair hearing unit to assist in reducing the backlog of cases pending for over 180 days from the date a fair hearing is requested. This earmark makes up the difference between the SWM and the Senate's FY 2013 budget proposals for Dept. of Children & Families Admin. Fair hearings allow children and families to appeal a DCF decision regarding child placement or a finding of neglect or abuse. The House also included language on fair hearing back-logs, but provided no funding.
There are many programs for which the Senate and House proposals differ. The main difference between the two is DCF's Regional Administration line item. The House eliminated this line item in its budget proposal while the Senate provides $9.3 million, level with FY 2012 current spending, but $13.2 million (58.6 percent) below FY 2009 GAA inflation adjusted levels. Regional management funds contracts with nonprofit "lead agencies" across the state that help coordinate services. Proponents of lead agencies note the important coordination function they fill between DCF social workers, families and other professionals involved in a child's case. However, critics claim that lead agencies duplicate work done in the past by social workers and that funding should be spent on services instead of another layer of administration. The Dept. of Children & Families Admin. receives more funding in the Senate, $3.1 million higher than the House.
Line items receiving less funding in the Senate include Group Care at $196.1 million, $1.6 million less than the House's proposal, Social Workers at $166.9 million, $2.8 million below the House, and Residential Services for Committed Population at $101.7 million, $1.2 million below the House proposal. For more funding information about all programs which will need to be reconciled during Conference Committee, see the line item table below.
The Senate followed the House by proposing a commission to study and make recommendations concerning services for unaccompanied homeless youth age 22 and under. The focus will include, but not be limited to, an analysis of: the barriers to serving unaccompanied youth who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender; the barriers serving youth under age 18; and barriers to accurately counting the population of unaccompanied youth. Serving on the commission will be commissioners from multiple state agencies, members of the Senate and House, youth advocates, direct care workers, and three youth who have experienced homelessness. A report to the Governor will be due March 2013 outlining recommendations for better serving these youth.
During floor debate, the Senate made no funding changes to the SWM proposal for programs and services within the disability services category. The Disabled Persons Protection Commission (DPPC), which can be found in the "Other Administrative" section of the Budget Monitor, did receive a $64,000 increase to $2.3 million, $18,000 more than the House. The Mission of the DPPC is to protect adults with disabilities from the abusive acts or omissions of their caregivers through investigation oversight, public awareness and prevention.
The Senate did make two policy changes regulating the treatment of adults with disabilities. The first, Regulating Treatment of Disabled Persons, prohibits any procedure which causes obvious signs of physical pain to any person with a disability (child or adult). The second, Aversive Therapy Regulation Codification, prohibits any program operated through the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) from using Level III Aversive Interventions to reduce or eliminate maladaptive behaviors except in the case of a court-approved treatment plan. One other addition to the budget - The Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress was added as a possible earmark for DDS Administration funding.
The full Senate proposal remains $14.7 million lower than the House. Senate funding for developmentally disabled adults is likely insufficient to maintain current levels of services for the eligible population.
One major difference between the Senate and the House is funding for Respite Family Supports. The Senate proposes $41.0 million, $10.0 million below the House. Current FY 2012 spending of $46.5 million is in between these two proposals. The proposal from the Senate is $18.9 million (31.6 percent) below FY 2009 inflation adjusted levels and would likely mean that thousands of families of children and adults with disabilities would lose these supports. These services - for which there is already a high wait list - offer families with disabled children flexible community-based supports that are particularly important for helping keep children with disabilities out of residential schools.
Community Transportation Services for the Developmentally Disabled receives $10.5 million from the Senate, $3.1 million below the House. These services allow disabled adults to maintain employment and take part in community activities.
Overall, there are 16 line items that must be reconciled during the Conference Committee. Community Day and Work Program and Independent Living Assistance for the Multi-Disabled are given $356,000 and $1.4 million more in the Senate while Community Residential Supports for the Developmentally Disabled is given $2.2 million less than the House. Please view the line item table for funding details about all funding differences in line items.
During floor debate, the Senate added $1.6 million in funding to services for elders, bringing the total in the Senate budget to $221.0 million. This total is $2.3 million above FY 2011 current budgeted totals and $1.1 million less than recommended by the House. Two Senate increases, Elder Protective Services ($622,000) and the Elder Nutrition Program ($50,000) are now identical to the House. The senior farm share program was added as an earmark in elder nutrition with no set amount appropriated. Councils on Aging grants, increased $900,000 on the Senate floor, is $800,000 higher than the House proposal.
Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORC) which received funding through the Congregate Housing Program in the FY 2012 budget were guaranteed at least level funding in language added by the Senate. Overall funding for the congregate housing program did not receive an increase on the Senate floor and remains $107,000 above the House. The Senate proposal represents a 38.7 percent cut when compared to FY 2009 GAA inflation adjusted levels.
Enhanced Community Options (ECOP) has the largest dollar difference with the Senate proposing $46.5 million, $1.3 million (2.8 percent) below the House. The most significant debate in conference committee might surround Residential Placement Services for homeless elders which were eliminated by the Senate. These services, currently funded at $136,000 for FY 2012, were increased under the House proposal to $186,000.
The FY 2013 Senate budget proposal provides $775.9 million for Transitional Assistance, $11.5 million below the House proposal. During floor debate the Senate altered only one SWM appropriation for programs within Transitional Assistance. The Employment Services Program received a $50,000 increase on the Senate floor with an identical increase earmarked for programs operated through the Massachusetts Office of Refugees and Immigrants. Even with the increase this represents a cut of $25.7 million (86.6 percent) when compared to FY 2009 GAA inflation adjusted levels.
Another important change adopted on the Senate floor increases to 90 days the amount of time the Governor must give the legislature before cutting or making changes to Transitional Assistance for Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) and Emergency Aid to Elders, Disabled and Children (EAEDC) benefits. SWM proposed 30 days which might not provide the legislature adequate time to work with the Governor on other possible solutions. The current FY 2012 budget requires 90 days. Under Senate changes the Governor would also have to notify the joint committee on children, families and persons with disabilities along with the legislature.
The Senate continued the ongoing Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards debate making more changes to cash assistance policies. The Senate added a provision allowing the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) to make direct rent and utility payments if it is determined users are not using the grant in the best interests of a child or other chronic misuse of benefits is occurring. DTA may presume misuse if the costs of rent, heat, fuel, and utilities are not being met without reasonable cause. The Senate added language ensuring that EBT cards would be accepted at electronic fare vending machines for public transportation though the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority. The Senate also added fines for owners of liquor stores, casinos and adult-oriented entertainment venues who knowingly allow an electronic benefits transaction.
The Senate did not include some of the more controversial cash assistance restrictions outlined in the House. Products and services restricted by the House, but not by the Senate include performances, cosmetics, professional services, jewelry, and rental goods and property. The Senate also funded a new Public Benefits Fraud Unit within the state police department at $750,000. The unit is charged with investigating the illegal receipt and use of public benefits and is directed to work with the Attorney General and Auditor's Office, as well as other state and federal authorities as appropriate. The House did not include this unit in their proposal and both DTA and the state Auditor already investigate fraud.
The employment services program has the largest funding difference between the two proposals. The Senate proposed $4.0 million, $4.2 million below the House.
Funding levels for entitlement programs such as transitional assistance are significantly affected by anticipated caseload levels. These levels may have changed since the House proposal causing differences between the Senate and House which may not result in any debate. The Senate proposal for TAFDC grants, and for the other cash assistance programs assumes a slight drop in caseload in FY 2013. Grants are funded at $315.4 million, $7.5 million below the House. EAEDC is funded at $87.3 million, $1.0 million below the House.
Other Human Services
During floor debate the Senate added $21.6 million in funding to Other Human Services. The majority of that increase is the Senate proposal to include a $20.0 million human service salary reserve which the SWM did not fund.
Veterans programs and services were the beneficiaries of most of the other increases in this section on the Senate Floor. War Memorials, a new line item in the SWM budget received $115,000, an increase of $50,000 over the SWM introductory proposal. Funding for war memorials previously came out of the Department of Veterans' Services Administration line item. ($65,000 of the funding for War Memorials is included within the Department of Veterans' Services Administration line item for comparison to previous years) The Senate also added a new commission, the Massachusetts Veteran and War Memorials Commission, which will make recommendations on an equitable method for awarding funding for the upkeep and maintenance of veteran or war memorials. Assistance to Homeless Veterans and Veterans' Outreach Centers received increases of $115,000 and $99,000. For details on other veteran's programs receiving increases on the Senate Floor see the line item table below.
The Senate also added $1.0 million for Emergency Food Assistance. The Senate appropriation of $12.5 million is $500,000 below the House proposal. However, the House consolidated the Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Programline item #7051-0115into emergency food assistance. The Senate kept them separate and funded the temporary emergency food assistance program at $1.0 million. Taken together, the Senate proposal for both line items of $13.5 million is actually $500,000 more than the House appropriation. (In the table below, only the funds that the Senate specifically attributed to line item 2511-0105 are included) The need for this program has increased each year since the beginning of the recession and current funding levels do not address this growing demand for emergency food assistance.
The main difference between the House and Senate is the $20.0 million human service salary reserve which the House did not fund. Another notable difference is the Veteran's Pension Recovery . This program, funded by the Governor and the House at $96,500, is not funded by the Senate. Almost half of the line items in this category will need to be reconciled. For details on the difference, see the line item table below.
Infrastructure, Housing & Economic Development
During floor debate, the Senate increased funding by small amounts for eleven programs within the broad category of infrastructure, housing, and economic development. These differences will need to be reconciled during conference committee negotiations. For more detail, please see the table below.
During floor debate, the Senate increased funding by relatively small amounts for five economic development programs. Additionally, the Senate created one new program during floor debate, providing $1.0 million for a pilot precision manufacturing training program (line item 7002-0020). For more detail, please see the table summarizing Senate floor changes at the beginning of this section.
The two largest differences between the House and Senate proposals for economic development are for Summer Jobs for At-Risk Youth and the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism. The House funds the summer jobs program at $5.6 million above the Senate, and the Senate funds the office of travel and tourism at $4.2 million above the House. These differences will have to be reconciled during conference committee.
Like the House, the Senate's housing budget for FY 2013 restricts low-income homeless families' access to shelter while providing some increases in funding to help these families secure permanent housing. It is questionable, however, whether these housing resources, some of which are limited to 12 months of assistance, will be sufficient to help these families, many of whom earn very little income, to remain in housing over the long term.
During its debate on the FY 2013 budget the Senate increased funding for homelessness assistance and affordable housing programs by $3.7 million above the SWM budget to $369.5 million. The final Senate budget for housing programs is $4.6 million lower than the House budget. Below is a discussion of the amendments passed by the Senate and the differences between the House and Senate budgets that will be ironed out by the conference committee over the next several weeks. For a fuller discussion of Senate funding for housing programs please see MassBudget's Budget Monitor on the SWM budget available here.
Like the House, the Senate decreases access to and funding for Emergency Assistance (EA) shelter, while it increases housing assistance for low-income families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. While the Senate provides more in funding than the House for HomeBASE which helps low-income families remain in current housing or move to new housing, it provides lower levels of funding for both EA and some other housing support programs including the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) and the subsidies that the state provides to local housing authorities.
During its floor debate the Senate passed amendments to increase funding for a few housing programs. The amendments, along with a discussion of how the Senate level differs from the House amount, include:
- $2.5 million more for shelter and support to homeless individuals bringing the total to $40.5 million. The Senate's final budget for this program is $2.5 million more than the House final budget.
- $1.0 million more for MRVP to $42.0 million which is $4.0 million lower than the House final budget. The House budget requires that the new vouchers created with the increased funding help families move out of EA shelters, most notably hotels and motels, while the Senate budget does not include the same requirement. The House and Senate also have two different eligibility requirements. The House budget provides vouchers to renters living at or below 200 percent of poverty while the Senate budget requires that the program provide vouchers to families earning no more than 50 percent of area median income.
- $100,000 in funding for Individual Development Accounts (IDA). The new funding would be used to set up pilot programs at local community based organizations to create financial literacy and asset development programs for low-income earners. The House budget does not include funding for this program.
- $70,000 more for the Department of Housing and Economic Development (DHCD) to $7.0 million. The additional funding will provide $20,000 for tenant services provided by the W. Broadway Task Force in South Boston and $50,000 for a pilot program on Cape Cod that would reduce barriers to self-sufficiency among people receiving housing services through the department. The Senate budget for DHCD is $164,000 more than the House budget.
When they meet in Conference to finalize the Legislature's FY 2013 budget, the House and Senate will have to reconcile differences in a number of other housing programs besides the programs discussed above most notably in EA and housing supports for low-income families.
As noted above, the House and Senate's budgets both restrict access to and lower funding for the EA program which provides shelter to homeless families who are living at or below 115 percent of poverty. In its budget, the House provides $105.6 million in total for EA funding which includes a new account with $16.6 million to support families living in hotels and motels because the family shelters are full. The Senate budget does not include a separate account for hotels and motels and provides $96.7 million which is $8.9 million less than the total House budget. The House budget also limits a family's stay in EA shelter to 9 months, after which they will have to leave whether or not they have housing to move in to. The Senate does not include this same limit. During its floor debate Senate passed an amendment requiring that DHCD report to the Legislature on how many low-income homeless families will be denied access to EA shelters because of the stricter eligibility requirements adopted in the FY 2013 budget. As noted in detail in the SWM Monitor the Senate budget, like the House final budget, limits EA shelters to a particular population of low-income homeless families. Other families, who are currently eligible to stay in shelters while they look for permanent housing, can only receive services through HomeBASE or other housing support programs (see below). If these families, however, cannot find adequate housing they will not be able to stay in family shelters.
As the House and Senate budgets restrict access to EA, they increase funding for some housing support programs such as MRVP (as noted above) and others including:
- The Senate increases funding for RAFT by $8.5 million more than the current FY 2012 budget to $8.8 million which is the same level as the House budget. The Senate passed an amendment allowing RAFT to provide up to $6,000 in assistance during a 12 month period while the House provides up to $4,000 per year, per family. The Senate budget also requires that no less than 90 percent of RAFT funds go to very low-income families, while the House budget directs at least 65 percent of the funds be provided to these families.
- The Senate provides the HomeBASE program with $90.8 million which is $7.4 million more than the amount approved by the House. While the House budget allows families to receive up to $4,000 in assistance over a 12 month period, the Senate passed an amendment increasing the assistance to $6,000.
- The Senate level funds subsidies for public housing authorities at $62.5 million while the House provides $2.0 million more for a total of $64.5 million. In its budget, the House directs public housing authorities to repair family apartments with the funding in order to create more housing for homeless families currently living in shelters.
Prior to floor debate the Senate Ways & Means budget for transportation was almost identical to the House's, but floor amendments added funding to two accountsRegional Transit Authorities and the Massachusetts Transportation Trust Fundand these new differences will have to be reconciled during conference committee negotiations.
Commercial Regulatory Entities
Law & Public Safety
Law and public safety programs include funding for the court system and indigent defense, prosecutors, state prisons and county sheriffs departments, probation and parole functions, as well as the military division, fire safety services and various other safety inspection services.
During floor debate, the Senate added $8.6 million to the SWM total for law and public safety accounts, including increases for legal assistance, Shannon Grants, the Department of Corrections, and county sheriff's departments (see table, below). With these additions, the Senate FY 2013 budget provides a total of $2.38 billion for law and public safety programs and services. This amount is $20.1 million more than the House and $43.5 million or 1.9 percent above current FY 2012 funding levels. Given general year-to-year price inflation, this small increase likely represents a decline in real funding for these programs relative to FY 2012 levels.
The amount provided for law and public safety programs in the Senate FY 2013 budget falls $333.3 million or 12.3 percent below the total appropriated for these purposes in the FY 2009 General Appropriations Act (GAA, adjusted for inflation), the last budget enacted before the full fiscal effects of the Great Recession became apparent here in Massachusetts.
Among the notable elements of the Senate FY 2013 budget are the following:
- The Senate provides more funding than the House for Shannon Grants, but less than the Governor.
- The Senate provides more funding than the House for the Department of Corrections and related accounts.
- The Senate provides funding to train a new class of State Police Officers. The House does not.
- The Senate establishes a new Public Benefits Fraud Unit within the Department of State Police. The House does not.
Courts & Legal Assistance
The Courts and Legal Assistance subcategory includes accounts that fund the seven trial courts, the Supreme Court and the Appeals Court, and representation of indigent defendants.
On the floor, the Senate added a total of $595,000 to accounts funding the courts and legal assistance, bringing the total for these accounts to $626.1 million, an amount very close tothe House and to current FY 2012 funding levels.6 Given general year-to-year price inflation, this likely translates into a decline in real funding for these programs relative to FY 2012 levels. Relative to the FY 2009 GAA, the Senate total represents a 10.5 percent decline in inflation-adjusted funding.
The additions made by the Senate to this area of the budget all focus on programs providing legal assistance to low-income and other underserved population. They include the following:
- The Senate increased funding by $500,000 to $11.5 million for the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC). This total is $1 million above current FY 2012 levels, but less than the $12.0 million proposed by the House (and the Governor). MLAC provides low-income people with legal information, advice and representation on critical, non-criminal legal problems.
- The Senate added $80,000 for Massachusetts Correctional Legal Services (MCLS), bringing the total for that account to $982,000. MCLS provides civil legal services to people held in Massachusetts prisons and jails, particularly on matters relating to health and to prison/jail conditions.
- The Senate added $15,000 for the Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee (MHLAC), bringing the total for that account to $853,000. MHLAC provides civil legal services to children and adults with mental disabilities in cases involving discrimination and access to appropriate services.
Overall, while total funding for courts and legal assistance is very similar between the Senate and the House, the two chambers differ in some of the details. In matters of indigent defense, the Senate provides slightly more funding for private bar attorneys, and slightly less for public defenders than does the House. For the courts, the Senate provides more for individual courts and less for the Chief Justice of Administration and Management (CJAM) than does the House. The Senate appropriates a portion of its funding for the trial courts through two retained revenue accounts (0330-3333 and 0330-3334),7 unlike the House. The House, on the other hand, appropriates some trial court funding through two collective bargaining reserve accounts, an approach not taken by the Senate.
The Law Enforcement subcategory includes accounts funding the State Police, the State Police Crime Laboratory, the Chief Medical Examiner, the Criminal History Systems Board and Sex Offender Registry Board, as well as training for municipal officers and anti-gang and youth violence prevention programs.
On the floor, the Senate added $1.3 million to the SWM FY 2013 budget, resulting in a total of $345.5 million for law enforcement accounts, an amount 2.0 percent higher than the House and 5.9 percent higher than current FY 2012 funding levels.7 The Senate, however, provides $99.8 million or 22.4 percent less for law enforcement than was approved in the 2009 GAA (adjusted for inflation), the last budget enacted before the full fiscal effects of the Great Recession became apparent here in Massachusetts. Changes made on the floor were the following:
- In floor debate, the Senate added $1.0 million for Shannon Grants, bringing the Senate total for this program to $7.0 million, a drop from the $8.0 million in funding the program received in FY 2012, but more than the $5.5 million provided by the House. Shannon Grants help fund anti-gang and youth violence prevention efforts undertaken by law enforcement, community-based organizations, and government agencies in communities throughout the Commonwealth.
- In floor debate, the Senate added $250,000 for municipal police training, bringing the Senate total to $2.8 million. This amount is 11.3 percent above the House and 13.5 percent above current FY 2012 funding levels.
Apart from these floor changes, the Senate provides more for the Chief Medical Examiner than does the House, and less for the Department of State Police Operations (and related accounts). The Senate also funds training for a new class of State Police Officers, while the House does not. In addition, the Senate creates a new Public Benefits Fraud Unit within the Department of State Police, funding this initiative at $750,000, where the House does not. The unit is charged with investigating the illegal receipt and use of public benefits and is directed to work with the Attorney General and Auditor's Office, as well as other state and federal authorities as appropriate.
Prisons, Probation & Parole
The Prisons, Probations & Parole subcategory includes accounts funding the state prison system, the county jails and other county sheriffs' department functions, the Probation Department and the Parole Board.
In floor debate, the Senate added $6.0 million to prisons, probations and parole accounts, bringing the Senate total to $1.22 billion, an amount $8.2 million higher than the House. The Senate total represents an increase of $17.7 million or 1.5 percent from current FY 2012 funding levels.9 Given general year-to-year price inflation, this likely translates into a decline in real funding for these programs relative to FY 2012 levels. The Senate total for these programs is $142.7 million or 10.5 percent less than was provided in the FY 2009 GAA (adjusted for inflation), the last budget enacted before the full fiscal effects of the Great Recession became apparent here in Massachusetts.
The changes made on the floor include the following:
- The Senate increased its appropriation to the Department of Corrections (DOC) account by $2.0 million to $542.8 million. Accompanying changes to the line item language direct that this money shall be expended on cities and towns hosting a DOC facility.
- The Senate added $551,000 to the Bristol County Sheriff's federal inmate reimbursement retained revenue account, level-funding this account relative to the House.
- The Senate added $1.4 million to the Norfolk County Sheriff's federal inmate reimbursement retained revenue account, level-funding this account relative to the House.
- The Senate added $2.0 million to the Plymouth County Sheriff's federal inmate reimbursement retained revenue account, exceeding the amount provided by the House by $2.0 million.
Otherwise, the Senate provides one percent more than the House to each of the 14 County Sherriff's Department accounts for a total of $4.4 million more than the House. At the same time, the Senate provides $8.0 million less to the collective bargaining reserve accounts of the sheriffs. In addition, the Senate provides $11.9 million more than the House to the Department of Corrections and related accounts, while also providing slightly more ($393,000) for parole functions and slightly less ($551,000) for probation functions than the House.
The Prosecutors subcategory includes accounts funding the District Attorneys' offices and the investigative support they receive from the State Police, the Attorney General's office and the various special investigative units housed within the AG's office, as well as victim and witness assistance and protection programs.
On the floor, the Senate added $281,000 to the SWM FY 2013 budget, providing a total of $142.8 million for prosecutors, $2.9 million more than the House and $4.7 million or 3.4 percent more than current FY 2012 levels. This amount is $13.2 million or 8.5 percent les s than was appropriated in the FY 2009 GAA, the last budget enacted before the full fiscal effects of the Great Recession became apparent here in Massachusetts. Changes made on the floor were the following:
- The Senate added $262,000 to the Wage Enforcement Program, resulting in a total that is $327,000 higher than the House.
- The Senate added $19,000 to the Victim and Witness Protection Program, making the Senate total equal to that of the House an to current FY 2012 funding levels.
The majority of the higher Senate appropriation for prosecutors beyond the amount provided by the House results from larger appropriations to the District Attorneys' (DAs) offices. In the Senate's budget, most DAs receive an increase of 5.0 percent over current FY 2012 levels.
Other Law & Public Safety
This subcategory covers an array of departments and programs including the Executive Office of Public Safety; the Department of Fire Services; the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, elevator and boiler inspections; nuclear safety; and the state's Military Division.
In floor debate, the Senate added $505,000 to these accounts, providing a total of $44.0 million for these functions in FY 2013. This total is $1.6 million above the House and $793,000 1.8 percent above current FY2012 levels.10 Given general year-to-year price inflation, this likely translates into a decline in real funding for these programs relative to FY 2012 levels. The $44.0 million total for these programs represents an 8.4 percent decline relative to the FY 2009 GAA (adjusted for inflation), the last budget enacted before the full fiscal effects of the Great Recession became apparent here in Massachusetts.
The only changes made on the floor were the addition of $305,000 to the Military Division account, leaving the Senate $256,000 below the House, and the addition of $200,000 to the Department of Fire Services Administration to upgrade the emergency radio communications system in Plymouth County. Otherwise, the most notable elements of the Senate budget as regards Other Law & Public Safety programs are the following:
- The Senate provides $17.6 million or a 1.2 percent increase above current FY 2012 funding levels for Fire Fighting Services accounts, an amount that is $1.5 million higher than the House.
- The Senate provides $6.0 million for Elevator Inspections (through a retained revenue account), and amount $446,000 higher than the House.
8This total includes MassBudget adjustments to FY 2013 funding amounts (including for line items 1599-4204 and 8000-0106) to align with FY 2012 line item structures in order to make a proper apples-to-apples comparison between the two years.
10This total includes MassBudget adjustments to FY 2013 funding amounts (including a $200,000 addition to line item 0612-0105) to align with FY 2012 line item structures in order to make a proper apples-to-apples comparison between the two years.
The Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 Senate budget proposes to fund non-school local aid at levels just slightly higher than the House proposal. The vast majority of this funding supports general local aid to cities and towns, helping them fund vital local services such as police and fire protection, parks, and public works. General local aid has been cut dramatically over the last several years, and while the Senate proposal funds general local aid at levels slightly above the FY 2011 and current FY 2012 budgets, this would represent the third year in a row of not making inflation adjustments to fully adjust for the rising cost of providing local services. MassBudget treats education aid separately in our Education section, although cities and towns often use a portion of their general local aid to help fund education as well.
During floor debate, the Senate added $8.1 million to the following two local aid proposals in the Senate Ways & Means (SWM) budget, both of which are discussed later in the Other Local Aid section. The following table summarizes this floor activity.
Additionally, a total of four local aid accounts are funded at different levels in the Senate and House proposals and will need to be reconciled during the upcoming conference committee negotiations. The following table summarizes funding proposals for all local aid line items.
General Local Aid
With no relevant floor amendments, the final Senate proposal for Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) remains $1.0 million above the House proposal. The conference committee will have to reconcile this very small difference of 0.1 percent.
It should be noted that even if UGGA is funded at $900.0 million in FY 2013, this funding level is tantamount to a cut since no inflation adjustment would have been made over the last two years to keep up with rising costs. Furthermore, general local aid has been cut dramatically since FY 2001. For more information on the history of general local aid and for historical funding levels, please see MassBudget's recent paper Demystifying General Local Aid in Massachusetts, available here.
Other Local Aid
Two programsthe Community Preservation Act (CPA) and the Municipal Grants reserve accountwere amended during Senate floor debate, and final proposals for each of these programs under the House and Senate budgets reflect differences that require reconciliation during conference committee negotiations.
Through outside section language, the SWM budget proposed a few policy changes to the Community Preservation Act (CPA) that are similar to those proposed by the House, but it did not provide any new funding for the program. A floor amendment, however, provided $5.0 million of new general fund money to the Senate budget for the CPA. Currently, cities and town can opt into the program and pass a property tax surcharge of up to 3 percent. When the act was first passed, the state provided a 100 percent match to the revenue raised by cities and towns through the surcharge. As the economic crisis hit, and as more communities joined the CPA, the state's contribution has diminished considerably, down to 22 percent for FY 2012. State matching funds come from revenue raised through the deeds recording fees, and therefore show up off-budget.
The Senate's $5.0 million general fund contribution would supplement state funds coming in from the deeds recording fees, allowing the state to reimburse cities and towns at a higher rate. The House budget took a different approach to supplementing the CPA trust fund and these differences will have to be reconciled in conference. Instead of providing a direct appropriation, the House budget provided a provisional increase of up to $25.0 million in surplus state funds coming out of the FY 2012 budget, if sufficient surplus funds exist. While this contribution amount is higher than the Senate's proposal, the money is not guaranteed.
Policy changes proposed by the House and Senate are quite similar to each other. They provide more flexibility for how the open space portion of a community's CPA funds can be spent, allowing cities or towns to renovate existing recreational facilities rather than requiring them to use the funds only to purchase new open space. Allowing CPA money to be spent on recreational renovation projects may help more urban communities, with little passive open space, opt into the CPA for the first time. Additionally, both budgets allow for alternative municipal revenues to be used to supplement the current CPA property tax surcharge.
Additionally, during floor debate, the Senate added $3.1 million to the Municipal Grants reserve account, bringing this competitive grant program up to $10.1 million under the Senate proposal (see line item tables at the beginning of this section). This $3.1 million floor increase is combined with earmark language directing all of this new money to specific programs. The Senate and House differ both in terms of total funding for this account and in terms of where earmarks direct much of this funding. The Senate's entire $10.1 million proposal is divvied up among four separate earmarks, including:
- $4.0 million for regionalization and efficiency grants.
- $4.0 million for police staffing grants for medium to large sized cities and towns.
- $2.0 million for a pilot program to connect rural regions with state economic, housing, community, and business development programs.
- $90,000 for recreational and open space investments in central Massachusetts.
Of the House's $5.95 million proposal for this account, $3.95 million is claimed by earmarks, including:
- $2.0 million for the District Local Technical Assistance Fund to encourage regionalization efforts. This earmark language is similar to the Senate earmark language for regionalization and efficiency grants.
- $1.0 million for an unspecified competitive grant program to be administered by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
- $750,000 for a pilot regionalization program in Plymouth County.
- $200,000 for a matching grant program for the Fire Chiefs Association of Plymouth County to help improve the emergency radio communications system in Plymouth County.
The conference committee will have to reconcile total funding for this Municipal Grants line item and all of the earmark language described above.
MassBudget's Other category includes spending for the Governor's Office, the Department of Revenue, the Executive Office of Administration and Finance, the Legislature, Constitutional Officers such as the Attorney General and the Secretary of State as well as some independent agencies and commissions. The category provides funding information for Libraries, on payments the state makes for debt service and for pensions to public employees. The category also includes much of the state's one-time spending such as assistance to communities that may have been hit by ice storms, tornadoes or other natural disasters. It also funds reserves for collective bargaining agreements though when possible, MassBudget redistributes this funding into the accounts where it is expected to be spent.
This subcategory includes funding for the Secretary of State, the State Auditor, the Registries of Deeds as well as various other offices and commissions. The Senate budget provides $75.6 milion for constitutional offices which $50,000 less than the House. The Senate budget provides $5.9 milion more than the FY 2012 current budget largely because of increased funding needed for the 2012 primary and general elections. During its floor debate the Senate did not provide any additional funding to accounts within the constitutional officers subcategory.
The Debt Service subcategory includes accounts that fund the borrowing costs of the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth issues bonds to raise capital for investments in roads, bridges and other major infrastructure projects. Bondholders receive payment through the state's debt service accounts.
The Senate made no changes to debt service accounts during floor debate. The Senate's FY 2013 budget provides $2.42 billion for debt service lines items, $3.6 million less than the House and an increase of $160.5 million or 7.1 percent over current FY 2012 levels. The Senate increase for debt service over FY 2012 levels is driven by a $126.6 million (6.7 percent) increase in Consolidated Long-Term debt service to $2.01 billion, a doubling of Accelerated Bridge Program Debt Service to $50.7 million, and $19.8 million (23.0 percent) increase for Central Artery/Tunnel debt service to $106 million.
Executive & Legislative
During its budget debate the Senate did not increase funding for accounts within the Executive Office of the Governor and the Legislature. In its budget, the House provides $300,000 for the Office of Child Advocate which is $56,000 more than the Senate.
The state supports public libraries in Massachusetts through a number of programs. The two largest are the Public Libraries Local Aid account which provides direct state aid to local libraries and the Regional Libraries account which supports regional library networks including the inter-library loan and electronic references resources. The state also provides funding for the Talking Book program which is housed in the Perkins School for the Blind serving the eastern part of the Massachusetts and the Worcester Public Library in the western part of the state.
During its floor debate the Senate passed one amendment adding $100,000 to the Talking Book Program in Watertown for a total of $2.4 million bringing it in line with the House budget.
During conference the House and Senate will have to reconcile minor differences in their budget for Libraries. The most notable difference is that the Senate provides $9.1 million in aid for regional libraries which is $100,000 less than the House budget.
Annual pension funding is governed by state law (Chapter 32§22C of the Massachusetts General Laws), which requires an annual transfer to the state Pension Liability Fund and sets out a funding schedule that is periodically updated. The most recent update was contained in a section of the FY 2012 budget that extended the timeframe for paying down the state's pension liability to 2040 and set out a schedule of specific payments through FY 2017. In accordance with that schedule, both the House and Senate budgets for FY 2013 budget assume an off-budget transfer of 1.55 billion dollars to the Pension Liability Fund, and both budgets contain language specifying that the FY 2013 pension transfer is intended to cover the cost of providing retirees with a 3 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in FY 2013 (the COLA is calculated on a base of $13,000, meaning the maximum COLA increase will be $390).
During budget debate the Senate added a provision to the budget that would allow certain social workers employed by the Department of Children and Families to retire earlier with a full pension. The House budget contains an identical provision and there are no other pension-related issues for the Conference Committee to resolve.
The Other Administrative subcategory funds accounts that cover a wide range of government activities. This subcategory includes one-time funding to help communities recover from major storms or floods, provides funding for various state commissions as well as for the Department of Revenue (DOR) and the Executive Office of Administration and Finance (A&F).
During its floor debate the Senate adopted a number of amendments including:
- An additional $31,000 for the Office of the Inspector General for a total of $2.3 million which is the same as the amount included in the House budget.
- $200,000 to fund a new competitive grant program to help town halls comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The House does not include funding for this initiative in its budget.
- An additional $64,000 for the Disabled Persons Protection Commission for a total of $2.3 million which is $18,000 more than the House budget.
During its conference, the House and Senate will need to reconcile a number of differences before they approve a final budget to send to the Governor for his signature. Some of the more notable differences include:
- The Senate budget assumes up to $30.0 million in procurement savings not included in the House budget.
- The Senate provides $826,000 more in funding for state office buildings than the House budget. Both the House and Senate budgets consolidate funding for state offices buildings.
- The Senate increases funding for enforcement at DOR. While both the House and Senate provide an additional $4.0 million for DOR auditors above the current FY 2012 budget to $28.0 million, the Senate budget provides $2.0 million for a new account to pay for expert witnesses that DOR may hire to for tax disputes amounting to $1.0 million or more. The Senate budget also provides DOR with $3.4 million more than the House budget. The Senate estimates that these initiatives will increase revenue collections by $14.0 million in FY 2013 above the amounts estimated by the House. For more discussion of this effort please refer to the Revenue section of this Budget Monitor.
The House budget provided approximately $27.5 million in funding in reserve for collective bargaining agreements that the state negotiated with its workers. The Senate budget does not include funding in these reserve accounts but instead puts the funding directly into the accounts of the agencies where the funding will be spent. In order to provide apples to apples comparisons with the Senate budget, MassBudget has reallocated funding from the collective bargaining accounts in the House budget into the line items where they are expected to be spent.
During floor debate, the full Senate did not include any major revenue initiatives to its budget proposal. As a result of new revenue estimates, compared to the budget from the Senate Ways and Means Committee, the final Senate budget includes approximately $99.4 million in additional revenue: $27.1 million in additional federal revenues, $40.0 million in departmental fees and assessments and $32.4 million in anticipated transfers. Most of these increases are the result of new revenue estimates, such as a revision to lottery revenue estimates, as well as new estimates for federal revenues associated with Medicaid/MassHealth reimbursement. (This total does not include an increase of $95.0 million in revenue from municipal contributions to fully-fund increased municipal participation in the Group Insurance Commission. We also exclude that $95.0 million from the spending side in our discussion of State Employee Health Insurance.)
The Senate budget, like the budget from the House, does not follow the Governor's proposal to include revenues from new taxes on tobacco products or from removing the sales tax exemptions for candy and soda. The Senate budget also relies less on one-time revenue than the House budget proposal. Without any major revenue initiatives, the Senate budget is limited in its ability to support any major spending initiatives. One notable change, however, is that during floor debate, the Senate added language that would transfer $65.0 million from the FY 2012 consolidated net surplus into a variety of special trust funds. These funds would support investment in the life sciences, workforce development in the health care professions, and increased nursing home facility rates. The House budget only includes language transferring $15.0 million for investment in life sciences.
As shown in the chart below, when compared to the House budget proposal, the Senate budget uses approximately $130 million less in one-time revenues. The Senate budget assumes $89.1 million in new ongoing revenue (in other words, revenue that will continue beyond FY 2013), and $552.4 million in temporary revenue or one-time revenue. Temporary revenues are useful for balancing the budget only in the current fiscal year. The House budget, on the other hand, relies on $33.1 million in ongoing revenue, and $686.0 million in temporary revenue.
The Senate did not make any changes affecting tax revenue on during debate on their budget. Like the House and the Governor, the Senate FY 2013 budget relies on the consensus revenue estimate of $21.95 billion in tax revenue. The Senate also counts on three additional tax-related initiatives totaling $114.2 million, compared to tax initiatives totaling $68.2 million in the House budget. The Senate budget includes tax revenues realized with the improvement of the Department of Revenue's enforcement abilities (through use of more powerful data-review software). The Senate projects $36.3 million in revenue from these improvements, compared to $22.3 million in the House budget. The expectation is that with improved tax auditing and enforcement, the Department of Revenue will be able to bring in additional revenue for the Commonwealth that is owed but that currently goes uncollected. This represents a new and ongoing revenue stream for the state.
As distinct from the House budget, the Senate budget includes language in an outside section that would change how the Commonwealth would treat revenues from tax settlements. In past years, all tax settlement revenues went to the General Fund. Starting in FY 2012, a law directed that the proceeds from tax settlements above $10 million would be deposited into the Stabilization Fund (the "Rainy Day" fund). The Senate budget proposal lowers this threshold, and directs that revenue from one-time tax settlements exceeding $1 million be deposited in the Stabilization Fund. It also directs the Commonwealth to transfer up to $30 million of these revenues back into the General Fund at the end of the fiscal year. Accordingly, based on this language the Senate budget relies on $30 million in revenue from tax settlements, as well as an additional $2 million in retained revenues associated with the collection of these settlements. The House budget does not include this proposal.
Apart from the initiatives outlined above, the Senate proposes no other sources for new or enhanced tax revenues in its FY 2013 budget. To bring its budget into balance, the Senatelike the Houserelies on other non-tax revenues.
During floor debate, the full Senate incorporated new revenue estimates that would generate $194.4 million in additional non-tax revenues. Most of these increases represent new estimates for existing revenue sources, such as increased reimbursements from the federal government for the state's MassHealth program, and an increase estimate for lottery revenues. The Senate budget does, however, anticipate $20.8 million in new ongoing non-tax revenues, and $506.5 million in temporary non-tax revenues, coming from the Stabilization Fund, from agency revenue initiatives, and from other specific transfers..
Like the House, the Senate withdraws funding from the state's Stabilization Fund, and proposes transferring into the General Fund anticipated interest earned by the Stabilization Fund. The Senate transfers $290.0 million from the fund, while the House transfers $400.0 million, and the Senate anticipates $12.5 million in interest, while the House expects $9.1 million. Both the House and the Senate make a required $100.0 million deposit into the Stabilization Fund which is the estimated amount of FY 2013 capital gains revenues in excess of $1 billion.
The Senate budget relies on the use of unused $6.0 million from balances in existing trust funds to pay for FY 2013 costs. The House budget, on the other hand, counts on being able to "sweep" a total of $37.0 million in unused funds from various trusts.
Agency Revenue Initiatives
Unlike the House, the Senate budget proposal includes language that directs the Commonwealth's revenue from unclaimed checks into the Abandoned Property fund, resulting in an estimated $10.0 million in ongoing departmental revenue. The Senate budget also transfers $10.0 million from a separate off-budget trust into the Abandoned Property fund, a source of one-time revenue. All told, the Senate budget relies on approximately $20.0 million more in revenue from so-called abandoned property than the House budget.
Other One-time Savings
Unlike the House, the Senate budget also includes language that would suspend for FY 2013 the required transfer of funds from the Master Tobacco Settlement into the State Retiree Benefits Trust. In FY 2012, the Legislature passed a law stating that in FY 2013, 10 percent of the proceeds of the tobacco settlement (approximately $27.7 million) would be deposited in this trust to help fund benefits for retired state employees. By suspending this language for this fiscal year, the Senate "saves" the amount of this transfer. It is notable that during floor debate, the full Senate revised upward by $21.8 million its estimate for the total value of the Master Tobacco Settlement, thereby increasing the amount recognized as "savings" by this initiative.