United States: FY2017 Massachusetts Budget Update: The Conference Committee Budget

Just before the close of the fiscal year, the House and Senate reached an agreement on a $39.146 billion state budget for FY17. Due to a recently identified $750 million drop in projected state revenue, the budget, which was crafted by a conference committee led by Representative Brian Dempsey and Senator Karen Spilka, increases spending by just $650.3 million, or 1.7%, above FY16 levels. The plan spends less than the $39.5 billion budgets proposed by the House and Senate and the $39.6 billion budget proposed by Governor Charlie Baker in January.

The budget process was thrown into turmoil after estimates of expected tax revenues were sharply lowered in the weeks since the conference committee began negotiating over the final FY17 budget. The gap forced the conference committee to revise the House and Senate plans, ultimately scaling back the $1.1 billion spending increase proposed in these budgets by approximately $413 million. Many officials have attributed the revenue gap to volatility in the stock market.

Lawmakers were able to close the revenue shortage by canceling a planned $200 million deposit into the rainy day fund, deferring Medicaid payments, assuming that the state's income tax rollback and a $60 million payment to the state's school building authority and MBTA would not take place due to lower economic growth, identifying efficiencies in government procurement, and making $260 million in direct line item cuts to accounts for information technology, county sheriffs, and MassHealth. The budget includes no new taxes or fees, but the revenue shortage has led many lawmakers, including Senate President Stan Rosenberg, to call for additional tax revenue in the future.

The budget preserves increases to local aid, school funding for cities and towns, and substance abuse programs, but many programs will receive even or minimally raised funding levels for FY17 compared to FY16. Budget highlights include:

Health Care

  • The budget reduces funding for MassHealth relative to the House and Senate versions by approximately $142 million. This updated total assumes revised MassHealth caseload estimates and the pending of certain payments scheduled in FY17 to FY18.
  • In response to a strong advocacy effort from hospitals, $15 million is provided in the budget for the Health Safety Net (HSN). The budget does not include, however, a provision in the Senate budget that would have prohibited the Executive Office of Health and Human Services from implementing the recent eligibility changes to the HSN until April 2017.
  • The budget makes a technical correction that ensures that the level of funds transferred from the HSN to the new MassHealth Reform Delivery Trust Fund would not leave the HSN in a further shortfall.
  • Additionally, $73.5 million is transferred from the MassHealth Delivery Reform Trust Fund to the General Fund. This transfer will be used to fund MassHealth spending in FY17.
  • The Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA) is funded at $27.6 million and the Health Policy Commission (HPC) is funded at $8.5 million. FY17 is the first year that hospitals, surcharge payors, and ambulatory surgical centers become responsible for the HPC budget.
  • The budget creates a task force to examine the patient safety issues related to insurer-forced "white bagging/brown bagging" of cancer and chronic disease medications.
  • A special commission established in 2012 to study the causes of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is revived and required to file a report with the legislature by the end of 2017.
  • Senate language that sought to eliminate the current stroke system of care and redirect patients away from local community hospitals where they are currently designated to receive such services was not included in the final budget.

Public Health

  • As part of the state's ongoing efforts to combat its opioid addiction crisis, the budget increases spending by $23.6 million to $139.2 million on substance abuse treatment programs. This money includes support for 125 new residential treatment beds; $12.5 million for step-down recovery services, secure treatment, family intervention services, recovery high schools, and the expansion of the nasal Narcan program; $1.1 million to continue a naltrexone pilot program; and $1 million for the substance abuse trust fund.
  • The budget establishes an interagency task force on newborns with neonatal abstinence syndrome and substance-exposed newborns charged with developing a statewide plan to collect data, develop outcome goals, and ensure that quality service is delivered to these newborns.
  • A Senate provision that would have designated dental hygiene practitioners as a new type of mid-level dental professional akin to a physician assistant on a medical team was not included.

Education and Local Aid

  • Fulfilling a key priority for many lawmakers, the budget increases Chapter 70 school aid by $116 million and unrestricted local aid by $42 million.
  • Higher education funding will increase by 1% overall, including a 1.4% increase for the University of Massachusetts.
  • Reflecting increased spending proposed by the Senate, regional school transportation will receive $61 million.

Transportation

  • The budget limits MBTA fare increases to 7% every two years, effectively lowering the current cap of 5% per year. MBTA fares are set to increase on July 1 by an average of 9%.
  • The budget brings Massachusetts into compliance with the federal REAL ID Act, an anti-terrorism initiative which requires states to begin issuing secure forms of identification that may replace the current driver's licenses of many residents. Governor Baker filed legislation last October bringing Massachusetts into compliance with the law, and the House and Senate included similar measures in their budgets.

Other Notable Provisions

  • The plan creates a special commission to study the regulation of daily fantasy sports and online gaming in Massachusetts. The measure, which represents the legislature's first action to address the industry, calls for appointees of the Governor, the Senate President, the House Speaker, and minority leaders of each branch to review all aspects of fantasy gaming. The commission would be required to report on its findings by March 2017. The commission will begin its work at a time when the state Lottery is seeking approval to offer its products online.
  • An outside section creates a task force to study state policies regarding the cash out of vacation and sick leave credits for state employees not subject to a collective bargaining agreement.
  • Proposals in the Senate budget that banned plastic bags and restricted gas pipeline siting were not included in the conference committee budget. Governor Baker had voiced his opposition to the use of the budget as a means of passing policy riders such as these proposals.

Next Steps

The House and Senate both quickly approved the conference committee budget, sending it to Governor Baker, who will have 10 days to review the bill and issue line item vetoes, which the legislature can override with a two-thirds majority vote in each chamber. The final budget must be approved by the end of July, when the current interim budget runs out.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions