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Budget Recommendations

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April 2, 2003

The Honorable Therese Murray, Chair
Senate Committee on Ways and Means
State House, Room 212
Boston, Massachusetts 02133

The Honorable John H. Rogers, Chair
House Committee on Ways and Means
State House, Room 243
Boston, Massachusetts 02133

Dear Chairpersons:

   I am writing to bring to your attention several revisions to the House 1 budget recommendations for Fiscal Year 2004, and to respectfully request that you include these revisions in your budget recommendations. Please note that this letter is in addition to the one dated March 6, 2003, pertaining to revisions to Section 49, Group Health Insurance Premium Contributions.

   Item 1232-0200, Underground Storage Tank (UST) Administrative Review Board, should be increased by $343,381. A proposal by the Department of Revenue to bring the review of UST claims in-house would have increased FTE costs, while decreasing consultant costs. The proposal and the FTE increase were rejected, but the funds for consultant costs were inadvertently not restored to the UST Review Board budget. If proper funding for the consultants is not restored, UST claims will be reviewed more slowly and payments to applicants will be delayed.

   Alterations in the organization of the Department of Environment and the creation of an additional trust fund have resulted in some minor, zero-sum transfers between accounts. The table below summarizes the changes. The first two columns reflect the original appropriation in House 1. The columns underneath "Revised Appropriations" reflect the desired change in appropriation.

House One Appropriation Revised Appropriations
  2200-0100 2700-0100 2800-0100 2800-0301 2800-0318 Trust Fund
2200-0100 27,158,315 26,306,015 664,632   187,668    
2700-0100 4,268,359   4,268,359        
2800-0100 21,601,050     14,635,339     6,965,711
2800-0301 451,514       308,976   142,538
2800-0318 414,762         - 414,762
TOTALS 53,894,000 26,306,015 4,932,991 14,635,339 496,644 - 7,523,011

   A section creating a separate trust fund to be known as the Inland Fisheries and Game Fund should be added, as follows:

SECTION XX. Section 2 of Chapter 131 of the General Laws, as amended by sections 4 and 5 of chapter 23 of the Acts of 2002, is hereby further amended by striking said section in its entirety, and inserting the following section: -

Section 2. There shall be established and set up on the books of the commonwealth a separate trust fund to be known as the Inland Fisheries and Game Fund to be expended by the bureau of fish and wildlife within the division of fisheries and wildlife and environmental law enforcement. There shall be credited to such fund all monies received by the commonwealth from license fees, permit fees and from all other sources pertaining to inland fishing, hunting and trapping; from permit fees under the provisions of section 22A; from any sale authorized in section 6; and sums received by the commonwealth from the federal government as reimbursement, grants in aid or other receipts on account of activities of the bureau of fish and wildlife; provided, however, that one dollar from the sale of each sporting, fishing, trapping and hunting license shall be credited to the wildland acquisition account established by section 2A. Said fund shall be used as follows: -
(1) For the payment of general administrative expenses of the bureau.
(2) For acquiring, maintaining or leasing public fishing rights on land on inland streams and ponds, including stream management and the creation of new ponds.
(3) For acquiring, maintaining or leasing public hunting rights on land within the commonwealth.
(4) For biological surveys of the inland waters of the commonwealth.
(5) For propagation of game birds and fish.
(6) For salvaging and distributing game birds and fish.
(7) For acquisition and maintenance of wildlife sanctuaries and fish and wildlife management areas.
(8) For maintaining water resources to provide an adequate water supply for wildlife.
(9) For maintaining sources of food for game birds.
(10) For other general purposes of the bureau.
(11) For payment not to exceed one half of the amount necessary for personal services and other expenses for and on account of the enforcement of laws relating directly to game and inland fisheries, such amounts to be determined by the secretary for administration and finance.

   Several sections dealing with fund consolidations should be adjusted. The reference to the Local Aid Fund, section 2C 1/2 of Chapter 29 of the General Laws, should be moved from section 22 to section 35 since the negative balance in the fund would unnecessarily drain the Stabilization Fund. Section 35 provides for the balance to go to the General Fund whereas Section 22 would transfer it to the Stabilization Fund. In addition, section 22 should also include the repeal of section 2EE of Chapter 29 of the General Laws, and should not include the repeal of section 2 of Chapter 119A of the General Laws or section 2 of Chapter 131 of the General Laws. (House Bill 89 amends section 2 of Chapter 119A and satisfies the Administration's goal of eliminating minor funds by transferring revenues to an account within the Child Support Trust Fund.)

   Section 39, Tobacco Settlement Spending, is intended to transfer only FY04 and future Master Settlement Agreement payments to the General Fund. This section would not affect previous MSA payments or invested monies currently in the Health Care Security Trust. As such, the section should read:

SECTION 39. Section 3 of chapter 29D of the General Laws, as amended by sections 7 and 7A of chapter 300 of the acts of 2002, is hereby further amended by striking subsection (c) and inserting in place thereof the following subsection:-
   (c) The comptroller shall promptly certify to the executive office of administration and finance, the house and senate committees on way and means, the joint committee on health care and the advisory committee on health care and tobacco control established pursuant to section 5, the amount and date when any payments are made pursuant to the master settlement agreement in the tobacco action and any other payments are made or credited to said fund. In fiscal year 2004, and thereafter, the comptroller shall transfer the total amount of payments from the master settlement agreement from the Health Care Security Trust Fund to the General Fund not later than 15 days after the certification of said payments.

   Section 86, Chapter 70 Amendments, should be clarified with the following amendments. The definition of "Base pupil allotment" should be amended by striking the current language and inserting the following:

"Base pupil allotment," in fiscal year 2004, $5,500 per student. In fiscal year 2005 and beyond, the prior year's base per pupil allotment adjusted by inflation as measured by the implicit price deflator for state and local government purchases reported by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

   Section 86 should be further amended by striking subsection (g) and inserting the following:

(g) "Vocational enrollment", the number of students enrolled in vocational and occupational education programs or an agricultural school in a district.

   Section 86 should be further amended by inserting at the end of the definition of "foundation budget" the following:

; multiplied by the sum of 0.3 plus 0.7 times the wage adjustment factor.

   Section 86 should be further amended by inserting the following:

"Wage adjustment factor", an adjusted difference between the average annual wage for all jobs in the labor market area in which a municipality is located and the average annual wage in the commonwealth. Average annual wage figures shall be published annually by the division of employment and training. The wage adjustment factor shall be the sum of one plus a fraction, the numerator of which shall be the product of one-third and the difference resulting from subtracting the average annual wage in the commonwealth from the average annual wage of the community; and the denominator of which shall be the average annual wage in the commonwealth; provided that the wage adjustment factor shall be no less than one.

   Section 98, State Library Transfer to the Secretary of the Commonwealth, is unnecessary and should be removed. Sections 5, 6, and 20 fulfill the intent on this matter.

   Section 216, Crime Victim Compensation, should be removed. The intent of this section is addressed in a new section, entitled Crime Victim Compensation, listed below.

   A section regarding crime victim compensation should be added, as follows:

SECTION XX. Paragraph (f) of section 2 of chapter 258C of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by adding at the end thereof the following:- If a claimant is 60 years of age or older at the time of the crime and is not employed or receiving unemployment compensation, such claimant shall be eligible for compensation in accordance with said chapter 258C even if the claimant has suffered no out-of-pocket loss. The compensation to such claimant shall be limited to a maximum of $50. Notwithstanding the provisions of any general or special law to the contrary, victims of the crime of rape shall be notified of all available services designed to assist rape victims, including, but not limited to, the provisions outlined in section 5 of chapter 258B.

   Section 248, Retained Revenue Advance Spending Authority, should also include items 1750-0201 and 4590-0905. These items are new retained revenue accounts that need authority to begin spending prior to receipt of expected revenue.

   Section 263, Assessment of Integrated Pest Management Program, should be amended by striking the words "item 2200-0100" and inserting the words "item 2700-0100." Section 319, Retention of Sliding Fees by Home Care Corporations, should be amended by changing the amount identified for retention by individual home care corporations to $7,500,000 rather than $6,000,000.

   A section transferring the Committee on Criminal Justice should be added, as follows:

SECTION XX. Section 156 of chapter 6 of the General Laws, as amended in section 12 of chapter 196 of the Acts of 2002, is hereby amended by inserting in the first sentence after the first use of the word "be" the following:- ,within the Executive Office of Public Safety,

   A section referring to cremation fees should be added, as follows:

SECTION XX. Section 14 of chapter 38 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2000 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking in the first sentence the words "of fifty dollars" and inserting in place thereof the following:- as determined from time to time by the secretary of public safety

   A section to increase the fees for suspended drivers' license reinstatements should be added, as follows:

SECTION XX. Section 33 of chapter 90 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2000 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking paragraph 36 and inserting in place thereof the following paragraph:-
   (36) For the reinstatement of any license or right to operate a motor vehicle which has been suspended or revoked under the provisions of subsections (a), (e) and (f) of section 22, sections 22F, 23, 24, except as otherwise provided below, section 24B, 24D, 24G, 24L or section 34J, and section 28 of chapter 266, the fee shall be $500. The fee for reinstatement following a revocation pursuant to subparagraph (2) of paragraph (c) of subdivision (1) of said section 24 shall be $700 and the fee for such reinstatement following a revocation pursuant to subparagraphs (3) and (3 1/2) of said paragraph (c) of said subdivision (1) of said section 24 shall be $1,200. The fee for reinstatement of any license or right to operate a motor vehicle which has been suspended or revoked under any other general or special law of the commonwealth shall be $100; provided, however, the fee for the reinstatement for suspensions and revocations pursuant to subsection (c) of section 22 shall be commensurate with the fee established for the corresponding Massachusetts offense resulting in suspension or revocation pursuant to the General Laws.

   A section amending the premiums and co-payments for individuals enrolled in the Children's Medical Security Program should be added, as follows:

SECTION XX. Section 24G of chapter 111 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2000 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking the fourth paragraph and inserting in place thereof the following paragraph:-
   The cost of said program shall be funded in part by premiums contributed by enrollees according to the following eligibility categories: households ineligible for medical benefits pursuant to chapter 118E earning 150 per cent or less of the federal poverty level shall not be responsible for contributing to program premium costs. The Department, pursuant to regulations promulgated under this section, shall establish premiums for those households earning more than 150% of the federal poverty level. The Department, may from time to time adjust premium levels and co-payments to provide for the fiscal soundness of the program.

   A section referring to inmate transaction fees should be added as follows:

SECTION XX. Section 1 of Chapter 124 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2000 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after subsection (t), the following subsection:-
(u) adopt policies and procedures establishing reasonable fees for the maintenance and administration of inmate accounts maintained at any state correctional facility. The commissioner may charge each inmate reasonable fees for the maintenance and administration of inmate accounts and may deduct such fees from each inmate's account.

   A section governing the use of the Commonwealth's pension fund contribution should be added, as follows:

SECTION XX. The amounts appropriated in item 0612-1010 of section 2 of this act shall be made available for the Commonwealth's Pension Liability Fund established by section 22 of chapter 32 of the General Laws, to meet the commonwealth's obligations pursuant to section 22C of said chapter 32, including retirement benefits payable by the state employees' and the state teachers' retirement systems, the costs associated with a 3 per cent cost-of-living adjustment pursuant to the provisions of section 102 of said chapter 32, the reimbursement of local retirement systems for previously authorized cost-of-living adjustments pursuant to said section 102, and for the costs of increased survivor benefits pursuant to chapter 389 of the acts of 1984. Subject to rules and regulations promulgated by the treasurer, the state retirement board and each city, town, county, or district shall verify the cost of said obligations and the treasurer may make payments therefor upon a transfer of funds as hereinafter provided, to reimburse certain cities and towns for pensions to retired teachers, and including any other obligations which the commonwealth has assumed on behalf of any retirement system other than the state employees' or state teachers' retirement systems, and including the commonwealth's share of the amounts to be appropriated pursuant to section 22B of said chapter 32 and the amounts to be appropriated pursuant to clause (a) of the last paragraph of section 21 of chapter 138 of the General Laws. All payments for the purposes herein described shall be made only pursuant to distribution of monies from said fund; provided, that such distributions shall not be made in advance of the date on which any payment is actually to be made. Any request for distribution from said fund shall not be in excess of the amount necessary to provide sufficient monies to make all payments for the purposes herein before described. The state retirement board is authorized to expend an amount for the purposes of the board of higher education's optional retirement program pursuant to section 40 of chapter 15A of the General Laws. Except where authorized herein, no funds shall be expended from said item 0612-1010 other than deposits to the Commonwealth's Pension Liability Fund.

   A section referring to the allocation of funding to the Boston Public Library as the library of last recourse should be added, as follows:

SECTION XX. Notwithstanding the provisions of any general or special law to the contrary for item 7004-9401, the Boston Public Library, shall, as the library of last recourse for reference and research services for the commonwealth, be paid from this item an amount equal to $1.06 per resident in the commonwealth.

   A section referring to school district professional development expenditures should be added, as follows:

SECTION XX. Each school district in fiscal year 2004 shall expend not less than $125 per student on professional development expenditures as defined in regulations of the department of education.

   Thank you for your attention to these changes. Please contact me or the appropriate fiscal policy analyst if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Eric A. Kriss
Secretary

cc: Andy Cherullo, Budget Director, House Committee on Ways and Means
Matt Gorzkowicz, Budget Director, Senate Committee on Ways and Means