I am very proud to submit Governor Patrick’s budget for fiscal year 2015.
I’ve worked for Governor Patrick now for over seven years, many of them within the Executive Office for Administration and Finance (A&F) assisting him in building and executing annual state budgets. So I’ve had the privilege of seeing, up close and first hand, how our Governor has imparted his vision to these blueprints for the operation of state government.
That vision has never wavered. Seeing how decades of economic change and political choices have undermined the American Dream – the gap between rich and poor widening, fueled by growing barriers to economic mobility; the middle class shrinking, and with a more tenuous hold on true economic security – Governor Patrick has strived to create a different paradigm: one in which our actions create real opportunity for all of our residents, yielding shared prosperity.
And so our Governor has made historic investments in education, even in the face of the greatest fiscal challenges in generations, because education is the foundation for opportunity. Investments in our K-12 schools are at a historic high; capital spending on public college classrooms and labs has quadrupled; and legislation has been enacted to enhance our tools for eradicating achievement gaps. With this Governor’s commitment to education, we stand first in the nation in student achievement and are poised to make more progress on this front through his budget.
Governor Patrick has also taken bold action to lay other foundations of broad-based opportunity and shared prosperity. He has reversed decades of underinvestment in our infrastructure, recognizing that the creation of – and access to – good jobs requires safe roads, modern-day rail and high-speed Internet, for everyone. We have emerged as national leaders in life sciences and clean energy because of the natural strengths of our state’s economy and initiatives launched by the Governor to nurture and accentuate them. We have vastly expanded our investments in affordable housing, knowing how important stable housing is to the success of families.
Finally, Governor Patrick has protected our state’s safety net for the very most vulnerable of our citizens. Most notably, the Governor has led the implementation of our state’s historic health reform initiative which has expanded health security to hundreds of thousands of additional Massachusetts residents, many with low-to-moderate incomes.
The Governor’s FY 2015 budget continues striving to make the American Dream as relevant and vibrant today as it was for our parents and grandparents. It does so by fulfilling commitments initiated previously by this Administration to expand opportunity and growth. Again, we propose to invest record amounts in Chapter 70 education aid (a $100 million increase over FY 2014), supporting the work of our local school districts to educate our young people. $68.4 million in additional funding for our public colleges and universities invests in the development of our future leaders and a world-class system of public higher education in the Commonwealth.
The Governor’s FY 2015 budget also fully funds the next phase of new transportation investments envisioned as part of a multi-year reinvestment program initiated by this Administration. These investments will end the costly practice of paying for transportation personnel on the capital budget, freeing up bond funds to build better roads, rail and bridges in every corner of the Commonwealth. The Governor’s FY 2015 budget also maintains our commitment to health security, continuing to implement the Affordable Care Act in Massachusetts. And it provides an additional $163 million to pay human service providers commensurate with the importance of the job to which we have entrusted them: taking care of some of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable residents.
Governor Patrick intends his budget not merely to keep promises made but also break new ground in breaking down barriers to opportunity. As countless studies show that the path to opportunity is blazed starting at the earliest age, the Governor’s budget invests an additional $15 million to expand access to early education. This builds on a similar investment in the FY 2014 budget; the combination would newly open the doors to early education for over 4,000 children from low-to-moderate income families. The budget also includes other new investments to ensure every child is equipped to succeed, including a $4.5 million increase for extended learning enrichment opportunities and a $3.1 million increase for innovative school-based approaches to improving student performance.
The need for action to create opportunity extends likewise to later ages. People are exiting our prisons without the skills they need to make better choices – and achieve better outcomes for themselves and our communities – with their second chances. The Governor’s FY 2015 budget supports a comprehensive initiative to position our prison and county correctional systems more systematically to provide programs and supports proven to place and keep those leaving incarceration on the right track. With, additionally, expanded support for summer jobs for at-risk youth and continued support for the Administration’s “Pay for Success” plan to reduce juvenile recidivism, this budget embodies Governor Patrick’s commitment to ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to succeed.
It likewise embodies Governor Patrick’s continuing commitment to fiscal responsibility. When a global recession decimated our tax revenues, the Governor maintained balanced state budgets by thoughtfully prioritizing among public investments and making government work more efficiently. He strengthened the long-term finances of state and local government in Massachusetts by securing the enactment of historic pension and municipal health insurance reforms. He has ushered in a new era of fiscal transparency by issuing the Commonwealth’s first-ever Long-Term Fiscal Framework for its operating budget and Debt Affordability Policy for its capital budget. And he has brought government and labor leaders together to endorse a blueprint for finding sensible savings in retiree health care costs to preserve this benefit for career public employees. This type of fiscal leadership has earned the Commonwealth the highest bond ratings in its history.
In his budget, Governor Patrick continues to put state government on more sound fiscal footing. The budget increases the state’s annual contribution towards its pension liabilities, as part of a framework jointly endorsed by the Administration and the Legislature to accelerate the full funding of these costs. It sets aside $82 million to continue building up a trust fund to help pay for the long-term costs of providing health care to retired public employees. The budget also cuts the state’s use of Rainy Day funds – and, overall, the net amount of one-time resources – used to support annual spending in half from FY 2014. With this restraint and the continued investment of excess capital gains revenues in our reserves, the Rainy Day Fund will end FY 2015 at $1.2 billion – one of the largest balances in the nation, and an amount almost identical to the prior year’s balance.
The Governor’s FY 2015 budget also achieves important milestones in Governor Patrick’s push to make the work of state government more results-oriented, data-driven and publicly accountable to taxpayers. With this budget, each Secretariat is publishing a report outlining how it performed on a series of previously announced, quantifiable indicators designed to measure the degree to which it is accomplishing its mission. In a similar vein, we are enhancing the “program budget” format initiated in the Governor’s budget last year by now including expressly articulated success measures alongside published funding amounts for programs. These are major steps towards instituting a recurring discipline of rigorously, objectively and comprehensively articulating goals for state government and measuring whether we are achieving them, in a manner that empowers taxpayers to be full participants in a conversation about public ends and means.
The Executive Office for Administration and Finance would like to thank Governor Patrick for the inspiration and guidance he provides in crafting the state budget. We are privileged to work for him. We would additionally like to thank the Governor’s staff and our colleagues throughout the Executive Branch who have helped us craft this budget. We also appreciate our ongoing collaboration with the Senate and House Ways and Means Committees, led respectively by Chairman Stephen Brewer and Chairman Brian Dempsey, and look forward to working with them and their legislative colleagues on the enactment of a FY 2015 budget in the months to come.
I am so honored to be part of such a great team at A&F. I am deeply grateful to every member of our team who contributed to building this budget. Above all, I would like to thank Emme Schultz, Assistant Secretary for the Budget and Fiscal Operations, for her exceptional leadership of this endeavor.