A Foundation for Change: The Patrick-Murray Fiscal Year 2008 Budget
Budget plan lays foundation for sound future
BOSTON- Wednesday, February 28, 2007 - Governor Deval Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray today filed the $26.713 billion state budget for fiscal year 2008 - a balanced first step toward building a better, stronger Massachusetts.
"Our budget for Fiscal Year 2008 is balanced and responsible," Governor Patrick said. "We've reduced spending growth to match available revenues. We have invested appropriately in our people and our economy because we believe that without well-prepared people and strong companies, large and small, we cannot secure our long-term future. Our budget also takes important steps towards ending years of financial gimmicks and shell games."
Despite the challenges of drawing up a statewide spending blueprint while facing a $1 billion-plus deficit owing to low revenue growth, dramatic increases in health care costs and new recurring spending commitments carried over from last year, the Patrick-Murray administration held the budget to just 4 percent growth over fiscal year 2007 levels - without dipping into the stabilization fund.
Instead, the administration found $976 million in efficiencies and savings, including but not limited to the elimination of $295 million in unintended corporate tax benefits, $179 million in Medicaid, $86 million in earmarks, $59 million in reductions in maintenance and $136 million in other savings in more than 200 areas.
The budget also finds $123 million in new revenue through improved cash management and debt initiatives and an additional $43 million through enhanced revenue collection and enforcement through the Department of Revenue and the Appellate Tax Board.
The budget also includes:
- 46 percent increase in funding for Kindergarten Expansion Grants for a spending total of $39.5 million.
- A $200 million increase in Chapter 70 education aid, enabling every operating public school district to receive increased funding. Total Chapter 70 spending: $3.71 billion.
- 5.5 percent increase in Local Aid (including $77 million for School Building Authority). Total Local Aid spending: $6.04 billion.
- Doubled funding for Extended Learning Time Grants. Total spending: $13 million.
- Direct property tax relief through Homeowner Circuit Breaker for 100,000 qualified households.
- The start of a community policing initiative by funding up to 250 officers and training. Total spending: $33.7 million.
- Adds $2 million for a new, year-round employment program for at-risk youth. Total spending: $6.7 million.
- Provides $4 million for Expedited Permitting Program.
- Fully maintains and funds health care reform expansions in MassHealth benefits, eligibility, and rates. Total spending: $514.4 million.
- Includes $472 million for Commonwealth Care Insurance to allow nearly 150,000 residents to enroll in the program for FY08.
- $24.8 million increase for Universal Immunization Program, covering three new vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to prevent young people from contracting serious illnesses. This funding will provide 71,334 infants with the Rotavirus vaccine, 108,188 children with the Meningococcal Conjugate vaccine, and 72,126 girls between the ages of 9 and 18 with the Human Papilloma Virus Vaccine (HPV). Total spending: $61.6 million.
- More efficient delivery of services to assist homeless families or families at-risk of homelessness by consolidating 11 line items into two line items for one purpose. This facilitates the transfer of funding to greatest need. Total spending at Health and Human Services: $122.1 million. Total spending at Department of Housing and Community Development: $37.9 million.
- Shifts salaries for 158 workers in the Executive Office of Transportation from the capital budget to the operating budget to save 60 cents on every dollar in interest costs. This begins to address the problem of the more than 1,800 state employees who are funded through bonds.
- Funds FY08 retiree health benefits liability (OPEB) and makes a down payment on the FY09 liability by investing proceeds from 1990s tobacco settlement.
One of the goals in drawing up the administration's first budget was to make the complicated and long document easier for the public to access and understand. The FY08 budget is a third shorter than FY07 with fewer outside sections and line items. It is available online at www.mass.gov/budget with improved search features to explain specific sections.