Governor Deval L. Patrick
FY15 Budget Signing
Grand Staircase, State House, Boston, MA
Friday, July 11, 2014

Good morning, everybody, and thank you for coming.

Today, I am signing the Fiscal Year 2015 budget into law. This is a 36.5 billion dollar spending plan.  With this budget, spending under our administration continues to grow at a slower rate than previous administrations while at the same time, enabling us to invest in education, innovation and infrastructure to create jobs and expand opportunity. 

That has proven to be a successful strategy, as demonstrated by the fact that we have the highest level of employment in Massachusetts in some 25 years; and families are moving into the Commonwealth again, instead of out; and we have delivered Nation-leading results in education, health care coverage, economic competitiveness, entrepreneurial activity, energy efficiency, veterans services, and much more.

In the conference room at ANF, Secretary Shor and his staff will take you through the details right after I’m done, but I want to note a couple of areas of particular significance before they do.

For the eighth straight year, we will fund the public schools through the chapter 70 formula at record levels.  Support for primary and secondary education in this line item alone is up 26 percent since I took office, which reflects the shared view of the administration and the Legislature that nothing is more important than strengthening our schools.

This budget moves an additional 1,700 children off the waitlist and into high-quality early education opportunities, which we know to be critical for future academic and economic success.

Once again we significantly increase support for public universities and community colleges – another step in promoting our future growth and prosperity.  This funding allows the University of Massachusetts to freeze tuition and fees at current levels for a second consecutive academic year. 

The budget wisely continues to invest in the Life Sciences Center, a proven vehicle for accelerating job creation in the life sciences and beyond.

And the budget also makes important investments to make our communities stronger and safer and provide supporting services and opportunities for the most vulnerable residents of the Commonwealth, most notably funding our Safe and Successful Youth Initiative, the summer jobs program for at-risk youth, and Shannon Grants. 

There are a couple of fiscal highlights I should mention. 

This budget ends the Big-Dig-era practice of paying for transportation staff with capital borrowing.  That’s like paying someone’s salary with a credit card.  With this budget we have not only better fiscal practice but more room for using capital dollars on better roads, rails and bridges across the Commonwealth. 

The budget uses less one-time revenues in Fiscal 2015 than we have in this past year, and we are on track to finish next year with one of the highest rainy day accounts in the Nation at more than $1.2 billion. 

The budget also includes significantly increased payments towards the costs of our long-term public pension and retiree health care liabilities, putting the state on a stronger fiscal footing.

These are the types of measures – a few more of which added each year -- that have earned us the highest bond rating in Commonwealth history and reduced our capital borrowing costs.

In that same vein, I am proposing in the customary year-end Supp Budget that I am filing as well today, additional budget management tools to ensure that we are well-positioned to capitalize on opportunities and solve problems while maintaining a balanced budget, particularly during the remaining months of the Term when the Legislature is not in formal session.  The proposal allows me to make spending reductions if the
Secretary determines that budgeted revenues will be insufficient to meet anticipated expenditures and to reduce spending across state government, not just to our executive branch agencies.  Some may think governors already have such tools.  The truth is they don’t, but they should.

Over the past eight years, my administration has worked with the Legislature to reform the pension system, the ethics rules, the transportation bureaucracy, municipal health insurance and much more.  Alongside reforms in auto insurance and business regulation, and reductions in health care premiums, we have improved performance, promoted long-term fiscal sustainability, and saved our citizens billions of dollars.   

But not everything goes right.  And this budget includes the resources we have sought to help us address things that go wrong. 

The entire region is facing an opioid epidemic.  With the help of experts inside and outside of government, we developed a strategy to address it through an emphasis on prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery.  This budget funds that strategy.

To ensure the safety of children in state care, our child welfare agency needed significant staffing increases and new technology.  This budget funds those needs. 

Confronted with reasons to rethink the care and treatment of those suffering from mental illness in our criminal justice system, we crafted a comprehensive plan to assure appropriate treatment in appropriate settings.  This budget funds that plan.           

For a long time around here, challenges like these just got kicked down the road.  Time and time again, our approach has been marked by steady, unflinching, root cause analysis, followed by thorough and methodical solutions.  And I thank the Legislature for working with us in that spirit.

There are a handful of proposed expenditures in this budget that I do not support.  They represent approximately $16.1 million, well less than one percent of the total spending plan, and I have taken action to reduce or eliminate these.  Secretary Shor and his team can take you through those details as well.

But again, the Legislature and I have worked collaboratively to set funding priorities and invest responsibly in areas that grow opportunity and improve the quality of life for the people we serve.  That partnership has meant a lot to me and, more importantly, has made a difference for the people we serve.  It shows in this budget and for that I thank the Speaker, the Senate President, Chairmen Dempsey and Chairman Brewer, and all the members of the House and Senate, many of whom are here today.     

As always, I thank the team at ANF -- Secretary Shor, Emme Schultz’s, General Counsel David Sullivan who has shown extraordinary leadership -- but all of the members of the ANF team along with the entire cabinet and their teams, for the thoughtful work they have done on this budget, and the careful way they have done it.  I feel lucky indeed, to work alongside all these people.

Before I send you off with the Secretary, I am glad to take a couple of questions.