Following their summer recess, the House and Senate have focused their attention on overriding Governor Baker’s budget vetoes from July. On Wednesday, October 4th, the House voted to restore all 320 million dollars that Governor Baker had vetoed out of the 2018 Fiscal Year budget which had been proposed to him in July.
Since the Senate is behind the House in terms of formal sessions, thus far they have restored 40 million dollars of the budget and are expected to continue overrides in the coming weeks. Both the House and Senate must agree on line-item overrides for them to be restored in the budget.
Although Governor Baker has proposed a more modest budget of 39.4 million dollars, Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Spilka and House Ways and Means Chairman Sanchez are confident they presented Governor Baker with a balanced budget in July. Democrats look to positive fiscal reports, with revenue from the first quarter of the fiscal year 124 million dollars above benchmark, as indicators that overall tax revenue will meet its yearly goals.
However, Republicans, including Governor Baker, note how spending has ended up exceeding tax revenue in the past two years. They are concerned that without additional reforms, the 15.6 billion dollars projected to be spent by MassHealth will lead to an unbalanced budget.
Budget priorities, such as pediatric palliative care for children and a suicide prevention program, which faced extensive budget cuts under Baker’s proposed budget, were restored. Although Republicans tended to side with Governor Baker in voting against additional spending, there were a couple of unanimous votes, including ones for Mass Health nursing home rates, a Soldier’s Home in Chelsea, food assistance programs, and a new postpartum depression program.
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