BOSTON– The Massachusetts Senate voted today to approve a final $40.202B billion budget for Fiscal Year 2018. The budget makes reductions in spending from the originally proposed Senate budget due to revised revenue forecasts, but maintains a strong commitment to Chapter 70 education funding and preserving local aid to cities and towns. The FY 2018 budget includes $40.202B in total spending with investments in education, local aid, health care, substance addiction services, developmental services and children and families.
“We had to make many difficult choices, but I am happy that we were able to prioritize maintaining funding for our schools, local communities and public safety initiatives,” said Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury). “Even though these are very tough fiscal times, it is important that we deposited $100 million into the state’s Stabilization order to protect our financial future.”
“This budget was negotiated in a tough fiscal environment, as projected revenues fell short for a variety of complex reasons,” said Senator Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “We have worked hard to balance fiscal responsibility with our longstanding commitment to the residents of our Commonwealth. Our fiercest commitment is to our children, and so the final budget contains an overall increase in Chapter 70 education funding. We also increased local aid to cities and towns, and fought to ensure that the Governor’s late-proposed healthcare package was not adopted without the proper public process and transparency.”
“This is the harshest state budget since the last recession. It would have been somewhat better had it contained the Senate’s modest revenue proposals including those on Airbnb, internet hotel resellers, flavored cigars, film tax, and the CPA,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst). “We can take some measure of pride in what we were able to do for local aid, children, and veterans, but too many were left behind.”
In response to below benchmark FY2017 revenue, the conference committee took the following steps to close the budget gap:
• $400M in spending reductions relative to the House and Senate budgets, including a $150M reduction to MassHealth because of efficiencies and enhanced program integrity and $250M in reductions in other areas of the budget
• $205M in anticipated department efficiencies

• $50M in non tax revenue increase from agencies, departments, trusts or federal resources
The conference committee reviewed and considered the package of proposals submitted by the Baker/Polito Administration regarding the employer assessment and MassHealth benefit and eligibility changes. The final budget proposes:
• Including the targeted two-tiered EMAC contribution to generate $200M in revenue
• Modifying the unemployment insurance schedule that will allow employers to pay approximately $334M less over 2 years than they would have paid under the current schedule
• Not including any of the new reforms at MassHealth requiring federal waiver changes, other changes to eligibility and benefits, or commercial market reforms
Significant final investments include:
• $4.74B in Chapter 70 education funding, a $118.9M increase, which amounts to a $30 per pupil increase, 85% effort reduction, and a significant down payment on foundation budget health care rate increases
• $1.061B for Unrestricted Local Aid to Cities and Towns – a $40M increase
• $15M for Early Education and Care (EEC) rate reserve
• $132.5M for the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services to continue to fund beds, treatment centers, life-saving medications and recovery options
• $61.7M increase to developmental services, particularly in support of the growing Turning 22 population
• $36M increase in overall DCF funding to continue important initiatives designed to ensure that every family has a healthy, supportive environment
Further recommendations preserved in the conference committee report include:
• Expansion of the Housing Court, to stabilize housing and keep residents in their homes
• Creation of a dedicated reserve for CPCS to ensure that these attorneys will be paid regularly for their crucial work moving forward
• Maintenance of $2M in the budget for the cannabis commission so that the will of voters continues to move forward in a smooth and transparent manner
The FY 2018 conference committee report passed the Senate with a vote of 36 to 2. The budget will now go to Governor Baker for his signature.