House completes budget

On April 27, the House concluded deliberations on its version of the FY08 state budget.  The House increased its budget by an additional $200 million over the budget the House Ways and Means Committee released.  However, the House did not increase any revenues so these additional funds will have to come out of the "rainy day" fund.  By doing this, the structural deficit is increased and it will make balancing the budget next fiscal year even more difficult.

Action on the FY08 budget now moves to the Senate.  It is expected that the Senate will debate its version of budget in late May.  The House made small increases to several education accounts which are detailed below.Early EducationThe House added nearly $3.5 million to early education, including an additional $2.5 million to the state's new Universal Pre-Kindergarten pilot grant program ($5.6 million total).  Community Partnerships for Children received an additional $250,000 for planning and outreach (although this amount is still less than FY07).

K-12 Education Program Items

  • An education "pot-hole" account (monies for schools for extraordinary expenses) was added to the budget and funded at $5.5 million.
  • Regional school transportation reimbursement funds was increased by $2.3 million, bringing the funding level to $57,300,000.
  • The extended learning time pilot grant program line item was increased by $3.5 million, bringing that line item to $13 million.  This is the same amount as the governor proposed.
  • A pilot program to help reduce special education transportation costs was funded at $300,000.

Other items increased included:

  • METCO funding increased by $1 million, to $20.6 million.
  • After-school program funding increased by $500,000 to $2 million.
  • MCAS Remediation grant funding increased by $1.25 million to $12.5 million.
  • Reading Recovery grant program funding increased by $500,000 to $3.4 million.

Unfortunately, a number of important programs were not funded or increased, including:

  • Planning grant for a pilot program to enhance teacher quality was not funded in this budget.
  • Full-day kindergarten grant program was not fully funded, as requested by the Governor (House recommended $31 million; the Governor had recommended $39.5 million).
  • SPED circuit breaker was not increased.
  • School transportation (non-regional) was not funded in this budget.Higher EducationDuring the amendment process, the House included slight funding increases for the Board of Higher Education, scholarship programs and UMass Lowell.  The pilot program for out of state tuition retention at Mass College of Liberal Arts was extended for two years.