The House Ways and Means budget proposal

On April 13, the House Ways and Means Committee released its version of the FY12 budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The $30.5 billion proposal is less than last year’s budget because the FY11 budget relied on federal stimulus funds helped the state provide needed funding for essential services. Federal funds will not be available for this budget.

Budget Spreadsheets The budget gap between maintaining current services and expected revenues is nearly $2 billion. In order to present a balanced budget that is required by law, House Ways and Means, like the Governor, proposes to make significant cuts to local aid, higher education and safety net programs.

Overall funding levels for education are reduced as a result of the loss of the federal stimulus funds. The loss of federal monies that helped protect higher education last year is not made up by state dollars this year.  This results in a proposed cut of 7.5 percent ($61.5 million) to college campus accounts. Chapter 70 spending for preK-12 is slightly more than in FY11, while local aid is cut by 7 percent.  Early education and most education grant programs are proposed to be level-funded.

Municipal Health Insurance

The House Ways and Means budget includes a section that would effectively eliminate collective bargaining for municipal health insurance.  Outside section 46 would give municipalities the ability to unilaterally design health insurance plans, including co-pays, deductibles and other plan design features and strips unions of virtually any role in the process to provide savings to our cities and towns.

More on MTA's response to the MHI provisions

PreK-12 Education

The House Ways and Means proposal for funding Chapter 70, Local Aid and most grant programs is essentially the same as that proposed by the Governor in House 1.

Chapter 70 – State Aid to Local School Districts

Chapter 70 is reduced from current FY11 funding levels ($4.47 to $3.99 billion, a decrease of $82 million) as a result of the loss of $221 million in federal stimulus money.  The state’s share of Chapter 70 in FY11 was $3.85 billion. 

For FY12, state funding in the proposal sees an increase of $139 million. This is the same increase as proposed by the Governor in House 1.  While this is a cut in Chapter 70 funds available for our local schools, this funding level is sufficient to keep all school districts at the required foundation spending level.  Over half of the districts still have unspent federal Education Jobs money available that can be used at the beginning of FY12.  In many cases, this will prevent major cuts.

Other Local Aid  – Unrestricted General Government Aid

In addition to Chapter 70 funds, cities and towns receive state funds through Local Aid.  In some communities, as much as 50 percent of this other local aid helps pay for public schools.  The House Ways and Means proposal funds local aid to cities and towns (Unrestricted General Government Local Aid) at $834 million. This is a $65 million decrease from FY11, a 7 percent cut for each city and town.  This is the same as the Governor proposed.

PreK-12 Education Grant Programs

  • Special Education Circuit Breaker - House Ways and Means funds the Special Education Circuit Breaker program at $213 million, an $80 million increase from the current FY11 budget. This increase is the same as the Governor’s.
  • Regional School Transportation – funding at FY11 level of $40.5 million.
  • Full Day Kindergarten – funding at FY11 level of $22.9 million.
  • Expanded Learning Time – funding at FY11 level of $13.9 million.
  • METCO - House Ways and Means proposes a $1.5 million cut to METCO (an 8.5 percent cut from $17.6 to $16.1 million).  The Governor had proposed to level-fund this program.

The Governor proposed small increases for several education programs, including the School Breakfast Program, MCAS Low-Scoring Support and Targeted Intervention for Underperforming Schools, while House Ways and Means proposes to level-fund them.

Early Education and Care

House Ways and Means proposes to slightly increase funding ($2.4 million) over the FY11 budget for Early Education and Care ($512.6 million).

Higher Education

Campus Line Items

Beginning in FY12, all campuses are allowed to retain tuition from out-of-state students.  House Ways and Means proposes to fund each campus at a level which, with assumed tuition retention, holds each campus at its FY11 state appropriation.  However, this is a cut of about 7.5 percent, or $61.5 million, since federal stimulus monies were used in FY11 to fund higher education, but these funds will not be available in FY12. This proposed funding level is essentially the same as the Governor’s House 1 proposal.

Scholarship Program

Proposed to be funded at $86.5 million, down $3 million from the current FY11 budget and $1.8 million from the Governor’s House 1.

Employee Benefits

Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) – House Ways and Means proposal provides for a 3% increase on the first $12,000 in pension benefits for retired state employees.

House Ways and Means Budget Spreadheets

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