House Ways and Means Committee releases 2016 budget plan
The House Ways and Means Committee budget proposal for fiscal 2016 contains modest increases in spending in some areas of preK-12 education, but it falls short of meeting funding goals for public higher education.
“Overall, this is a middle-of-the-road budget, not making huge cuts but also not embracing an ambitious agenda to improve public schools and public higher education for the students of Massachusetts,” said MTA President Barbara Madeloni. “We are disappointed that the commitment to restoring funding for our higher education campuses is not met. In order to make serious investments in public schools and public higher education, we must commit to raising new revenues.”
The Ways and Means proposal was released on April 15.
The MTA will provide a more detailed analysis of the budget in the days ahead, but here is some key information about the Ways and Means proposal:
- It rejects Governor Charlie Baker’s proposal to increase the premium split for state employees who receive health insurance through the Group Insurance Commission; premiums would remain where they are now.
- It rejects the governor’s proposal to eliminate Full-Day Kindergarten Grants, calling for $18.6 million in funding for that program; the amount would be $5 million less than in the current fiscal year.
- It allocates $5 million more than the governor’s budget for regional school transportation, $14 million less than was originally allocated for that line item in the current year.
- Overall spending on local public schools would be $62 million higher than in the current year, an increase of just 1.2 percent – or about the level of inflation. This would keep all districts at their foundation budget levels and guarantee $25 more per student, up $5 per student from the governor’s budget. However, within this overall increase, there are some line items that are higher than in fiscal 2015 and some that are lower.
- Early education funding is up a modest $6 million, or about 1 percent from fiscal 2015. It is $11.6 million more than the governor is requesting.
- Public higher education is essentially level-funded, which amounts to a cut relative to inflation and a significant cut relative to the Legislature’s previous commitment to increase the state’s share of the overall costs of public higher education.
- For more information about the fiscal year 2016 budget, click here.