By Bob Katzen
The House 160-0, Senate 40-0, approved and Gov. Charlie Baker on July 16, 2021 signed into law, after vetoing several items, a $48.1 billion fiscal 2022 state budget for the fiscal year that that began on July 1.
The budget was based on new estimates that tax collections in fiscal year 2022 will increase by more than $4.2 billion above the amount originally predicted by the governor, the House and the Senate. In light of the pandemic, elected officials had for months braced themselves for a substantial decrease in tax revenues and a cut in some programs and/or even a tax increase.
The new estimates also led to the cancellation of a planned withdrawal from the state’s Rainy Day Fund of at least $1.5 billion. Officials also project a $1.1 billion deposit into the fund which will drive its balance to $5.8 billion by the end of fiscal year 2022. The budget also cancels a plan to raise fees on Uber and Lyft rides in order to generate new money for cities and towns, the MBTA and other infrastructure projects.
Other provisions include a $350 million fund that could be used in future years to help cover the cost of the $1.5 billion school funding reform law passed in 2019; permanently extending the state’s tax credit for film production companies in Massachusetts; and a new law, based on a bill filed by Sen. Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford) that will provide victims of violent crime and human trafficking enhanced protections.
“[This budget] … upholds our Senate values, charts a hopeful path forward for our commonwealth and more importantly reflects our priorities,” said Senate Ways and Means chair Mike Rodrigues (D-Westport). “We maintain fiscal responsibility and ensure our commonwealth maintains healthy reserves for years to come. It safeguards the health and wellness of our most vulnerable populations and new supports for children and families.”
Although she ultimately voted for the budget, Sen. Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) said that she objected to the fact that legislators were given only a few hours to read the 434-page bill before voting on it. The budget was released late on a Thursday night and was voted on Friday afternoon.
DiZoglio said that positioning members to take a vote on something they did not get adequate time to review is not acceptable. “If we keep doing this over and over again, it’s not going to magically become acceptable,” she said. “The fact that we didn’t get even a day to review this is very disappointing. But what’s more disappointing … is the fact that those in our communities who have a stake in what happens in the bill before us, those it will impact most—our schools, our elderly populations, those who are coming from positions of powerlessness, those folks, probably many of them, still don’t even know that we’re taking this bill up. And yet we continue to call what happens in this chamber part of the democratic process.”
(A “Yes” vote is for the budget.)
Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Mike Connolly Yes Rep. Erika Uyterhoeven Yes Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes