“Budgets are moral documents.” -We have Representative Barbara Lee to thank for calling this idea forward.
Budgets are essentially lawmakers’ values in numbers. That’s why I wanted to take a moment to celebrate the stellar leadership of so many Massachusetts Senate members who fought long and hard for a budget that advances the values that many in our region hold dear.
Here’s a step back on some of the stellar gains made in the Fiscal Year 2019 Massachusetts Senate budget. The budget is off to a Conference Committee, which is a body charged with reconciling the differences between the House and the Senate budgets. The Conference Committee reports out the compromise for a final vote and then the governor has 10 days to review the budget and take action.
- Adult basic education: Increased by $3.3 million
- Chapter 70 funding (that’s for our public schools): Increased by $160 million
- Higher education funding: $500 million for UMass, $282 million for community colleges like Greenfield Community College, and $259 million for state colleges and universities
- Inclusion of an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) that saves money for working families
- Massachusetts Cultural Council: Increased by $2.08
- Residential assistance for families in transition: Increased by $3.5
- Safe Communities Amendment: Protects all Massachusetts residents by ensuring that state and local resources are not used for federal immigration enforcement. It will also block Massachusetts from participating in any Muslim Registry
- Tax Expenditure Review Commission: Establishes a commission to regularly review state-level corporate tax credits to make sure the credits are working in the best interest of the Commonwealth
- A regional transportation task force: To study east-west rail
And a host of locally focused aid and opportunity coming home to the region.
For years at National Priorities Project, I tracked spending and tax priorities, as well as budget amendments, on the national, state, and local levels. The budgeting process is an essential function of Commonwealth lawmakers, one I’d relish if elected.