Governor Baker Signs State Budget

On July 31, Governor Baker signed the $43.1 billion FY2020 state budget into law just hours before a stopgap funding period was about to expire. Massachusetts lawmakers overwhelmingly approved the state budget (House 159-0, Senate 39-1) nearly three weeks into the new fiscal year. The compromised plan is a slight increase over the $42.7 billion budget Baker proposed and a four percent increase over last year’s budget.

The new bill would raise the state rainy day fund balance and provides for the largest annual increase in K-12 education spending ever. The bill also includes drug pricing controls, but does not include Senate proposals to freeze UMass tuition and fees or implement new taxes on opioid manufacturers and vaping products.

Senate Ways and Means Chair Mike Rodrigues said “this consensus fiscal year 2020 budget strikes a balance between maintaining fiscal responsibility and making targeted investments that benefit our commonwealth’s economic well-being.”

Senator Marc Pacheco was the only lawmaker to vote against the compromise budget. His concern was with language regarding offshore wind procurements, which he said could ultimately result in higher rates for customers. Senator Pacheco said he would urge Governor Baker to send that section back with an amendment.

The conferees also included a provision that would allow the Baker administration to lift for one year an offshore wind energy price cap that restricts the price of power from new procurements to no higher than in the previous contract.

Governor Baker did not exercise his line-item veto power saying it wasn’t necessary because the spending plan was balanced. Taxes will not be raised in the new budget, but it increases overall spending by 3.3% and projects tax collections to rise 1.4% over preliminary revenue estimates for last year.

Read more about the Massachusetts budget here.

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