Now that the Massachusetts Senate has finalized its budget proposal for FY 2014, the next step is for the House and Senate to produce a single budget that reflects the priorities of the Legislature as a whole. To that end, a House-Senate Conference Committee will reconcile the differences between the House and Senate budgets and negotiate a budget that can pass both houses.
Differences between the House and Senate budgets include:
- $75 million in additional House funding to help make higher education more affordable
- Senate initiatives that begin to address the large and growing wait list for children seeking early education & care.
- An $11 million gap between the Senate’s higher funding level for Youth Empowerment Programs and the House’s lower level
These are just a few of the many differences—large and small—that the Conference Committee will have to address.
Looked at more broadly, though, the House and Senate budgets are quite similar. They include comparable amounts of new revenue; they both direct the majority of this new revenue towards fixing and improving our transportation system; and both have only a modest amount of additional funding to invest in other areas, whether education, health care, or beyond.
The Governor’s budget proposal had incorporated some broader investments in our communities, including plans to give more kids access to high-quality early education & care, and to combine transportation fixes with more new transportation projects in coming years. To fund these investments, the Governor proposed a revenue package substantial enough to offset a significant portion of the long-term effect of the income tax cuts of 1998-2002—which continue to cost the state $3 billion each year.
At this point in the process, it is the more targeted differences between the House and Senate budgets—and not the broader differences between these and the Governor—that will be taken up by the Conference Committee and that will shape the budget moving forward.
Read more in our Conference Preview