The Legislature has approved a $39.1 billion budget for FY17, one that will have a mixed impact on high-quality early education. Governor Baker now has 10 days to review the budget and make potential vetoes before signing it into law.
MassLive.com reports that the budget addresses “an estimated $750 million drop in revenues compared to what lawmakers originally proposed. The budget represents growth of just 2.6 percent compared to the 2016 budget.”
There are no new taxes or fees.
“The bill makes $260 million in spending cuts. It directs the administration to cut another $100 million through ‘procurement efficiencies,’ essentially coming up with places to trim spending across executive branch departments.”
The Boston Globe adds that the budget “avoids dramatic cuts by relying on a series of financial maneuvers to close a big gap in expected tax revenue for the fiscal year that begins Friday.”
“So where does most of the $39.1 billion budget go? Forty-one percent of the budget is poised to go to Medicaid, 14 percent to health and human services, 14 percent to local aid, 6 percent to education, and 6 percent to debt service.”
The impact on early education and care was mixed.
The good news is that there is a $12.5 million rate reserve to support workforce salaries in state-subsidized early education and care programs. This is more than double the $5 million rate reserve that the Legislature funded in last year’s budget, and it will help address the ongoing workforce crisis.
Unfortunately, full-day kindergarten grants were eliminated, an $18.59 million cut from the current fiscal year. This will have a negative impact on kindergarten quality across the commonwealth.
And while the Department of Early Education and Care’s budget will increase slightly, it has still not returned to pre-recession funding levels. Funding constraints continue to limit the state’s ability to invest in strengthening the foundations of early learning and increasing young children’s access to high-quality early education programs.
“It’s a tough year financially, so we’re not seeing the budget allocations that we’d like to see,” Chris Martes, president and CEO of Strategies for Children said. “But we’re excited about the strong public and political support for early education in Massachusetts and across the country. We know what we have to do for young children, and in future budget years we’ll be ready and able to do it.”
For more information on budget line items, visit our website.