Legislature

Massachusetts legislature unanimously passes $ 48.1 billion budget

More than a week into the fiscal year, the House and Senate bipartisanly agreed to an annual budget of $ 48.1 billion and sent the proposal to Gov. Charlie Baker’s office.

The two branches voted unanimously to approve the revised spending plan, which calls for the ongoing consecration of the state’s controversial film tax credit program, with the continued postponement of the implementation of a tax deduction for charitable donations; and the $ 350 million set aside to support multi-year education funding reform legislation. .

The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Representative Aaron Michlewitz, who co-chaired the conference committee that resolved differences between the House and Senate budget proposals, said the vote “will mark the point. culminating in a volatile 16-month odyssey we’ve seen since the pandemic first hit the Commonwealth.

Around the same time last year, budget writers were concerned about a possible implosion of tax revenues and whether state reserves would be sufficient to keep public services together. But taxpayers have provided strong collections to the state, allowing significant increases in spending and allowing for historic deposits in the Rainy Day Fund.

Representative Todd Smola de Warren, one of the two Republicans involved in the budget negotiations, hailed the final deal as “the culmination of this good working relationship that we have across the aisle.”

The 160 representatives and 40 senators all voted to accept the conference committee’s budget.

The budget funds one-sixth of this $ 1.5 billion school funding reform law, approved in 2019, after the pandemic disrupted its original seven-year implementation schedule.

Legislative negotiators struck a compromise on the multiple policy areas that separated House and Senate budget bills, including the future of a program offering tax credits to film and television productions in Massachusetts.

In their compromise, the legislature agreed to make the credit permanent while imposing one of the changes supported by the Senate. Production companies would now be required to make at least 75% of their main photography days or spend at least 75% of their budget in Massachusetts, up from 50% currently.

The final budget does not include Senate-sanctioned language allowing the purchase of Massachusetts lottery products with debit cards, which both this branch and Baker have sought unsuccessfully in previous spending bills.

Negotiators also removed another section from the Senate budget that would have increased the per-trip charge on transportation companies such as Uber and Lyft.

The bill does not propose any general tax increase.

Lawmakers have again chosen to postpone the implementation of a tax deduction designed to increase donations to charities and nonprofits, a move that officials say would free up $ 64 million to spend in the country. spring. The charitable deduction, approved by voters statewide in 2000 but delayed by a series of delays, will now only begin until at least 2023. The budget bill does not explicitly set a new start date and simply says that the program “will not be authorized for the tax year beginning January 1, 2022.

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