BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts lawmakers gave final approval to a new state budget Friday after House and Senate negotiators reached a deal Thursday on a $48.1 billion spending plan.
When it became clear lawmakers would not have a final budget deal in place for the beginning of the new 2022 fiscal year on July 1, lawmakers approved — and Republican Gov. Charlie Baker signed — a temporary month-long budget aimed at keeping the wheels of state government turning through the end of July.
Negotiators who hammered out the final budget deal for the remainder of the fiscal year benefited from an extra $4.2 billion in surging tax revenues over the last six months that outpaced projections agreed to by legislative leaders and the Baker administration when the state was still in the throes of the pandemic.
The tax revenue upgrade allowed budget writers to eliminate the proposed use of one-time revenues, including a plan to tap the state’s “rainy day” or stabilization fund to balance the budget.
Despite the surge in tax revenues, the budget doesn’t add significant new annual spending not proposed by either the House or Senate, according the business-backed Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.
Instead, the budget sets aside $600 million of the estimated surplus for long-term obligations including $350 million for a trust fund to support the Student Opportunity Act — which requires more funds be channeled into school systems that have higher percentages of low-income students and English language learners — and $250 million to make a supplemental payment to the state’s unfunded pension liability.