The Legislature successfully passed the FY14 budget Monday after a prolonged conference committee between the House and the Senate. It was worth the wait. I am pleased with the overall package that increases our Rainy Day fund, keeping it within the top four highest funds in the Country. This will be very important as we seek bonds to repair roads and bridges.
The budget also includes some immediate reforms to target EBT fraud: the requirement of photo ID’s of each eligible household member over the age of 18, and the requirement for increased data base sharing between state and federal entities such as the MA Registry, MA Health, Social Security and law enforcement. As more reforms are needed, I am glad that we will revisit and examine the Department of Transitional Assistance in a more comprehensive way in coming months, along with work promotion policies. That being said, I am very supportive of the fact that we are requiring reforms now that will have an immediate impact via the budget process.
Local aid was increased slightly for the first time since FY 2010, and modest increases were included for CH 70, funding for local schools. Since it appears that the federal government is not taking action on the rising costs of college education or the reduction of the cost of student loans, this state budget includes increased funding for Public Higher Education in Massachusetts for the first time in a decade, preventing a scheduled 4.9% tuition increase for next year.
I expect that the Governor will return the budget to us with amendments and line item vetoes, asking for an increase in transportation funding. So much of the budget debate this year has revolved around the Governor’s demand for more transportation funding, along with a steep increase in the income tax.
In spite of the fact that the business community wants higher income taxes for transportation, it would be mistake to be known as the state with the highest income tax rate in the Country. The label of “Taxachusetts” is not one that we want to incur ever again.
State Representative Linda Dean Campbell represents the cities of Methuen and Haverhill.She serves on the following Committees: Ways and Means/Election Laws (Vice Chair)/Public Safety
She can be reached at: 617.722.2305 / Linda.Campbell@mahouse.gov