BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) – After several weeks of negotiations, the Massachusetts House and Senate sent a $38 billion state budget to the Governor’s desk for his review. About half of that money will pay for health care.
State Representative Todd Smola (R-Warren) told 22News, “Health insurance is obviously always the most expensive. Given what’s happened with double digit increases that have happened from one year to the next, it’s obviously a big ticket item.”
The spending plan also increases state funding for cities and towns by $34 million. Public schools will receive $100 million more compared to the previous fiscal year. State lawmakers also agreed to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, a program that will allow the working poor to owe less in taxes.
“The expansion of that became part of this; I think is a great thing for low income, working families here in the Commonwealth,” said Republican Governor Charlie Baker.
Top state leaders have struggled to agree on a way to pay for the program. Instead of freezing the state income tax rate, lawmakers voted to repeal the corporate tax break that never went into effect.
House Ways and Means Chairman State Rep. Brian Dempsey (D-Haverill) said, “We believe that the repeal of that will free up $72 million, which will pay for the increase in the earned income tax credit.”
The fiscal 2016 budget will increase state spending by 3.5% percent over the previous year. The plan doesn’t include any new fees or taxes. Governor Charlie Baker has ten days to review the budget and make changes before signing it into law.