Senate releases 2018 budget amid revenue shortfall

The state is currently 460-million dollars below benchmark in tax collections for 2017

BOSTON (WWLP)-The Senate’s Budget Committee released their state spending plan for next fiscal year with a focus on education and health care, but lawmakers plan cautiously with a current budget shortfall.

The Senate’s budget committee approved a 40.3 billion dollar spending plan for fiscal year 2018. “This budget invests in high quality education for everyone, from kids at birth through adulthood,” said State Senator Karen Spilka, Chair of the Senate Budget Committee.

Under the plan, the state allocates more than 4.5-billion dollars for education funding that goes to public elementary and middle schools. The budget also includes a 15.1 million dollar new investment to expand access to preschool for low-income children in communities like Springfield.

State lawmakers work to balance the budget at a time when the state is short on revenue expectations by more than 460 million dollars. They are looking to find new sources of revenue to help fund critical services like health care and education. One proposal is to increase taxes by 4 percent on Massachusetts millionaires, which could come before voters on the 2018 ballot. But State Senator Don Humason, (R) Westfield, worries it could end up hurting the state’s economy.

“I’m very concerned that when you go after the very folks who are generating revenue who are creating jobs and hiring individuals in our state that that kind of has a dampener on their economic activity, that in fact, end up hurting, not helping our bottom line,” Humason told 22News.

The Senate will debate the budget next Tuesday.