Western Massachusetts senators participate in FY18 budget debate

Lawmakers proposed a $40.3-billion spending plan

BOSTON (WWLP)- The Massachusetts Senate continues to debate next year’s budget. Western Massachusetts senators are hoping to bring much needed funding to communities across the region.

The Massachusetts Senate their debate Wednesday at 10 a.m. on the state’s $40.3-billion budget for fiscal year 2018. Western Massachusetts senators told 22News they’re prioritizing funding toward areas including economic development, public safety, education and healthcare.

Lawmakers will debate more than 1,000 amendments to spending proposal this week, but many won’t make it into the final budget.

“Our job is to balance the revenues that we have with the needs that exist,” said State Senator Don Humason, (R) Westfield.

Senators passed an amendment Wednesday that would provide $100,000 to a Springfield Housing Authority program, called Talk/Read/Succeed. The program provides educational services to low-income children.

“It’s really about education; getting students and children up to reading level by fourth grade,” said State Senator Jim Welch, (D) West Springfield. “They actually are looking to expand it to all different housing developments throughout the city of Springfield.”

Some lawmakers are concerned there may not be enough revenue coming into the state next year, with current tax collections coming in below expectations.

“The governor could end up having to veto a lot of the things that house members and senators put in; let alone the 9C cuts that could take place next fiscal year starting in July.”

The state is currently more than 460 million dollars below expectations in tax collections—one of the major revenue sources to the state.

The Senate will continue their budget debate into Wednesday evening with an east-west high speed rail amendment likely coming up Thursday.