House and Senate approve $40.2 billion state budget

Governor Charlie Baker has 10 days to review the final budget

BOSTON (WWLP) – The House and Senate overwhelmingly voted Friday to approve a $40.2 billion state budget for fiscal year 2018 after a week of delays.

The state’s budget conference committee filed a compromised spending plan Friday morning just a few hours before lawmakers voted on the final bill.

The budget raises funding for public elementary and secondary schools by nearly $120 million as well as a $40 million increase in local aid to cities and towns. But it comes with spending cuts to several areas, including education and programs for at-risk youth.

“When you’re facing a difficult financial time as we are now, you have to make some very tough decisions,” said State Rep. Todd Smola, (R) Warren. “It’s not a slash and burn approach; what it is is a strategic approach.”

With revenues coming in below expectations, several proposals got derailed from the final budget, including a local amendment to study setting up a high speed train from Springfield to Boston. The committee made around $400 million in spending reductions, including about $150 million in MassHealth spending.

“This budget is not without pain,” said Chairperson State Senator Karen Spilka of the state’s Budget Committee. “It’s clear that the state is facing a shortfall in revenue that will have an impact on real people’s lives.”

The Senate proposal called for a tax on short-term rentals, like Airbnb, but it didn’t make it’s way onto the final budget.

The budget still has a few more steps before it can go into effect. The spending plan now heads to Governor Charlie Baker for final review. He has 10 days to look over the budget, but he can decide to veto parts of the plan.