Gov. Baker Releases State Budget Proposal For FY 2022

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — The Baker Administration unveiled its proposed fiscal year 2022 budget Wednesday, as the Commonwealth prepares to push through a pandemic and an economic crisis.

With businesses closed or restricted across much of the state, and most people at home, Gov. Baker said revenues are down significantly.

"Our new fiscal year 2022 tax revenue projections are basically about a billion dollars less than the original projections for fiscal 2021 that was announced pre-pandemic," Baker said. "Responding to this public health crisis has led to billions in unanticipated cost and expenses."

However, Gov. Baker said the FY 2022 budget proposal "does not raise taxes on the Commonwealth’s residents, and preserves substantial financial reserves for the future." The proposal instead recommends the state use $1.6 billion from the rainy day fund to balance the budget, which weighs in at $45.6 billion.

Baker's office said the withdrawal from that Stabilization Fund is projected to leave the fund with a balance of approximately $1.11 billion.

In Baker's budget proposal, $198 million would go towards local aid for schools, and MEMA's budget for Emergency Preparedness would be doubled too.

The proposal also includes $4 million for the Small Business Technical Assistance Grant Program for entrepreneurs and small businesses, especially those owned by women, immigrants, veterans, and people of color, and it provides $1 million for regional economic development grants.

Baker said there is also an extra funding recommendation aimed at increasing opportunities to train skilled workers.

"This budget includes a total investment of $16.9 million in additional funding for transforming vocational high schools into Career Technical Institutes and training 20,000 new workers in skilled trades and technical fields over four years," Baker said. "This initiative will increase student demand, involve businesses in program development and credentials, reduce barriers to licensure, and create incentives for completion and post-graduate employment."

When it comes to public health spending, Baker said his Administration has maintained a focus on the health and safety of Massachusetts residents throughout COVID-19, carrying out "a historic response" using emergency measures and funding to address a wide range of public health priorities.

"Critical initiatives associated with the ongoing response include infusing $1 billion through MassHealth to help stabilize health care providers, investing over $60 million in field hospitals and isolation and quarantine hotels, providing over $56 million to address food security, and distributing over 41 million pieces of PPE," Baker said.

The COVID-19 response is also being supported by the most recent federal COVID-19 legislation, which contains over $450 million for testing and tracing, and nearly $90 million for vaccine distribution efforts, the Governor said.

The budget recommendation also provides over $30 million to continue implementing the recommendations of the Black Advisory Commission and the Latino Advisory Commission, which would include support for initiatives including Adult Basic Education, YouthWorks Summer Jobs, early college, teacher diversity, small business development, financial literacy, and workforce training.

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said the proposal also increases the Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) investment by $39.5 million compared to the FY21 budget, which is consistent with the state's expected 3.5 percent growth in tax revenue.

Baker said the budget accounts for the "new challenges" caused by the pandemic for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, for those facing substance misuse issues, and for people experiencing homelessness.

The proposal recommends $96 million to continue addressing sexual assault and domestic violence issues, a 48 percent increase from FY15. It also proposes addressing substance misuses issues with a total investment of $357.3 million across a variety of state agencies, which is a $22.1 million, or 7 percent increase above the FY21 budget. The proposal also includes $195.9 million to fund the Emergency Assistance family shelter system, a $15 million, or 8 percent increase above the FY21 budget.

As outlined in his state of the Commonwealth, Gov. Baker said Massachusetts has to be ready for a different way of doing things post-pandemic.

Read the entire budget proposal here.

WBZ NewsRadio's Karyn Regal reports:

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Written by Brit Smith

(Photo: Getty Images)

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