BOSTON (State House News Service) — State lawmakers on Tuesday officially began their work on Gov. Charlie Baker's $44.6 billion budget proposal with the first of eight hearings on the governor's fiscal 2021 spending plan.
Ways and Means Committee Chairmen Sen. Michael Rodrigues and Rep. Aaron Michlewitz, in opening remarks, suggested areas that legislators may look to prioritize as they rework Baker's budget. Both pointed to the first year of implementation of a school funding law that calls for $1.5 billion in new K-12 education spending over the next seven years.
"Whether it is fully funding the Student Opportunity Act or providing in additional investments in higher education or mental health, we are focused on addressing many pressing issues before us," Rodrigues, a Westport Democrat, said.
Michlewitz, a Boston Democrat, also tapped implementation of the Student Opportunity Act as one of the challenges facing the state and its budget-writers, along with "a crumbling transportation system and a federal government that continues to be unpredictable and unreliable."
Administration and Finance Secretary Michael Heffernan told the committee that Baker's budget (H 2), which is based on a revenue estimate of $31.15 billion, includes $303.5 million in increased funding in Chapter 70 aid to K-12 schools, part of a total $355 million in new spending related to the new education law.
That money, Heffernan said, "will be accompanied by implementing proven strategies for student success in schools and districts across Massachusetts."
by Katie Lannan, State House News Service
(Photo: Getty Images)