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The 190th General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

FY 2017 Budget House Ways & Means Budget

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The House Committee on Ways and Means examines the Governor's Proposal and releases its own recommmendations for the annual budget for deliberation by the House of Representatives. Prior to release of the House Ways and Means Budget, Joint Ways and Means Committee budget hearings are held across the state.

Photo of  Brian S. Dempsey  
House Ways and Means Chair

Dear Visitor:

Welcome to the Massachusetts House of Representatives Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Web Site. On this page you will find information and documents related to the House Ways and Means Budget and full text of all Amendments offered by Representatives to the budget document.  You can access this information on April 13, 2016, after 1:00 p.m. by clicking on the associated links below. Thank you for visiting this page, and please check back often!                                            

Letterhead of The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, House of Representatives, Committee on Ways and Means, Chairman Brian S. Dempsey

April 13, 2016
To the Members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives:
With this document the House Committee on Ways and Means presents its recommendations for the Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17) General Appropriations Act. The Committee’s proposal builds on significant investments that have been made in recent years to the programs and services our constituents value, while also maintaining the fiscal discipline necessary to ensure the Commonwealth is prepared for any financial uncertainty. This budget demonstrates our shared priorities and vision for Massachusetts as a national leader.

Once again, under the leadership of Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, this is a budget that contains no new taxes or increased fees on the citizens of the Commonwealth. This budget also reduces our reliance on one-time revenue sources and notably, for the second consecutive year, does not withdraw any resources from the State’s stabilization account. Perhaps even more importantly, this budget certifies that at a minimum, over $210 million will be deposited into the stabilization account. This will ensure that our “Rainy Day” fund remains at over $1.47 billion, an important factor in maintaining our already strong credit outlook.

The House Ways and Means budget demonstrates our strong partnership with the cities and towns we represent by delivering historically high levels of local aid, a commitment of $159 million in new funding. This budget includes a $42.1 million increase to Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) and a $105.7 million dollar increase to Chapter 70 education aid. The increase to Chapter 70 guarantees that every school district will receive $55 per pupil in FY17, more than doubling the FY16 amount of per pupil aid. The proposed budget also maintains full funding of the state’s share of the Special Education Circuit Breaker and increases our investment in Regional School Transportation and Charter Schools.

Additionally, the FY17 Committee budget continues to prioritize funding for quality early education. It provides for a $10 million rate reserve to ensure that early education providers can hire and retain high quality staff. Furthermore, it includes a newly created quality supports account, funded at $31.5 million, giving the department improved ability to make targeted grants to support and encourage quality based programming.

Recognizing that a highly skilled workforce will be key to unlocking future economic development opportunities and job growth, this budget furthers Speaker DeLeo’s vision to expand access to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) curriculum for students across the Commonwealth. The proposal devotes $9 million in STEM specific funding. These investments include $4.8 million for STEM starter academies which work to improve student performance in STEM subjects and connect students with STEM fields of employment, and $2.7 million to increase student participation and performance in AP math and science courses in underperforming school districts.

Combatting opiate abuse has been a major priority of the House of Representatives this legislative session and this budget builds on the 65% increase in funding for services and treatment since FY12. Included is a 13.5% increase in the statewide number of transitional support services beds and provides supportive case management services to an additional 500 clients per year. These amplified resources will help to ensure a continuum of care for those residents of our Commonwealth struggling with opiate abuse.

The House Ways and Means Budget is committed to protecting the programs and services that ensure a positive quality of life for our most vulnerable constituents. This budget guarantees that there will be no change in benefits for any transitional assistance recipient, supports the hiring of 281 new social workers and case managers at the Department of Children and Families, and provides a $5 million increase at the Department of Developmental Services to support an additional 3,000 families that care for loved ones who are disabled and living at home with flexible supports. Additionally included is an increase in the grants to Councils on Aging to $10 per senior, and new resources to the Department of Environmental Protection for water quality testing and monitoring. The Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) will build on the more than 300% increase in funding it has received since FY10 with $100 million in funding and 375 new vouchers this fiscal year.

I would like to thank the members of the House Committee on Ways and Means for their input and guidance during the development of this budget. I extend a special thank you to our Vice-Chair, Representative Stephen Kulik of Worthington, and our Assistant Vice-Chair, Representative Benjamin Swan of Springfield for their advice and assistance in crafting this proposal.

I look forward to working closely with all the members of the House of Representatives in the upcoming debate. I know that we will work together to produce a budget that is both fiscally responsible and promotes our shared vision for our constituents and our Commonwealth.

Brian S. Dempsey
Brian S. Dempsey


Financial Overview
The House Committee on Ways and Means Fiscal Year 2017 budget lays out a blueprint to reinforce the Commonwealth’s strong financial position and supports continued investments in areas most critical to government’s core functions. This balanced budget protects the services for our most vulnerable residents, invests in growing the Massachusetts economy, ensures every child has access to quality schools, and supports the health and wellness of our citizens.
Since the Great Recession, the Committee has remained steadfast in its role as fiscal stewards for the Commonwealth’s resources. That responsibility has paid dividends, as we are making progress on our long term liabilities, maintaining our strong credit rating, and investing in the future for the residents of the Commonwealth. The Committee proposes to further these goals in the FY 2017 House Ways and Means budget recommendations by making new investments in Education, Local Aid, Substance Abuse, and Healthcare.
The Committee’s budget proposes an overall level of spending of $39.483B, a $1.34B or 3.5% increase over the FY 2016 state budget. Increased support for Health Care expenses, State pension obligations, the MBTA, and other non-discretionary items accounts for the majority of this new spending. New discretionary funds for the remaining operations and services provided by state departments and agencies are limited to $385M, or 1%, requiring the Committee to make smart and targeted investments with limited resources.
During the Consensus Revenue process, economists, the Legislature and the Executive Office of Administration and Finance estimated next year’s tax revenue growth at $1.109B, or 4.3%. The Committee’s proposal also relies on an additional non-tax revenue from departmental sources, federal reimbursements, and operating transfers. The use of one-time resources, while essential to maintain adequate levels of services, is a practice we are committed to reducing and eliminating over time. In continuing that commitment we rely on $253M of one-time revenue, about $350M less than FY2016.
Understanding that the Commonwealth’s ability to provide services to the residents of Massachusetts relies on our strong financial position, the Committee does not recommend a draw from the stabilization fund, and instead dedicates a substantial investment into the State’s “Rainy Day” fund. The Committee proposes to increase the stabilization fund by over $210M or 16%, to a total of $1.470B, which will help the Commonwealth stay prepared for any fiscal uncertainty. The funding and initiatives proposed in this budget will further Massachusetts’ inherent strengths and ensure that the Commonwealth is serving all of its residents in a responsible manner.
Local Aid
The House Committee on Ways and Means recognizes the partnership between the state and municipalities in delivering vital services to the residents of the Commonwealth, especially public education. Chapter 70 is the most significant source of school funding and in FY 2017 the Committee’s budget proposal increases Chapter 70 aid by $95.8M to a total of $4.6B. This includes a guaranteed minimum aid increase to each community of $55 per pupil, which is more than double the fiscal year 2016 amount. Understanding that municipalities rely on local aid to provide important town services, Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) is increased by $42.1M, reflecting a 4.3% growth over FY 2016. The Committee also dedicates additional resources for a number of key municipal accounts. The proposed budget boosts funding for Special Education Circuit Breaker by $5M, for Charter School Reimbursements by $5M, and for regional school transportation by $1M. With this combined $159M increase the state is providing a historic level of local aid to all 351 cities and town of Massachusetts in FY 2017.
  • Provides $4.608B for Chapter 70 aid
  • Provides $1.022B for UGGA
  • Provides $276.6M for Circuit Breaker reimbursement
  • Provides $85.5M for Charter School reimbursement
Early Education and Care
The Department of Early Education and Care is responsible for providing high-quality and far-reaching care throughout the Commonwealth for the youngest and most vulnerable children. The Department provides funding for the care of thousands of children, and works to ensure that those from the poorest backgrounds have access to child care. The House Committee on Ways and Means budget proposal upholds this commitment to access and prioritizes new investments focused on high quality care. This includes devoting $10M to a salary reserve to increase rates for early education providers and consolidating all quality related programmatic spending into a single account.  This consolidation will allow the Department to best leverage $31.5M in state funds to make the most impactful investments and improve quality.
  • Provides $228.4M to fund childcare for children referred by the Department of Children and Families and the Department of Transitional Assistance
  • Provides $252.5M for childcare for over 35,000 children from income-eligible families in the Commonwealth
  • Provides $10M for a salary rate reserve to increase provider salaries
Elementary and Secondary Education
A paramount responsibility of any government is to assure its citizens of a high-quality public education that provides the building blocks for a successful future. The House Committee on Ways and Means budget supports the mission of the department by making important investments in key areas, including Chapter 70 aid, special education, kindergarten expansion, student transportation, and METCO. Furthermore, the Committee’s budget supports a number of grant programs that target the most at-risk students while continuing important efforts in closing the achievement gap.
  • Provides $4.608B in Chapter 70 aid, including 70% effort reduction and a $55 per pupil minimum aid increase
  • Provides $276.6M for Circuit Breaker Special Education reimbursement
  • Provides $60M in Regional School Transportation reimbursement
  • Provides $18.6M for Kindergarten Expansion grants
Higher Education
Providing students access to high quality and affordable higher education is essential to ensuring Massachusetts is prepared for the future. To this end, the House Committee on Ways and Means budget proposal supports and expands recent investments for the state’s community colleges, state universities, and University of Massachusetts system. This new funding is distributed on the basis of data-driven performance outcomes that ensure the campuses are delivering a world-class education in the most efficient way possible. In addition, the Committee provides funding for the state’s scholarship programs, including the MassGrants program and high demand scholarships. The Committee also targets funding for programs that reach out to prospective college students, such as the dual enrollment program and the STEM Starter Academies.
  • Provides $508.3M for the University of Massachusetts system
  • Provides $269.6M for community colleges and $247.8M for state universities
  • Provides $96.6M for the State Scholarship program
  • Provides $4.8M for the STEM Starter Academies
Board of Library Commissioners
The Board of Library Commissioners has the responsibility to organize, develop, coordinate, and improve library services throughout the Commonwealth. The Commission provides several programs that aid in strengthening the state’s free public libraries as well as providing library services to all residents. Recognizing the importance of local libraries as a center for information, arts, and civic life for communities, the Committee continues its support for libraries and the many services they provide.
  • Provides $9.9M to State Aid To Regional Public Libraries
  • Provides $9M for Municipal Libraries
The Judiciary is responsible for adhering to and upholding the Massachusetts General Laws as well as laws put in place by the Constitution of the United States. The House Committee on Ways and Means continues to support the Judicial branch by ensuring every citizen has access to justice, through the court system. The Committee’s proposal furthers this mission by providing a $1M increase to civil legal aid for those in need, and a $2.8M increase to expand specialty court sessions across the Commonwealth. The Committee’s budget recommendation continues to recognize the importance of maintaining justice for all citizens of the Commonwealth while fulfilling the judicial and constitutional obligations of the state of Massachusetts.
  • Provides $639.8M for the Trial Court, including $6M for Specialty Courts
  • Provides $172.7M for the Committee on Public Counsel Services
  • Provides $18M for Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation
  • Provides $13.1M for the Appeals Court
  • Provides $8.8M for the Supreme Judicial Court
Administration and Finance
The agencies under the Executive Office for Administration and Finance are responsible for executing fiscal and administrative policies, enforcing the tax laws, providing health insurance for municipal and state employees, and the procurement of the physical and technological necessities for state agencies. Together these services help to ensure that state government is effective and efficient.  The House Committee on Ways and Means budget proposal empowers and supports these agencies in carrying out their operations.
  • Provides $165M for the Massachusetts Office of Information Technology
  • Provides $100.3M for the Human Resources Division
  • Provides $21.2M for the Operational Services Division
The Department of Transportation is critical to the success and efficiency of our state. It serves as a key factor in the Commonwealth’s ability to remain at the forefront of economic opportunity. It is essential that the transportation system provides a safe, dependable, and reliable commute for all consumers. The House Committee on Ways and Means budget recommendation enables the Department to meet the increasing demand for public transportation and provides them with the ability to maintain and improve core services.
  • Provides $327.7M for MassDOT
  • Provides $187M for the MBTA
  • Provides $80M for the Regional Transit Authorities
Energy and Environment
From the Berkshires to Cape Cod, Massachusetts has an array of open space, working landscapes, and natural resources. Preserving and protecting these lands and waters while providing opportunities for outdoor recreation and access to parks, beaches, and farms is an important mission of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. The House Committee on Ways and Means renews its support to these vital services while also protecting the health and safety of the Commonwealth’s residents.
  • Provides $83.7M for the Department of Conservation and Recreation
  • Provides $51.3M for the Department of Environmental Protection
  • Provides $22.1M for the Department of Agriculture, including the Massachusetts Emergency Food Assistance Program, which will provide 20M meals in FY 2017
Health and Human Services
As the largest Secretariat, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services provides a wide array of services including health care coverage to low income citizens, temporary assistance to needy families, assisting disabled individuals, protecting the welfare of vulnerable children, providing benefits to our veterans, supporting our senior citizens, and promoting wellness and health equity for all people in the Commonwealth. The FY 2017 House Committee on Ways and Means proposal balances fiscal responsibility while maintaining the existing level of high quality services.
The House Committee on Ways and Means budget proposal includes $15.4B for MassHealth programs, which will provide coverage to millions of members. This funding level limits spending growth to 5%, while maintaining member benefits and eligibility.  This budget proposal supports enhancements to the eligibility systems, caseload management and program integrity efforts, especially in the area of long term care, which ensures that our significant investments are being well spent, which is crucial to providing healthcare to some of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable residents.
Department of Public Health
The Department of Public Health works to ensure citizens of the Commonwealth enjoy the highest quality of life possible. The Department aims to achieve health equity and wellness by providing a network of public health hospitals, as well as substance abuse services, domestic violence services, and HIV/AIDS prevention services. For FY 2017, the House Committee on Ways and Means proposal builds on recent investments and supports programs helping to prevent opiate abuse and foster recovery. The proposal adds 150 new residential recovery beds and allocates $2M specifically for 46 new transitional support services beds. 
  • Provides $157.7M for Lemuel Shattuck Hospital, Mass Hospital School, and Tewksbury Hospital
  • Provides $126.6M for the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services to add 150 residential recovery and 46 transitional support beds to fight opioid addiction in Massachusetts
  • Provides $32.9M for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment to reduce the number of HIV infections
  • Provides $27.4M for Early Intervention Services to increase positive developmental outcomes for infants with potential developmental delays
Department of Children and Families
The Department of Children and Families, through family support and stabilization services, foster care and guardianship services, promotes and ensures the safety of children in the Commonwealth and strives to protect them from abuse and neglect. The House Committee on Ways and Means recognizes the complexity of the work, and recommends $23M in increased funding for the Department. This funding will annualize and increase staffing levels and programs designed to produce strong families and keep children safe.
  • Provides $282.8M for Stabilization, Reunification, Foster Care, and Permanency Services
  • Provides $265.1M for Group Care Services
  • Provides $46.9M for Family Support and Stabilization Services
  • Provides $7.4M for Family Resource Centers
Department of Youth Services
The Massachusetts Department of Youth Services is charged with rehabilitating youths through a continuum model of services and supervision. The House Committee on Ways and Means budget proposal understands the importance of instilling positive change through education and skill development for the youths in the Department’s care.  As part of their core mission the Department will continue to operate effective programs by partnering with communities, families, and other government programs to prevent youth crime and protect the public.
  • Provides $116.4M for Committed Residential Youth
  • Provides $27.1M for Pre-Trial Detention Programs
  • Provides $23.2M for Non-Residential, Community-Based Programs
  • Provides $3.2M for Enhanced Teacher Salaries
  • Provides $2.3M for the Alternative Lockup Program
Department of Mental Health
The Department of Mental Health aims to assure each citizen affected by mental illness is provided with adequate supports and services to enable individuals to live, work, and participate in their communities. The House Committee on Ways and Means budget recommendation focuses on maintaining community support and placements for the individuals which the Department serves. The Committee also supports the Commonwealth’s commitment to combating substance abuse by completing the annualization of 45 beds at Taunton State Hospital for women battling addiction in the Commonwealth. 
  • Provides $382.7M for Adult Community Mental Health Services
  • Provides $205.8M for State Psychiatric Hospitals to complete the annualization of 45 beds for the Women’s Substance Use program at Taunton State Hospital
  • Provides $88M for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, including $3.6M for the Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Project
Department of Developmental Services
The Department of Developmental Services aims to provide the opportunity for adults and children with developmental disabilities to have meaningful participation in their communities.  The House Committee on Ways and Means continues to advocate for the integration of individuals with developmental disabilities within their given communities, while also being cared for by loving family.  The Committee’s recommendations expands access to Respite and Adult Family Supports by $5M in acknowledgement of the myriad of benefits that come from allowing individuals to remain in their own homes. 
  • Provides $62.7M for Adult Family Supports Transitional Assistance
  • Provides $192.2M for Community Based Adult Day and Work Programs
  • Provides $1.1B for Vendor Operated Residential Services
Department of Transitional Assistance
The Department of Transitional Assistance assists economically disadvantaged individuals and families of the Commonwealth and puts them on a path towards a better quality of life. Through programs that enable access to food and nutritional assistance, employment services and cash benefit programs, the Department is able to strengthen these individuals and families. The Committee’s proposal preserves all existing benefit eligibilities and seeks to maintain an appropriate level of services for those most in need. 
  • Provides $203.9M for Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children Grant Payments, which provides cash assistance to eligible families in need
  • Provides $79.2M for the Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children program
  • Provides $10M for the Teen Structured Settings Program, which assists low-income teen parents in the Commonwealth
Veterans’ Affairs
Protecting and defending the Commonwealth and the nation is a sacrifice that veterans and their families make every day. The critical programs that serve the veterans once they return home include education, housing, employment and training, health and well-being, as well as cash and annuity payments. The House Committee on Ways and Means thanks the men and women who have served in protecting our freedom and continues our commitment to support these brave citizens. 
  • Provides $77.4M for Veterans Benefit Payments
  • Provides $51.7M for Soldiers’ Homes in Chelsea and Holyoke
  • Provides $2.9M for Veterans’ Homeless Shelters
  • Provides $3.1M for Veteran’ Outreach Centers
Department of Elder Affairs
The Department of Elder Affairs serves the elders community in the Commonwealth by providing services such as home care and caregiver support, nutrition programs, and protective services programs that are provided through a network of Aging Service Access Points and Councils on Aging across the state. The House Committee on Ways and Means understands the changing demographics of Massachusetts and the importance of supporting the growing number of seniors. Therefore, Committee’s budget recommendation, for the second year in a row, increases the Formula Grant from $9 per elder per year, to $10 per elder per year, a $1.3M investment. 
  • Provides $101.5M for the Elder Home Care Purchased Services Program
  • Provides $74.3M for the Elder Enhanced Home Care Services Program
  • Provides $14.1M for the Grants to Councils on Aging
  • Provides $5.7M for the Supportive Senior Housing Program
Housing and Community Development
Helping families and individuals attain safe, decent, and affordable housing opportunities is the core mission of the Department of Housing and Community Development. The House Committee on Ways and Means budget recommendation preserves existing eligibility requirements for shelter while also maintaining the substantial investments made to the homelessness prevention programs administered by the Department. In addition, the Committee once again recommends an increase to the already historic funding levels for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program. These new funds will bring the investment in the program to $100M and will allow for 375 additional vouchers to be issued to homeless families, individuals, and veterans. 
  • Provides $100M for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program
  • Provides $65.5M for Public Housing Authorities
  • Provides $31.9M for the HomeBASE Program
  • Provides $12.5M for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition Program
  • Provides $2.6M for Housing Consumer Education Centers
Economic Development
The Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development strives to stimulate sustainable economic growth throughout the Commonwealth. The House Committee on Ways and Means budget recommendation seeks to assist the Secretariat in achieving this goal by making investments in small businesses and technological innovations, ensuring a fair and competitive business environment, and by nurturing the economic development of urban areas. In addition, the Committee recognizes and supports tourism as a key player of the Massachusetts economy by providing funds to the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism and the 16 Regional Tourist Councils to attract domestic and international tourists to the Commonwealth’s cities, towns, and historic sites.
  • Provides $6M for Regional Tourist Councils Assistance
  • Provides $4.3M for the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism
  • Provides $3M for the Urban Agenda Economic Development Grant Program
  • Provides $2M for Small Business Technical Assistance Grants
  • Provides $2M for the Big Data Innovation and Workforce Fund
  • Provides $1.5M for the Massachusetts Office of Business Development
  • Provides $1.2M for the Small Business Development Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Provides $1M for the Transformative Development Fund
Labor and Workforce Development
The Office of Labor and Workforce Development is comprised of five offices with the common goal of helping residents of Massachusetts navigate the labor market. The Offices focus on workforce training and education, while also providing services and resources to the unemployed.  In addition to these services, the Offices also seek to ensure a safe, healthy, and fair working environment for all. The House Committee on Ways and Means supports these efforts to create a strong workforce for the Commonwealth.
  • Provides $9M for Summer Jobs for At Risk Youth
  • Provides $4M for One Stop Career Centers
  • Provides $2.5M for the Department of Labor Relations
  • Provides $1.3M for the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership
Public Safety & Security
The House Ways and Means Committee budget recommendation supports funding to the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security agencies as well as the Sheriffs’ Departments and other public safety entities. The Committee’s recommendation will allow them to continue or expand upon the vital services that they provide to the people of the Commonwealth. These agencies provide a variety of services including promoting public safety, preparing offenders for successful reentry into society, enforcing state laws, and safety preparedness. Through targeted investment in a fiscally prudent manner, the Committee’s budget recommendation recognizes the importance of ensuring the safety and security of every person of the Commonwealth.
  • Provides $607.5M for the Department of Correction
  • Provides $573.9M for the Sheriffs’ Departments
  • Provides $378.9M for the Department of State Police, which includes 150 new graduates
  • Provides $2.5M for a new Community-Based Policing Grant to address substance abuse and promote other community engagement programs