Differences between the Senate and House budgets for FY 2019
The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center's latest Budget Browser highlights several of the substantial differences between the House and Senate budgets that the Legislature's Conference Committee will have to reconcile.
- Education. Both branches made targeted new investments in education: the House proposed larger investments in early education and care, focused on quality, and the Senate proposed greater funding for local K-12 public schools. Neither branch proposed significant increases in higher education funding, continuing a pattern that has led to rising student costs and debt. The Senate includes a new provision, prompted by the sudden Mount Ida College closure, that requires a college to give 120 days' notice to the Board of Higher Education (BHE) if it plans to shut down.
- Housing. The House proposes $5.0 million for a new program to provide flexible funding to help individuals who are homeless to move into housing and $100.0 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP), $2.5 million more than the Senate. But the House provides significantly less funding than the Senate for the Emergency Assistance account that provides shelter for low-income homeless families. The Senate creates a new $2.7 million program to retrofit or create affordable housing for renters with disabilities. The Senate also proposes increases in Registry of Deeds fees to provide additional funding for the Community Preservation Act Trust Fund, which helps towns fund affordable housing, open space, and historic preservation.
- Health Care. The Senate budget includes a proposal-similar to one introduced by the Governor-to control costs of pharmaceuticals. It would allow the state to negotiate drug prices directly with manufacturers to obtain rebates for prescription drugs. The state could also impose a penalty against the manufacturer if the manufacturer were not to agree to a rebate and if the Administration were to find the manufacturer's prices excessive. The House budget includes more funding than the Senate's for pediatric hospitals, and for adult foster care and adult day health rates.
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