Benson Focuses on Targeted Investments in Local Aid and Education for Fiscal Year 2016 Budget

(BOSTON) – The Massachusetts House of Representatives’ Ways and Means Committee (HWM) unveiled their $38 billion fiscal year 2016 (FY16) budget on Wednesday with targeted investments focused on local aid for schools, transportation infrastructure, and regional school transportation.

The House FY16 budget represents a 2.8 percent increase compared to the current fiscal year, with ample increases to Chapter 70 and Chapter 90 funds, as well as increases to unrestricted local aid. Compared to Governor Charlie Baker’s proposed budget, the House FY16 budget includes an additional $3 million for educational aid, an additional $13.3 million for regional school transportation, and an additional $34 million in unrestricted local aid. In total, the House FY16 budget provides for $25 of state funds per pupil, compared to $20 per pupil in Governor Baker’s proposed budget.

“This budget proves we can continue our commitment to providing local aid to our cities and towns, while still maintaining fiscal responsibility,” said State Representative Jennifer Benson. “While the HWM’s recommendations are thoughtful, and make strategic investments in key areas like education, I have also filed amendments to the budget that request a 75% reimbursement rate for regional school districts’ transportation costs, regional bonus aid, and additional investments in after school programs, among others. I am looking forward to the House budget debate.”

Other highlights from the House budget include an additional $17.3 million for the trial court system, an additional $10 million for the treatment and prevention of substance abuse, and an additional $15 million for mental health services. The budget also increases the Department of Transportation’s budget by $70 million, and puts in place reforms to improve the quality, and lower the cost of MBTA services.

Members of the House had to submit their amendment proposals to the HWM’s FY16 budget recommendations by April 17, and will begin the House budget debate on April 27.