Gov. Charlie Baker delivers his final State of the Commonwealth address from the Hynes Convention Center in January 2022. Photo by Chris Van Buskirk | State House News Service

With tax collections running nearly $1.5 billion ahead of expectations, Gov. Charlie Baker filed a spending bill on Friday that seeks to spend $1.6 billion in state funds to keep COVID-19 response efforts going and to invest in stressed sectors, like child care and human services.

The supplemental budget would allocate $2.4 billion total, but federal funding and reimbursements would reduce the state’s total to $1.6 billion, Baker’s office said. The bill includes $700 million dedicated to the COVID-19 public health response (rapid tests and surveillance testing in congregate care settings, maintaining vaccination sites, providing monoclonal antibody treatments and more), $450 million to extend Commonwealth Cares for Children (C3) stabilization grants for child care providers through fiscal year 2023, $401 million worth of rate enhancements for human service providers, and $140 million for special education schools to address staffing needs.

“Massachusetts remains in a strong fiscal position, which enables us to use surplus Fiscal Year 2022 revenues to sustain our efforts to respond to COVID-19 and invest in areas like early education, human services, housing and more,” Baker said. “Thanks to our careful management of state finances in partnership with the Legislature and the resilience of our economy, revenues continue to exceed projections, making Massachusetts well-positioned to make these investments.”

After raising its expected fiscal 2022 tax collection target by $1.5 billion in January, the Department of Revenue reported earlier this month that collections are running $1.45 billion above the revised targets. Even after backing out what could be a temporary revenue bump, the state is running $794 million ahead of benchmarks. Baker has also pointed to the state’s strong revenue performance as a reason the Legislature should pass his suite of tax relief proposals, which are up for a hearing Tuesday.

Baker’s newest budget bill would dole out an additional $100 million in Chapter 90 funding that cities and towns rely upon for road projects, $100 million to help municipalities repair roads from winter damage and $150 million in supplemental grants to fund climate change resiliency initiatives, including through the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program.

On the policy side of things, Baker is proposing to exempt payments from the state’s COVID-19 Essential Employee Premium Pay program from the Massachusetts income tax, to mandate the appointment of a guardian ad litem in every alleged child abuse or neglect case through the Juvenile Court, and to extend certain COVID-19 state of emergency provisions, including the eviction protection provision that is currently set to expire on April 1. Baker’s budget bill would extend that to Jan. 1, 2023.

COVID Response, Child Care Anchor Baker’s $2.4 Bil Spending Bill

by State House News Service time to read: 2 min