FY2012 Budget Still Not Finished, Governor to File Interim Budget
With less than a week before the new fiscal year begins, the six-member conference committee that is tasked with reconciling the House and Senate versions of the FY2012 $30.5 billion state budget still have not reached an agreement. Although the Senate held a Friday session in the event that an agreement was reached and filed with the Legislature by Thursday night, the House on Thursday adjourned for the week, precluding any chance of the Legislature passing a budget before the weekend. Under the Massachusetts Constitution, the Governor is granted 10 days to review a bill after the Legislature passes a bill and sends it to him for consideration. Although details of the negotiations have not been made public, the House and Senate budgets differed significantly on issues such as municipal health care reform, pharmaceutical gift ban repeal, the use of electro-shock therapy on disabled children and illegal immigration. Larger issues are also being debated such as adding money to the rainy day fund and whether to include an automatic rollback of the state’s income tax.
While the budget conference committee continues its deliberations, Governor Patrick intends to file a temporary $1.25 billion 10-day budget. According to Secretary of Administration and Finance Jay Gonzales, the interim budget will be filed today in order to avoid payment disruptions after July 1st assuming a full year budget is not in place.
Governor Patrick Signs Storm Relief Bill
On Tuesday, Governor Patrick signed a $54 million tornado relief bill. The bill allocates $15 million to pay for emergency response, cleanup, shelter expenditures and other assistance related to the tornadoes. It also allows Western Massachusetts municipalities to execute short-term borrowing for emergencies without legislative approval and enables cities and towns to assess FY2012 property taxes based on the damaged conditions of properties.
Massachusetts Unemployment Rates Up in Parts of State, Down in Others
The unadjusted unemployment figures for labor markets across the state were released this week. The data showed that the unemployment rate increased in eight areas, decreased in another eight, and were unchanged in the remaining six labor markets. The new statistics show that the jobless rate was up geographic areas including Boston, Cambridge and Quincy. Lawrence-Methuen-Salem and Fall River had the highest unemployment rates in the state, at 11.4%.
Tax Collection Figures For First Half of June Up 9.3%
This week the Massachusetts Department of Revenue released the tax collection figures for the first 17 days of June. Tax revenues for this period were $54 million above state budget benchmarks. The state collected $1.2 billion in taxes during the month, a 9.3% increase compared to the same period in June 2010. According to Navjeet Bal, the state revenue commissioner, the gains were due to estimated payments that residents paid with their income tax returns and increased sales tax revenue.
John Nunnari, Assoc AIA
Executive Director, AIA MA
MA Chapter of American Institute of Architects
The Architects Building
52 Broad Street, Boston MA 02109-4301