On June 30th the Legislature enacted the state budget for the fiscal year starting July 1st 2014. While the Governor, House, and Senate had some different priorities and each introduced new initiatives, there was significantly more agreement throughout this year’s process than last year. With the limited revenue available, there was a consensus on the need to keep commitments made last year:
- to make needed investments in our transportation systems;
- to continue restoring some of the deep funding cuts made to the state’s higher education system during the 2000’s; and
- to fund reforms of the system for paying human service providers.
The final budget also reflects a shared commitment to begin to strengthen the capacity of the state Department of Children and Families and to make new investments in substance abuse treatment and prevention.
The Governor, House and Senate all opted against seeking the type of new tax revenue that could support long term investments to strengthen our economy, expand opportunity, and improve the quality of life in our communities. Such initiatives could include significantly expanding access to quality early education and improving K-12 education, and restoring more of the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been cut from local aid, public health, and higher education.
This conference committee assumed higher overall levels of non-tax revenue than either branch had projected and thus includes higher overall spending than the House or Senate had proposed. The budget also relies on a substantial amount of money from tax settlements and judgments that previously would have gone to the state’s rainy day fund. This policy change, adopted in some form by all three versions of the budget, is explained in the revenue section of this Budget Monitor.
In the sections that follow, this Monitor describes funding levels and initiatives throughout the state budget and compares them to years past.