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Publications from before 2018
In a quiet three days of debate, the House made few changes to the budget drafted by the House Ways and Means Committee. Many of the funding increases approved just restored funding that the HWM Committee had proposed cutting. This Monitor describes the amendments adopted in each area of the budget and discusses how proposed funding levels compare to the Governor’s proposals and to historic levels.
The state earned income tax credit (EITC) helps providing a meaningful boost to the after-tax earnings of thousands of low-income working families. This Facts-At-A-Glance provides town-by-town estimates of tax filers who received the state EITC in 2013.
Children have a better chance to succeed in school when they receive individualized support and attention. Smaller class sizes are one way to help our teachers meet the needs of each child. This paper examines the evidence on how class size reductions can improve outcomes and expand opportunity for all of our children, particularly those who face the greatest obstacles.
The HWM budget for FY 2016 recommends targeted investments in some important areas including early education and care, affordable housing, and opiate abuse prevention and treatment. The proposal also includes new cuts to some important programs including workforce training for low income parents and youth jobs and violence prevention efforts. Read this Budget Monitor for more detail.
In releasing his budget proposal on Wednesday, March 4, 2015 the Governor identified important priorities: “creating better communities, better schools, and better jobs for all of Massachusetts.” This budget does not, however, propose the types of significant investments in these areas that could make a meaningful difference in the lives of working people across the state. The Governor did file a tax reform proposal along with the budget that would significantly help lower-wage working people across the state: a doubling of the state earned income tax credit.
This report provides an overview of what the state has and has not been doing to provide the support low income parents need to succeed in the workforce. While Massachusetts increased some investments after the welfare reforms of the mid-1990s, there have been deep cuts and chronic underfunding since then.
The number of children living in poverty in Massachusetts would be twice as high as it is if low income families did not receive help from effective anti-poverty programs such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly called food stamps), WIC nutrition programs, and the Child Tax Credit.
For an overview of what’s working, what’s holding back progress, and how to fix what’s broken, check out this infographic.
Taxes are the primary way we pay for the things that we do together through government. As this Facts-At-A-Glance details, overall, the Massachusetts tax system is regressive, collecting a larger share of household income from lower-income households than it does from upper-income households.
Maintenance budgets are estimates of what it would take for the state to maintain services at the same level as prior years. These budgets are also often called current services baselines, as they allow comparison of budget proposals to the baseline of what is currently provided. Maintenance budgets are the first step in our state’s budget process, but they are rarely made public in a standard way.
As the FY 2016 budget season begins, the Commonwealth continues to suffer from the effects of the three billion dollars of income tax cuts enacted over a decade ago. As a result of those tax cuts, the state has been forced to make deep cuts to important public services. Even with those budget cuts, the state continues to face budget gaps at the start of each year’s budget process. This preview describes the state’s fiscal condition as the budget season begins.
Beginning in 1998, a number of significant changes were made to the Massachusetts tax code–including a series of phased cuts to the state personal income tax. These cuts have reduced our capacity to fund essential services.
Overall, the level of taxation in Massachusetts is in the middle of the pack when compared to the rest of the country. The Taxachusetts label is a legacy of the 1970s – and at that time the label had a basis in reality. Since the late 1970s, tax policy in the Commonwealth has changed dramatically, as described in this Facts-At-A-Glance.
This Facts-At-A-Glance describes a recent US Census report that compares how much is collected in taxes in each state to help pay for all those things we do through government. It finds that Massachusetts ranks in the middle of the pack.
The Governor recently announced the need to cut funding for school transportation, job training, health care, and other investments that protect the health of our people and our economy. One of the reasons for these cuts is the triggering of an automatic tax cut caused by a twelve year old law. This tax cut, which primarily benefits the highest income taxpayers, will cost the Commonwealth $140 million a year. It is part of a series of automatic income tax rate cuts that together will cost the Commonwealth $350 million this year.
This brief describes the “net” cost of MassHealth, providing a much clearer picture of the impact of MassHealth on the state budget rather than looking at gross state budget totals alone.
Increased learning time can be an effective tool for providing more of our young people with improved, more well-rounded education – but only if it’s done right. This paper examines which strategies have proven most effective in implementing longer school days, quality after school services, and summer learning opportunities. The report also estimates what it costs to provide a few model programs.
This report traces economic and policy changes since the launch of the Great Society, and how these changes have affected the lives of children and adults at all income levels in Massachusetts.
Family Ties: Exploring Massachusetts’ use of Kinship Foster Care for Children in the Child Welfare System
When we don’t give children the best opportunity for healthy growth and development, we put their future – and our future as a Commonwealth – at risk. Fortunately, we know that children are most likely to thrive if they live in stable and loving homes; and that their outcomes will be even better if these homes are familiar to them. Research has shown that placing children with “kin” – other family members or close friends – is often better than putting them in a stranger’s foster home or a group home.
To protect their physical and economic security, survivors of domestic and sexual violence sometimes need to take time off from work to address health and safety issues. Many employers provide “safe time” leave for such employees and Earned Paid Sick Time laws in several cities and states give employees the right to take safe time when needed. This fact sheet examines these policies and also provides a description of state programs that assist these survivors.
Policies that affect the health of individuals also affect the health of the community. MassBudget’s new fact sheet Earned Paid Sick Time: Supporting Healthy, Thriving Communities examines the effects on the general public, families, and the workplace when sick workers can’t stay home from work.
Access to earned paid sick time improves the economic security of working people and families in communities in every region of our Commonwealth. This fact sheet provides data on the percentage of the workforce that currently lacks earned paid sick time in different cities and towns.
The economic security of working families depends on reliable access to opportunities that offer good incomes and that allow workers to share in the benefits of economic growth. Unfortunately, data made available today by the U.S. Census Bureau show that four years into an economic recovery many working families across the nation and in Massachusetts have seen only very modest gains.
Almost everyone in Massachusetts has insurance to help pay for needed health care, thanks to the continued success of state and national health reform efforts. Massachusetts continues to lead the nation when it comes to health insurance coverage, according to data released today by the Census Bureau from its American Community Survey (ACS)
Many workers are responsible for caring for a family. They face daily challenges of being both good parents and hard-working, effective employees. In recent decades, more and more children are growing up in families where all the adults work. Yet, some of our employment policies do not reflect this modern reality. This brief examines challenges faced by working families and the role that earned paid sick time can play in helping families meet those challenges. It also describes the effect of such laws on businesses and the broader economy.
This budget brief summarizes the Fiscal Year 2015 budget for MassHealth and Health Reform Programs. The FY 2015 MassHealth budget covers the first full year of implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act. More than half of this funding will be reimbursed by the federal government.
“Labor Day 2014” examines trends that are shaping the economic lives of working people in Massachusetts and describes effective policies that could move our Commonwealth towards a future with greater economic opportunity and security for all.
To help children overcome non-academic barriers to success, a number of districts across the country have implemented wraparound services in their schools. Recent research shows that these programs can improve both the academic and life success of the students who are served. This report examines evidence on the effectiveness of these programs, describes progress being made in Massachusetts, and estimates costs for implementing evidence-based practices more widely.
At some point in their lives, all workers experience a personal health issue or family illness. Yet in Massachusetts, as in most states, if you are sick and have to miss work, not only can you miss a day's worth of pay, but you can also get fired. In order to better address these issues, a growing number of cities and one state have passed earned paid sick time laws. Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about this important issue.