BOSTON, MA – The House Ways and Means Committee is rapidly making progress in developing the Fiscal Year 2018 budget for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the state government related programs.
Since the members of Ways and Means were assigned their positions on the committee for this legislative session, the committee has met for hearings in Beverly, Boston, Everett, Roxbury and Worcester, hearing testimony from a number of state elected officials, agencies and organizations. These groups include the Lieutenant Governor, the Inspector General, the Executive Office for Administration and Finance, the Department of Business Development, and the Department of Environmental protection, among many others. Each of these individuals and organizations have all stepped forward to testify on their budget needs, revenue projections, and improvements to programs over the last fiscal year.
“This is a great opportunity for us in the legislature to hear what these groups have and have not accomplished over the past year,” said Representative Miceli upon the conclusion of the Beverly hearing, which focused on the topics of energy, the environment and transportation services. “Today I heard about gains the Commonwealth has made in renewable energy, an up-to-date view on the Solar Cap, and how the state will need to address the energy deficit from the upcoming closure of the Pilgrim Nuclear power plant in Plymouth.”
“These meetings are more than budget projections,” continued Miceli. “They give us a venue to ask a wide variety of questions to the commissioners themselves, and a lot of important information that the Committee we will use to inform the decisions we will make between now and our goal of mid-April for our budget’s release.”
At the hearing which took place at Endicott College in Beverly, Representative Miceli took one of these aforementioned opportunities to interact with commissioners of important state agencies directly, asking Commissioner Suuberg of the Department of Environmental Protection to have the DEP take a more active role in the monitoring of the proposed Transrail location in Wilmington, MA in order to best prevent an environmental catastrophe.
Commissioner Suuberg responded, “I’m well aware of Transrail and their reputation especially the issues which have arisen from their properties in New Jersey. They have been cited for everything from issues with their trucks to leaving their rail cars on sites filled to the brim with rubbish, to much more serious issues. Now they want to bring this to the Boston Area, and it will have impact not only on Wilmington, but the entire region unless properly addressed.”
These important multi-hearing weeks continued for the Ways and Means Committee through March 31st, with the broad topics of Health and Human Services, and Education and Local Aid being the main focus. Issues discussed at these hearings included the opiate crisis, and the partnership between the Department of Housing and Community Development and the Department of Veterans Services in helping to place the last of the homeless veterans into stable housing, needs of the Department of mental health, and the Commonwealth’s approach to local aid in FY18.
The House Committee on Ways and Means released its budget this past Monday, April 10th, which will be followed shortly by any budget amendments that Representative file to this proposed budget by Thursday, April 13th. These proposed budgets will be compared and weighed out in the coming weeks before deciding upon a final budget. There will be no formal hearings the week of April 17th in observance of Patriot’s Day. As such, the House of Representatives will debate the proposed budgets before coming to a final agreed upon General Appropriations Act during the week of April 24th-28th. If all goes as planned, Representative Miceli and the House Committee on Ways and Means will have rapidly met their goal of releasing their budget recommendations to the public by mid-April.
(NOTE: The above press release is from State Rep. Jim Miceli’s Office.)
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