On November 5, the House Committee on Ways and Means (HWM) released its $46 billion state budget proposal for the 2021 fiscal year (FY2021).
The budget proposal (H.5150) assumes a $2 billion reduction in tax revenues from FY2020 due to the pandemic. The House proposes a 5.3% spending increase over the $43.6 billion FY2020 state budget.
The budget does not include any broad-based tax increases but does rely heavily on one-time funding from the federal government and state reserves to protect services during the ongoing pandemic. The budget proposes taking more than $1.5 billion from the state's "rainy day" fund, which is $155 million more than Gov. Baker recommended taking from the state's emergency reserves in his budget proposal. The HWM budget uses several one-time revenue sources, including $550 million in federal CARES Act funding.
The HWM budget proposes several critical increases in funding for affordable housing and homelessness prevention programs. These investments include $50 million for Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT), $135 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP), and $80 million for Public Housing. The budget also included a new $5 million program to support down payment assistance for first time homebuyers.
The HWM budget also includes an outside section that would restrict courts from finalizing evictions if a tenant has an active application for rental assistance pending with the administration. Another outside section would require regular reporting on the Governor's Eviction Diversion Initiative, including information on who is being served by RAFT and other expanded emergency housing assistance programs. To view the language of these outside sections, click here and scroll to Sections 41 and 42 on the pages 240-41.
CHAPA sincerely thanks Speaker DeLeo, House Ways and Means Chair Aaron Michlewitz, and members of the House Ways and Means Committee for ensuring resources for affordable housing programs in the ongoing pandemic!
The House will debate its budget next Tuesday, November 10. CHAPA is working now with Representatives to draft and file budget amendments to even further strengthen these affordable housing and homelessness prevention programs. The deadline to file amendments is 8:00 p.m. on Friday, November 6. We will share information soon with more details as amendments are filed related to RAFT and HomeBASE. We will need your help reaching out to ask legislators to co-sponsor and support amendments. Please stay tuned for Action Alerts from CHAPA to help support affordable housing, homelessness prevention, and community development resources in the state budget!
The Senate is also expected to release and debate its budget proposal soon with a final budget sent to the Governor by the end of November.