Massachusetts legislators yesterday evening were set to pass a $27.9 billion fiscal 2011 budget plan that includes an anticipated debt restructuring to lower debt service costs next year.
A conference committee Wednesday night released a compromise budget plan based on budget bills the Democratic-led Senate and House had passed earlier this year. Once it gains legislative approval, Gov. Deval Patrick will consider the spending plan.
Along with the fiscal 2011 budget, the Senate yesterday anticipated voting on a debt-restructuring bill that would allow the state to lower its debt service costs in fiscal 2011 by refinancing $300 million of outstanding general obligation debt to push costs to future years. The bonds will have a maximum maturity of up to six years, according to the bill.
The House enacted S. 2432 in the afternoon, sending it back to the Senate for a final vote.
While the $27.9 billion spending plan includes more than $600 million of expected Federal Medical Assistance Percentages funds, those monies are in a separate fund attached to specific line items. If Congress fails to approve such funding, the programs will not receive any additional funding, according to Wayne Weikel, chief of staff to House Ways and Means Committee chairman Charles Murphy, D-Burlington.
In addition, the budget calls for tapping into $100 million of rainy-day funds — leaving a balance of $550 million — if it does not receive the FMAP funds, Weikel said in an e-mail.
Patrick’s budget proposal, which he submitted in late January, included use of $175 million of rainy-day funds.
Cities and towns will see a 4% reduction in state aid. Overall, the conference committee cut $374 million from 40% of budget line items, according to a joint press release from both chambers’ Ways and Means committees.
The administration has yet to announce specific aspects of the budget with which it might not agree.
“Over the course of the next few days we will be reviewing the budget submitted by the conference committee,” Jay Gonzalez, secretary for the Executive Office for Administration and Finance, said in a prepared statement. “We continue to face some very difficult challenges as we begin to recover from the global economic recession, and the budget certainly reflects that reality. The administration is committed to signing a fiscally responsible budget that reflects our values, and we will do everything possible to have that budget in place for the start of the new fiscal year.”
Fiscal 2011 begins July 1.
The budget does include a capital-gains-tax initiative for which Patrick has been pushing. That plan involves the state allocating annual capital gains revenue collected in excess of $1 billion to specific funds, with 95% of additional revenue going into the state’s rainy day fund and 5% helping to pay down its outstanding other post-employment benefit obligations.
Lawmakers are also working on legislation that would allow for casino developments. The fiscal 2011 budget does not rely on any potential revenue that the state may derive from selling casino licenses.
As for Massachusetts’ capital budget, the Department of Administration and Finance anticipates releasing that spending plan by the end of July or early August, according to spokeswoman Cyndi Roy.