The Good, the Bad, and the Very Ugly of the House Budget

Late last night, the MA House passed a much-delayed budget for FY 2021.

Let's dive in.

The Good

The House last night voted to pass a slimmed down version of the ROE Act, which -- although not as comprehensive as the ROE Act -- has been celebrated by reproductive rights advocates as a major step forward.

The amendment, which passed 108 - 49, would do the following:

  • Expand access to abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy in cases of a lethal fetal diagnosis, allowing pregnant people facing serious medical obstacles to their pregnancy to make the decision that’s best for them in consultation with their doctor and receive care here at home.
  • Allow 16 and 17 year olds to make their own decisions about abortion care without having to go before a judge.
  • Streamline access for those under 16 years old by allowing remote hearings, eliminating the need for young people to travel to a courthouse and stand before a judge.

How did your state representative vote? Find out here.

ROE_-_lite.jpg

Want to thank them if they were one of the 108 YES votes? You can do so here.

 

The Bad

If we want to have an equitable recovery from the pandemic and the related recession, we need to invest in our public schools, our public infrastructure, our public health system, and our social safety net in all its forms.

And that requires money.

Unfortunately, the MA House hasn't gotten the memo. The House budget fails to deliver on the promises made in the Student Opportunity Act last year and shortchanges public services across the state, especially public transit.

Legislators had a chance on Tuesday to push back against these cuts and vote to raise additional revenue.

Unfortunately, the House voted 127 to 30 against doing so.

In a time when the billionaires in our state keep getting richer, these representatives overwhelmingly voted against a common-sense amendment from Rep. Mike Connolly (D-Cambridge) to tax unearned income (income from non-retirement investments and other forms of asset ownership, such as stocks, bonds, and dividend and interest income) at a higher rate than earned income (income from wages and salaries, as well as pensions, annuities, 401k, IRAs, and other similar retirement accounts). Unearned income goes overwhelmingly to corporate shareholders and other high-income individuals, and a modest increase could generate significant sums of money to fund public services.

Here was the vote.

Unearned_Income_Vote.png

 

The Ugly

If you follow the news, you know we're in store for a dark winter, as COVID-19 case numbers and death tolls are expected to rise.

Low-wage workers are our first line of defense against COVID-19, but they are feeling the greatest economic impact of the outbreak. Healthcare and long-term care workers, janitorial workers, food service workers, child care workers, municipal workers, adjunct faculty, gig workers, and others on the front lines are critical to supporting our communities during the OVID-19 outbreak.

But many of these front-line workers are struggling economically and lack basic economic protections including adequate paid sick time. No one who is sick should feel like they have to go to work or else they will lose their job. That's bad for the economy and bad for public health.

Unfortunately, even though a super-majority of state representatives signed onto a budget amendment to grant two weeks of job-protected emergency paid sick time, the House punted, choosing to leave workers behind again. Emergency paid sick time didn't even get a vote or a debate.

 

Want to tell your representative how you feel? Find their information here.

 

We plan to keep fighting -- for better results in the Senate next week and better results in the session next year.

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