It's a week late, but on Beacon Hill, state lawmakers vote Wednesday on a new state budget. The $38.1 billion package addresses opioid addiction, the earned income tax credit and homelessness.
The plan also gives Gov. Charlie Baker many of the tools that Baker sought to overall the MBTA, including a financial oversight board and a three-year suspension of the state law preventing the 'T' from contracting out some services to private companies.
For more on the budget, state Senate President Stan Rosenberg joins Morning Edition.
On what he sees Gov. Baker doing in regards to MBTA reform:
Stan Rosenberg: "We expect him to be a strong manager and use the tools provided both in this bill and also the last three or four reforms of the 'T' that have a lot of provisions yet to be implemented. So the problems are largely and principally management problems, as they pointed out themselves in their meetings with us here in the Senate."
On whether he expects the 'T' to improve by next winter:
SR: "Things will be better. There's still a lot of work to be done. I don't think you can get it all done in six months, but they can make a lot of progress."
On the suspension of the so-called Pacheco law:
SR: "The governor wanted to eliminate it entirely and completely and permanently for the 'T.' The House said let's give a 5-year suspension. the compromise in the conference committee was a 3-year suspension. Again, I believe that it's mostly a set of management problems there, and so we didn't want to do something permanent that would take away the protection of tax payers to know that when you privatize it's to save money and to improve performance as you're saving money. And so we wanted to make sure it wasn't permanent."
On the earned income tax credit:
SR: "The governor wanted to pay for earned income tax increase for the first time in 18 years by getting rid of the film tax credit. The speaker said no, he doesn't want to get rid of the film tax credit. The Senate said, well, why don't we take the same $140 million we would have given in rolling back the income tax another .5 percent and use that to pay for the earned income tax credit and an increase in the personal exemption so that every single tax payer would get some benefit out of it. The compromise was to eliminate a corporate tax credit that would go to 20 of the largest corporations in America, and three of which would receive more than half of all of the dollars from this corporate tax break that was put in place four years ago but never implemented. So we just wipe it off the books and use that money to pay for earned income tax credit increase for the hardest-working, lowest-income people in the Commonwealth."
On measures to curb opioid addiction:
SR: "We also included in that budget a bulk purchasing program done by the Department of Public Health with the savings to help police departments, EMTs, clinics and other places that need NARCAN in order to save the lives of people who find themselves in overdose situations. So that hopefully will be up-and-running and helping our communities and medical facilities very soon. In addition, we're going to be trying to take that same model and expand it to other forms of medicine and drugs to try to help bring down the upwardly spiraling cost of pharmaceuticals here in the Commonwealth."
This article was originally published on July 08, 2015.
This segment aired on July 8, 2015.