House, Senate add to FY18 spending

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With state finances in much better shape than a year ago, when the fiscal 2018 state budget was first debated, the Legislature has been adding to underfunded accounts as available revenue and forecasts have allowed.
 
Last month, the House and Senate approved supplemental budget bills that would increase funding for the special education circuit breaker account by $12.5 million, as part of a push to reach full funding when fiscal 2018 closes later this year. The additional funds would bring the total appropriation to $294 million, but still leaves it short by an estimated $14 million.
 
The House and Senate budget bills would also add a small amount of funding for charter school impact mitigation reimbursements. This account remains substantially underfunded, as assessments on public schools to pay tuition to charter schools have grown faster than scheduled impact mitigation payments.
 
There are some significant differences between the House and Senate versions in this round of supplemental spending bills that will have to be resolved before a final bill can be sent to the governor.
 
The Senate bill would add a new revenue source for the municipal police training fund, derived from a $2 surcharge on certain motor vehicle rental transactions. This proposal is not in the House bill.
 
The Senate bill includes funding for the Municipal Naloxone Bulk Purchase Trust Fund to reduce the cost of local Narcan purchases, and additional funding for regional transit authorities.
 
There are likely to be additional fiscal 2018 spending bills before the year closes, with the possibility of additional municipal and school aid if state finances remain healthy.