5 Questions on the House FY2021 Budget, H.5150

November 11, 2020

- By The MAR Legal Team

1. Why are you working on the budget now? Isn’t that due by June 30th? 

Yes, it is! However, due to the pandemic, a lot of issues were delayed, including the FY2021. The state enacted a series of short-term budgets in the interim, with the latest set to expire at the end of this month. Lawmakers are now working to enact a budget covering the next seven months until the FY2022 budget becomes due on June 31, 2021. 

2. How is real estate implicated in the House FY2021 budget? 

Real estate is largely not impacted by this budget, and that’s a good thing. Recent annual and supplemental budgets have been a mixed bag, though largely positive. For example, a recent supplemental budget included additional funding for affordable housingdown payment assistance funding, and infrastructure improvements. However, other budgets have presented greater challenges. For example, the Governor’s FY2020 budget proposal included a proposal to impose a sales tax on homes, which we successfully defeated.  

Though the FY2021 budget does not have many provisions directly addressing real estate, we were pleased to see $50 million allocated for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program, which is playing a key role in protecting housing stability during the pandemic. Increasing RAFT funding and the annual RAFT grant amount have been some of our top advocacy priorities during the pandemic and our Week of Advocacy. Thank you again for making a difference.  

3. Where do things stand now? 

As you may have seen, a whopping 777 amendments were filed in the House. The House will debate those amendments and the budget proposal itself in sessions on November 10th and 12th. On the latter date, the Senate Ways and Means Committee will be filing their own budget proposal, kicking off their process of amendment filing and debate. Both bodies will then have to reach an agreement on a single budget to send to the Governor for final approval, all before the end of the month. It’s a tall order and a process we’ll be watching closely. 

4. What kind of amendments are there? 

There are a lot of amendments including everything from local aid to major policy pieces (something the Speaker has said he is not interested in including in the budget). Most would not impact real estate and we are supporting one, Amendment 595, which will help property owners and renters by funding the Governor’s Eviction Diversion Initiative and streamlining operation and application processes of RAFT and other programs. We have significant concerns about several others. Specifically, we are opposing Amendments 139145, and 420, which all propose sales taxes on homes. We are also opposing Amendments 585763, and 777, which would all implement eviction moratoria and onerous additional provisions including rent cancellation and rent control.  

5. What is MAR doing? 

MAR is, of course, playing an active role. We have provided comments on the House bill and amendments to Legislative leaders. We will remain in touch throughout the process and look forward to reviewing and commenting on the Senate’s bill and proposed amendments in the coming days.