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House:
ADJOURNED 'til Wednesday at 11 a.m. (formal)
Senate:
ADJOURNED 'til Tuesday at 10 a.m. (formal)
STATE CAPITOL BRIEFS - MORNING EDITION - THURSDAY, FEB. 1, 2018 .: The State House News Service

STATE CAPITOL BRIEFS - MORNING EDITION - THURSDAY, FEB. 1, 2018

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE


  • GIC VOTES 12-2 TO UNDO HEALTH PLAN CONSOLIDATION

  • STATE TAX WINDFALL CONTINUED IN EARLY JANUARY

GIC VOTES 12-2 TO UNDO HEALTH PLAN CONSOLIDATION
Upending a controversial move to cut three carriers from the health insurance menu available to public employees, the Group Insurance Commission voted as forecast on Thursday to reconsider its Jan. 18 vote. The board two weeks ago voted 8-5 with two abstentions to eliminate Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Tufts Health Plan and Fallon Community Health as carriers, sparking an outcry from public employee unions and elected officials who expressed concern about GIC members losing access to their health care providers. Culling the insurance carrier offerings would have saved more than $20 million while maintaining comparable coverage and allowing members to continue seeing their doctors with potentially lower out-of-pocket expenses, according to GIC officials. "I don't think it takes a political expert to conclude our process was flawed," said Melvin Kleckner, who voted with the majority on Jan. 18, and on Thursday moved to reconsider that earlier vote. At a meeting held in the Transportation Building, the GIC board voted 12-2 to undo its earlier decision. Valerie Sullivan, the board chairwoman, and Tamara Davis opposed the motion to reconsider. "I hope going forward we can commit to a better process next year," said Timothy Sullivan, who represents the Massachusetts Teachers Association on the GIC and said board members should have more time before making such weighty decisions. Sullivan opposed the earlier decision to cut the health plans. The move to reconsider returns the GIC to a decision about how to move forward with plans for its members. The meeting continued after the vote Thursday with a discussion about the commission's options. - Andy Metzger/SHNS

STATE TAX WINDFALL CONTINUED IN EARLY JANUARY
The waves of above-benchmark state tax collections are still crashing into the new year. After sluggish revenue growth the last two fiscal years, receipts over the first six months of fiscal 2018 were running $728 million over benchmark at the end of December, spurring Gov. Charlie Baker to lift his controversial hold on spending earmarks sprinkled into the budget by the Legislature. In a mid-January letter to lawmakers, Revenue Commissioner Christopher Harding disclosed that total tax collections for the month-to-date period were $1.507 billion, up $392 million or 35.1 percent compared to the same period last year. Within the income tax category, estimated payments of $767 million, which accounted for the bulk of $1.35 billion collected in that category, were up $412 million versus the same period last year. The Department of Revenue collected more than $3 billion in taxes in December, exceeding projections by $527 million, or 21.2 percent, and beating last year's mark by $517 million. At the six-month milestone, fiscal 2018 receipts stood at $12.9 billion, 6 percent above the benchmark and 8.1 percent, or $966 million, higher than the first half of fiscal 2017. State officials are scheduled to disclose collection amounts for the full month of January next week. According to the DOR, January has contributed an average of 10 percent of total annual revenues, ranking number three among the twelve months for share of collections. - Michael P. Norton/SHNS

-END-
2/1/2018


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