Governor Deval Patrick's Budget Recommendation - House 2 Fiscal Year 2011

Governor's Budget Recommendation FY 2011

Commonwealth Health and Prevention Fund

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Governor Patrick    FY2011 House 2 Budget Recommendation:
    Issues in Brief

    Deval L. Patrick, Governor
    Timothy P. Murray, Lt. Governor


The Administration is dedicated to ensuring the highest quality of health and wellness for each of the Commonwealth’s residents.  Individual wellness is determined partly by healthy lifestyles and healthy choices.  The Commonwealth strives to provide information and support for each Massachusetts resident to make healthy choices for themselves. 

Wellness in Fiscal Year 2010

Last year, the Commonwealth took strides to encourage healthy choices and support prevention-focused programs that target the wellness of Massachusetts residents through the repeal of the sales tax exemption on alcohol.  The $81 million in revenue collected from this initiative allowed the Commonwealth to continue to provide high levels of substance abuse prevention and intervention funding, despite the fiscal challenges threatening these critical programs.

Wellness in Fiscal Year 2011

The Governor’s fiscal year 2011 budget proposes eliminating the exemption for soda and candy.  In addition to generating over $50 million for public health programs, the repeal of the sales tax exemption is a critical first step to discouraging the consumption of these unhealthy items.  Net proceeds generated from removing these exemptions, as well as the $100 million in sales tax revenues estimated to be collected in fiscal year 2011 from alcohol sold in package stores, will be deposited into the Commonwealth Health and Prevention Fund to support critical public health programs.  All other food products that are currently exempt from the sales tax will remain exempt, in line with the exemption’s original intent to ensure the affordability of necessary goods.

Childhood obesity is an epidemic in Massachusetts and the nation.  Obesity in children has tripled since 1980.  More than half of adults and nearly one in three high school and middle school students are overweight or obese.  Consequently, the percentage of adults in Massachusetts with Type 2 diabetes has nearly doubled in the last decade.  Diabetes not only causes serious illness and premature death, but also is costly.

This graph demonstrates the year over year increase in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in MA adults.  In just 5 years, the level of diet-induced diabetes has grown from 3.8% to 5.6% among MA adults.

Source: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System 2000-2008. 
Bureau of Health Information, Statistics, Research, and Evaluation. Massachusetts Department of Public Health. 2010.

Consumption of candy and soda is on the rise.  Per capita candy consumption has increased steadily since the mid-1980s. Candy and soda add significant non-nutritional calories to the diets of Americans and are directly linked to obesity, especially among children. [ Associated Press.  Scientists Target Soda as Main Cause of Obesity.  6 March 2006. ]  One bottle of soda contains more than double the recommended daily sugar consumption and accelerates associated public health concerns and costs.  The daily number of teaspoons of ‘added sugar’ recommended for a healthy diet and weight is between 5 and 9; a 20 ounce bottle of soda alone contains 17 teaspoons of added sugar.  Such added sugar intake increases a child’s propensity towards obesity by 60%.  [ UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, ]  Children and adults who consume calorie-laden ‘junk’ foods have less appetite for healthier foods at meal time, creating a vicious cycle of calorie intake and nutritional deficiencies. 

In addition to posting calorie information on the menu boards of chain restaurants and providing parents with the Body Mass Index number of their children, Massachusetts will support various other nutrition and wellness programs via the revenue collected by repealing the sales tax exemption on candy and soda.  The Working on Wellness Program, a project that engages public and private employers to establish internal infrastructures to support wellness programs that will improve the overall health and productivity of employees, has expanded to 23 employers reaching over 20,000 Massachusetts workers.  These revenues are critical to make further progress in innovative wellness programs and mitigate deeper budgetary reductions in programs that support health and prevention activities.

Massachusetts joins 40 other states that apply sales taxes to soda and candy products in this effort to promote public health and minimize the escalating costs associated with obesity. 

States that do not exempt their sales tax from candy or soda products
Regional States That Apply Sales Tax To Candy and Soda
New Jersey
New York
Rhode Island
Other States That Apply Sales Tax To Candy and Soda




District of Columbia














North Carolina

North Dakota


New Mexico


South Carolina

South Dakota







West Virginia


Source:  The MayaTech Corporation and the Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois.  State Snack and Soda Taxes from 2003-2007:  A Public Health Policy Approach to Discouraging Consumption of Snacks and Soda.  2007.

Massachusetts has long been an innovator in health care and public health.  The public health programs that serve the people of the Commonwealth reflect the Administration’s commitment to preventative care and wellness services.  $151.7 million ($51.7 million of which is new revenue generated from eliminating exemptions on soda and candy, while $100 million is from last year’s repeal of the sales tax exemption for alcohol), will be dedicated to the Commonwealth Health and Prevention Fund.  The fund will be used to support critical programs within the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, including:

  1. Addiction Control Services- Substance abuse programs work with communities and youth-at-risk for substance abuse to provide positive alternatives to drug use, critical treatment and step down services for abusers and guidance and support to families and children of substance abusers.  Additionally, prevention and treatment services for compulsive gamblers, funded in this line item, will continue to assist individuals wrestling with the financial and economic consequences of gambling addiction.
  2. Smoking Prevention and Cessation Programs- These programs have helped to produce a dramatic reduction in tobacco use, especially among youth, over the past decade.  These programs will build on this success to reduce tobacco use and abuse in the Commonwealth.
  3. Health Promotion, Violence Prevention and Workforce Expansion – The programs within this service category speak to the scope of the work that occurs at the Department of Public Health.  Programs such as domestic violence prevention and treatment, suicide prevention, sexual assault nurse examiners (SANE), teenage pregnancy prevention, violence prevention grants and grants that support community centers for at-risk youth reduce violence and promote healthy alternatives to risky behaviors.  In addition, these funds will support the ongoing effort to support and promote healthy lifestyles through family health programs, community health centers and disease prevention services. 
  4. Children’s Health and Nutrition- The health and well-being of the Commonwealth’s children are of paramount importance to the Patrick–Murray Administration.  The programs supported by the Commonwealth Health and Prevention Fund for children’s health and nutrition include early intervention services for developmentally delayed children, nutrition services for pregnant women and infant children, newborn hearing screening services and palliative care for pediatric patients.

Health and Prevention Fund: Fiscal Year 2011
Account Distribution Account No. % Funded from
Health and
Health and
Addiction Control Services 4510-0700 100% $81,184,876
Smoking Prevention and Cessation Programs 4590-0300 90% $4,725,969
Health Promotion, Violence Prevention and Workforce Expansion 4510-2500 83% $33,520,467
Children's Health and Nutrition 4512-0120 83% $32,268,688
Total Wellness Fund Spending $151,700,000

Prepared by Kelly Driscoll, Executive Office for Administration and Finance ·
For more information contact: (617) 727-2040

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