The following is a press release
BOSTON– The Massachusetts Senate voted today, May 25, on a $41.49 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2019, including targeted investments to create opportunities and ensure access to the tools that individuals, children and families need to succeed in the economy and in their communities.
The budget invests in key areas related to education, local aid, health and human services, housing and tools for low income families, while limiting the use of one-time revenue sources and directing $88.5 million to the state’s Stabilization Fund.
“Massachusetts has long been a leader in so many areas, including education, health care, civil rights, economic innovation and protecting the vulnerable. The budget we passed today proves we are committed to continuing to lead the way,” said Senator Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “This is a forward-looking budget that reflects our values as a Senate, creates opportunities and invests in our people and our shared future. I am grateful to my colleagues for their collaboration and ideas throughout the process, and I look forward to advancing these priorities in conference committee deliberations.”
A Conference Committee will now work out the differences between the Senate budget and the version passed by the House of Representatives in April.
Fiscal Year 2019 begins on July 1.
“The budget that the Senate has passed tonight is committed to providing fairness, equality, and opportunity for all of Massachusetts’ residents,” said Senate President Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester). “We have invested in essential programs, old and new, to ensure that our Commonwealth can provide the best possible healthcare, transportation, housing, and human services in the country. I am incredibly proud of the hard work that Senators and staff put into this budget.”
“The budget approved by the Senate tonight increases funding for critical priorities such as Special Education, Regional School Transpiration, and municipal police training, while resisting broad-based tax increases and creating more transparency and tool for making state government more efficient,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R- Gloucester). “Importantly, it also sets the stage for fully funding the commitments we have made in statute for our local school districts.”
“This budget builds on a strong foundation of consistent leadership from the Senate ensuring families in this Commonwealth have the resources, services, and programming necessary to succeed,” said Senator Joan B. Lovely, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “This budget emphasizes the Senate’s strong commitment to supporting education, seniors, health care, public safety, and economic opportunity. I’m proud of the work this body has done to put forth a spending bill that supports these important issues and all residents of the Commonwealth.”
“This Senate budget takes big strides on issues of equity, empowerment, and opportunity,” said Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, Assistant Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “It includes crucial, watershed changes to support immigrants and increase public safety, broad investments in K-12 education, much-needed supports for children and families, and increased government transparency and accountability. Under the leadership of Senate President Chandler and Chairwoman Spilka, the Senate has produced a budget that balances the needs of communities and invests in our bedrock values as a Commonwealth.”
The budget invests significantly in education for people of all ages and backgrounds and focuses in particular on elementary and secondary education, including $4.91B for the Chapter 70 education formula, its highest level ever. This funding allows for a minimum aid increase of $30 per pupil for every school district across the state and 100% effort reduction to bring all school districts to their target local contribution. The budget also continues to phase in the Foundation Budget Review Commission (FBRC) recommendations to more adequately fund school districts and ensure high quality education for all students.
- $4.91B for Chapter 70 education funding
- $518.9M for the University of Massachusetts, $282.7M for community colleges and $259M for state universities
- $319.3M to fully fund the Special Education Circuit breaker
- $100M to reimburse school districts for costs incurred when students leave to attend charter schools
- $68.9M to reimburse regional school districts for their transportation costs at a rate of 80%
- $22.5M for the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO) program
- $8.7M for Childcare Resource and Referral Centers to boost salaries and decrease caseloads for caseworkers helping parents, childcare providers, employers and community groups navigate the state’s early education landscape
- $4.7M for the School Breakfast program and a policy change to ensure free and reduced-price breakfast is served after the start of the school day
- $4M for Youth-At-Risk Matching grants, including support for YWCAs, YMCAs and Boys & Girls Clubs
- $750K for the Mass Mentoring Partnership
The budget continues Massachusetts’ leadership in providing health and human services, investing in health care for low income residents and vulnerable populations, services for people struggling with mental illness and substance misuse and resources for children, seniors, veterans and individuals with disabilities.
In line with the Senate’s continued efforts on health care cost containment, the budget provides MassHealth with new tools to tackle the rising cost of pharmaceutical drugs, setting an annual spending target and permitting the Secretary of Health and Human Services to pursue rebates from pharmaceutical manufacturers. This policy change allows for savings without changing eligibility standards, reducing access to certain pharmaceuticals or compromising access to comprehensive health coverage.
- $142.9M for a range of substance abuse treatment, intervention and recovery support services, including funding to open five new recovery centers
- $92.5M for children’s mental health services, including $3.9M for the Massachusetts Child Psychiatric Access Program
- $25M to fully fund Department of Developmental Services Turning 22 services to help young people with disabilities transition to adulthood
- $15.5M for Family Resource Centers to expand to new communities and meet increased demand for services from families displaced by last fall’s hurricanes
- $6M to increase salaries of providers of mental health services for both children and adults and improve access to this critical care
The budget invests in programs and advances policies to encourage self-sufficiency and economic mobility for low income families, providing them with the tools to secure their essential needs and develop skills to join the workforce. Policy changes include raising the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) state match to 30% of the federal credit, eliminating the failed state policy that denies Department of Transitional Assistance benefits to children conceived while the family was receiving assistance and increasing the clothing allowance to $350 per child to help families secure their basic needs.
The budget also continues to invest in initiatives that connect Massachusetts workers with economic opportunities and boost thriving sectors of our economy.
- $33.4M for adult basic education services to improve access to skills and tools necessary to join the workforce
- $10.3M for summer jobs and work-readiness training for at-risk youth.
- $5M for the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund to connect unemployed and under-employed workers with higher paying jobs
- $2.7M for the Precision Manufacturing Program
- $2.5M for the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative Innovation Institute
- $1.5M for Small Business Technical Assistance Grants
- $1M for Regional Economic Development Organizations to support economic growth and innovation in all regions of the state
- $150K for Low Income Tax Clinics to help families navigate the tax filing process and access resources like the EITC
The Committee’s budget invests $452.7M in low income housing and homelessness services to increase access to quality, affordable housing, a necessary foundation for people seeking to climb the economic ladder.
- $156M for Emergency Assistance Family Shelters
- $97.5M for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP)
- $48.2M for assistance and services for homeless individuals
- $18.5M for Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT), including $3M to expand eligibility to include persons with disabilities, seniors, unaccompanied youth and individuals
- $6.5M for nearly 160 new rental subsidies for individuals with mental health challenges
- $5M for the Alternative Housing Voucher Program providing rental assistance to people with disabilities and $2.7M for a new grants program to improve or create accessible affordable housing units
- $3.3M for housing and supportive services for unaccompanied homeless youth
- $1.3M for the Tenancy Preservation Program to provide services throughout the expanded Housing Court system
Recognizing that each community and region of the Commonwealth has unique assets and needs, the Senate Ways and Means budget directs significant investments to local aid and community services and empowers municipalities to provide vital education, public safety and infrastructure services.
- $1.1B for unrestricted general government aid to support community investments in education, health care, public safety and roads and bridges
- $88M for Regional Transit Authorities, along with policy changes to tie future transfers to inflation and create a Task Force on RTA Performance and Funding to recommend reforms to service standards and finances
- $26.8M for the Board of Library Commissioners, including $10.3M for regional library local aid, $9.4M for municipal libraries and $2.8M for technology and automated resources.
- $16.2M for local Councils on Aging to strengthen programs and services in senior centers in communities across the state
- $16M for the Massachusetts Cultural Council to support local arts, culture and creative economy initiatives
The Senate also adopted an amendment to protect the civil rights of immigrants and prevent state resources from being used to enforce federal immigration law or to establish a registry based on a person’s protected status.