Sunday, June 5, 2016

Senator Ross: May 2016 State House Update

Senator Richard J. Ross, State House Update, May 2016
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State Senator Richard J. Ross (R-Wrentham) proudly serving the Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex District.

State House
Room 419
Boston, MA 02133

Ph: 617-722-1555
Fax: 617-722-1054
Dear Friends,

After months of hearings and meetings with constituents, the Senate passed the FY17 budget unanimously. Now the differences between the House and Senate budgets will be worked out in a conference committee so that a budget is passed before July 1st.

This month was also one where we honored the memories of those who sacrificed everything for our freedom.

Please read/share my newsletter for a rundown on what is included in the budget as well as what has been happening across my district.

On Thursday May 26th I voted in support of a $39.558 billion budget for the Fiscal Year 2017. The FY17 budget makes critical investments in areas related to local aid, education, children's health and safety, housing, health and human services, workforce training and economic development, and combating the opioid epidemic, among others.  The budget limits the use of one-time revenue sources and directs $211M to the state's Stabilization Fund, prioritizing fiscal responsibility and this critical safety net for the Commonwealth.

The FY17 budget is one that clearly puts the people of the Commonwealth first and I was proud to vote in favor of it. By investing in our cities and towns and our children and families, we are ensuring the long-term success of our constituents and the Commonwealth. The budget we passed, while not perfect, is a fiscally prudent step in the right direction to provide working families with the tools and opportunities they need to thrive.

The FY17 budget demonstrates a clear commitment to cities and towns across Massachusetts with measures that aim to strengthen local services and build strong and sustainable communities including:
  • $4.63B in Chapter 70 education aid, a $116.1M increase benefiting every school district, including a minimum increase of $55 per pupil and 85% effort reduction.
  • $1.02B for Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) for municipal investments in education, public safety, roads and bridges and health care.
  • $281.1M to fully fund the Special Education Circuit Breaker to reimburse school districts for high costs of educating students with disabilities at the full 75% reimbursement rate.
The budget also increases funding for health and human services in a range of areas to improve access to high quality health care and enhance services for individuals with disabilities, seniors and other vulnerable groups that are often under-served including:
  • $136.4M for substance abuse prevention and treatment, allowing for 150 new residential treatment beds and other lifesaving programs, and $2M for the Substance Abuse Services Trust Fund supporting detox, clinical stabilization, residential treatment, outpatient treatment and counseling services.
  • $14.1M for local Councils on Aging, increasing the formula grant to $10 per senior per year and strengthening local senior center community programming and services.
  • $13.9M to fully fund Turning 22 Services for the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind and Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, and $8M for the Department of Developmental Services Turning 22 program to help young people with disabilities transition to the adult services system.
Several proposals I supported were adopted by the Senate, such as increases in funding for the Children's Advocacy Center of Bristol County, funding for host communities of correctional facilities, efforts to support people with developmental disabilities, as well as initiatives to tackle veteran homelessness in Massachusetts. Additionally, I successfully advocated for a $2 million increase for regional school transportation funding which will largely benefit students and families in my district, including the King Philip Regional School District and the Dover-Sherborn School District.

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 2017 begins on July 1, 2016.

The newsletter was edited to shorten for publication here, you can view the full newsletter with the following link -->> View this email in your browser                          

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