Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Senator Karen Spilka Announces Funding for Franklin and MetroWest

The Senate voted Thursday on a $40.8 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2018, investing in key areas related to local aid, education, health and human services, housing and workforce development. The budget makes targeted investments, while limiting the use of one-time revenue sources and protecting the state's Stabilization Fund.

"This budget directs resources to the programs and services necessary to sustain our children, families and communities and provide for our future success," said Senator Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. "With fiscal constraints in mind, we invest in education, health and human services, housing, workforce development and other support services to help people secure footholds on the economic ladder. We uphold our commitment to take care of those who need our help and build opportunities across the Commonwealth, and I hope to maintain this commitment throughout the conference committee process."

"This budget reaffirms the Senate's vision of Kids First, which will build strong, healthy, resilient kids who grow up to become productive adults that contribute to our Commonwealth," said Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst). "With the right policies and resources in place, our route to shared prosperity opens up with strategic investments in our children from Pre-K to career."

"The budget passed tonight by the Senate clearly responds to important spending priorities like education and confronting opioid addiction, but it also recognizes the equally important priority of saving money and capturing efficiencies by creating a comprehensive task force to address the sustainability of the MBTA Retirement Fund and by imposing a process to control the cash payments for unused sick time," said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R- Gloucester). "Major fiscal challenges still lie ahead, and this budget is one step in a long series of steps. We cannot lose focus on the need for fiscal discipline in the days ahead."

"After careful deliberation, the Senate has passed a thoughtful budget that both reflects the shared priorities of our chamber and addresses the pressing needs of our communities," said Senator Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett), Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. "As chair of the Senate Kids First working group, I am particularly proud of the targeted investments we made in our children and families, which are the first of many steps the Senate will take to put all Massachusetts kids on a path to success. I now look forward to working with our colleagues in the House to craft a final compromise budget that continues moving our Commonwealth forward."

"This budget demonstrates the Senate's continued commitment to fulfilling the promise of the 1993 Education Reform Act by beginning to implement the Foundation Budget Review Commission's recommendations. It is so important that the budget not only devotes $35 million toward that goal, but once again lays out a plan so that every year we will project the requirements of the foundation budget along with projecting revenue," said Senator Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville), Assistant Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. "We in state government need to hold ourselves accountable for meeting our constitutional obligation to fund all children's education, and this will make every branch of government, and the public, aware of our progress toward equity."

The budget continues the Senate's strong partnership with municipalities in directing significant investments to local aid and community services.

  • $1.06B for Unrestricted General Government Aid to support community investments in education, health care, public safety and roads and bridges.
  • $83M for Regional Transit Authorities.
  • $26.7M for the Board of Library Commissioners, including $10.4M for regional library local aid, $9.8M for municipal libraries and $2.3M for technology and automated resources.
  • $16.5M for the Massachusetts Cultural Council to support the state-wide creative economy and local arts and culture.
  • $14.2M for local Councils on Aging to strengthen programs and services in senior centers.

Specific funding for Framingham and MetroWest includes:

  • $15K for the Franklin Downtown Partnership
  • $25K for the Franklin, Medway, and Bellingham Army Corps of Engineers flood plain and wildlife habitat
  • $100K for the Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center to link disenfranchised patients in the Worcester and MetroWest regions to medical and social services
  • $75K for the MetroWest Free Medical Program
  • $250K for the Wayside Youth and Family Support Network TEMPO program
  • $100K for an MWRTA workforce development program to meet staffing and labor needs in the public transportation sector
  • $15K for the MetroWest Visitors Bureau MetroFest celebration
  • $100K for the United Way of Tri-County's Call2Talk program
  • $75K for the MetroWest Regional Transit Authority Vietnam Veterans Monument

In line with the Senate's Kids First framework to invest in our children, the budget directs funding to high quality education for everyone, from children at birth to adults making midlife career transitions.

  • $4.76B in Chapter 70 education funding, allowing for a minimum increase of $30 per pupil aid, 85% effort reduction and steps to implement the Foundation Budget Review Commission's recommendations to more adequately fund school districts across the state.
  • $545.1M for community colleges and universities and $534.5M for the University of Massachusetts.
  • $293.7M to fully fund the Special Education Circuit Breaker for the 6th year in a row, reimbursing school districts for the high cost of educating students with disabilities.
  • $15.1M to expand access to high quality preschool for low income 4 year olds.
  • $10M to boost salaries for early educators.
  • $7.5M for the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative and $7M for youth anti-violence Shannon Grants.
  • $3.7M for after-school and out-of-school programs to support students who need more time and specialized attention.

The budget takes steps to contain health care costs and invests in health and human services to ensure access to high quality, affordable health care and to support children, seniors, people with disabilities and veterans.

  • 388.4M for mental health support services for adults, including $1M to expand community-based placements to alleviate longer than necessary stays in inpatient units or emergency rooms.
  • $144.1M for a range of substance abuse treatment, intervention and recovery support services.
  • $91.6M for mental health services for children and young people, including $3.7M for the Massachusetts Child Psychiatric Access Program and $300K for a loan forgiveness program to increase the number of mental health professionals treating children in underserved areas.
  • $50M for family support and stabilization services.
  • $31.3M for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.
  • $24.2M to fully fund Department of Developmental Services Turning 22 services to help young people with disabilities transition to the adult services system.
  • $13.2M for Family Resource Centers, providing community-based services for families across the state.
  • $3.5M to encourage collaboration among agencies, schools and community partners to strengthen programming for early detection and screening for mental illness in children.

The budget also establishes an employer contribution to health care to raise $180 million in FY 2018, either through a temporary increase to the Employer Medical Assistance Contribution or through a time limited employer assessment as determined by the Administration.

The budget invests $464.1M in low income housing and homelessness services, with a focus on preventative and supportive resources to connect people with affordable, stable housing, as well as assistance for those in crisis. In addition to increasing funding, the budget expands access to housing and homelessness prevention resources by increasing the income threshold for rental vouchers, expanding eligibility for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program and increasing the HomeBASE re-housing subsidy cap to better divert families to housing.

  • $166.1M for Emergency Assistance Family Shelters.
  • $100M for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program, providing funding for 350 to 400 new rental assistance vouchers.
  • $46.5M for assistance for homeless individuals.
  • $32.6M for the HomeBASE diversion and rapid re-housing program.
  • $18.5M for RAFT, providing short-term financial assistance to low income families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
  • $5.5M for the Alternative Housing Voucher Program to provide over 100 new rental assistance vouchers for low income people with disabilities.
  • $2.5M for housing and supportive services for unaccompanied homeless youth.

The budget also makes targeted investments to promote self-sufficiency among low income families and create opportunities for people to develop the skills they need to compete in the workforce and boost our economy.

  • $30.8M for adult basic education services.
  • $20M for civil legal aid services for low income people.
  • $17.6M for the emergency food assistance program.
  • $14.6M for the Department of Transitional Assistance Employment Services Program to help people move toward economic independence and self-sufficiency.
  • $12.5M for summer jobs and work-readiness training for at-risk youth.
  • $4M for the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund.
  • $2.5M for Small Business Technical Assistance grants.

Finally, the budget includes several initiatives to maximize state and federal revenue opportunities, including a standing Tax Expenditure Review Commission to evaluate all tax expenditures and their fiscal impact. The budget also expands the room occupancy tax to short-term rentals and modifies the film tax credit to ensure the incentive benefits local communities, residents and business.

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 2018 begins on July 1, 2017.

Senator Karen Spilka Announces Funding for Franklin and MetroWest
Senator Karen Spilka Announces Funding for Franklin and MetroWest

Important FY 2018 Budget Links

Metrowest Daily News: 5 takeaways from the Senate Ways and Means budget

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