Sunday, June 4, 2017

Senator Ross: May 2017 State House Update

Senator Richard J. Ross, State House Update, May 2017
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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 weeks of review and work among the legislature, the Senate passed the FY18 budget last week. A conference committee will now work out the differences between the Senate and House so a final budget is passed before the new fiscal year begins on July 1st.

Please read/share my monthly newsletter for a FY18 Senate budget overview, as well as new state house and district updates. It is a pleasure to serve you.

As always, please feel free to reach out to my office directly at 617-722-1555.

Senate Passes FY18 Budget

On Thursday, May 25th I voted in support of a $40.8 billion budget for the Fiscal Year 2018. The FY18 budget invests 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.

The FY18 budget prioritizes spending in important areas such as education, opioid addiction, and health services, while keeping in mind the fiscal challenges that lie ahead. Though the budget invests in key areas necessary to sustain its constituency, it also tackles the importance of saving money while Massachusetts continues to face financial shortfalls. For example, Senate Republicans advanced an amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr to create a comprehensive task force that will address the sustainability of the MBTA Retirement Fund.

In line with the Senate's Kids First framework to invest in our children, the budget directs funding to high quality education for everyone including:
  • $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.
  • $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.
  • $10M to boost salaries for early educators.
The budget also 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 including:
  • $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.
  • $24.2M to fully fund Department of Developmental Services Turning 22 services to help young people with disabilities transition to the adult services system.
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.
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