Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Live Reporting: Legislative Update - Spilka, Rausch, Roy

a. Senate President Karen Spilka, 
Senator Rebecca Rausch, 
State Representative Jeffrey Roy

Senator Spilka thanks Jeff Nutting for all his has done during his time in leadership
we have a strong team in the State House, we help each other, support each other
it has been a pleasure working with them

Senate version of the budget issued yesterday

revising the foundation budget is one of the keys that got me into this position so to be here now and help make some changes, is good

working to get rid of stigma for mental health, needs to be treated the same as physical health

Chap 70 has made this a priority, started to increase per the review commission recommendations, more than the House and Governor, most to the low income students where it is needed

increased for health insurance and SPED transportation
Franklin should receive more as we phase it in over the years

Charter reimbursement, actually less money but calculated differently so an increase over the House amount of approx $800K

updated numbers for the Charter, had attributed more numbers to Franklin, actual numbers show less students so the numbers will reflect that

fully funded the SPED circuit breaker; amount about $200K estimated for Franklin

created $10M trust fund for mental health awareness

Senator Becca Rausch, it is a privilege to work with such colleagues
working on amendments now which are due Friday

working on home rule petitions
senate vice chair committee on elder affairs
advancing elder care and housing

good governance and good democracy, seeing good engagement and that is good
health care and reproductive health

focused on the budget for the next several weeks

Rep Roy, good to be back here, interesting to be on this side of the table
I'll echo what my colleagues have said, it is good working together

House and Senate are in agreement on Chap 70
incremental increases in Chap 70, a $2M increase with an enrollment from 6000 - 5200; a hard fight to have; $4K increase in per pupil expenditure

schools are facing burden and need every dollar they can

projected at 479 now at 375 students for Charter School, it is still somewhat a moving target 

in close contact with DESE charter guru to keep informed as the budget continues to be worked

Chap 90 - $910K for Franklin coming; Brutus start your engines

working on additional earmarks; honored and thrilled to chair the higher education committee; having a college in Franklin makes this important; looking to address sexual assaults on campus; college/school closures - 17 in last year in MA, looking to protect students so they don't get hurt

looking at how higher education is funded, taking a deep dive to look at those issues

while I feel like a young legislator, this is my 7th visit

Jones - chap 90 funding, awesome, that will get us one road
3-5 years, Beaver St interceptor

Hamblen - thank you for all that is going on at the State
thanks for the funding for the SNETT design of the bridge
goal of the trail is to have someplace for all to go other together

Secretary Beaton did come out to ride the trail, a good thing that he also had a flat as he went up the hill

Hellen - State to be filling with Conservation possible to be wrapping up for end of this year

Dellorco - that for coming, thank for what you do on the opioid issue,that runs hand in hand with mental health

Padula - what I see from clients is that things spin back to mental health; it is such a down stream problem and a major issue

Nutting - $13M state revolving fund for our water treatment plant, saving us hundreds of thousand dollars; maybe doing something for us with the sewer down the road

Mercer - local option taxes
Hellen - we get $500K in local meal tax, .75 of one penny currently, if we could get a little more; doubling the meals tax is not really going to be noticeable

Dr Bergen - thanks for coming to our Forum earlier this year
we are trying to educate our community on our budget issues

opioid and mental health, schools becoming the main social service agency and we can fund the counselors we need; so the question - is there specific funding to help us with the counselors in schools?

Spilka - mental health issues are a problem at all the schools, it is sprinkling through out the budget; most in gateway communities last fall; family resource centers funded; looking at other ways to support the family and the children; the Senate did create a $10M for mental health; asked for a working group on mental health to see what else we need to do; what can we do to change the paradigm

Bergen - while we are working with a level service budget, we are faced with SPED outplacements where their tuition costs are increasing at 8plus percent

Spilka - we will look into that

Schultz (Vice Chair School Comm) - thanks for fully funding the circuit breaker, that is important for us; addressing short medium and long term transportation reimbursements

Spilka - we will continue to look at that, not sure if they have had hearings yet; the focus had been on the Chap 70 funding formula

 Spilka - we have never fully funded the charter schools, we need more money; that was the hardest thing as Ways and Means chair, to hear all the needs and try and figure out how to use the one pot of money and balance it out, it only goes so far

Schultz - I am frustrated that we are not asking for an override this year

Roy - one of my first votes was to index the gas tax to the rate of inflation, dedicated to fixing roads and bridges; ballot question over ruled the $10B revenue that could have been available to use; fair share amendment passed today; a group of folks did not like the tax, Supreme Judicial Court weighed in to deny that revenue for transportation; it is not an easy battle

pilot program to take congestion off the roads was vetoed by the Governor

wonderful graph that talks about education and what it can do for the economy
it is a straight line, and MA is the first state to surpass 50% with bachelors degrees

Spilka - our people are our biggest national resource, and by supporting them, it is our future; education is a priority for us three and for our MetroWest communities

Hellen - Cultural District announcement on Friday at 3:30 PM at the Historical Museum
public invited

Mercer - thank you for coming, and for what you do

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