Showing posts with label FY 2016. Show all posts
Showing posts with label FY 2016. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Photos from the All Night Party 2016

Thanks to all the parents and volunteers for their work transforming Horace Mann Middle School for the FHS All Night Party held after the graduation on Friday, June 3. I created an album for the photos to share. I have a few more to add but the bulk of the photos are ready for your viewing now.

photos from the FHS All Night Party 2016
photos from the FHS All Night Party 2016

For all the photos visit this link

Note the photos are all licensed with Creative Commons for non-commercial use, sharing with attribution.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Looking back to April 2015

Some key events took place in April. The Finance Committee began its series of public hearings on the FY 2016 budget. When the hearings and approvals were completed in May, the Town Council scheduled their own hearings for June.


The Town Council heard about the proposal to move the Recreation Dept from 150 Emmons St (since that building was being sold) to a building on Beaver St. The property at 275 Beaver St was the proposed location. The Town Council approved funding the purchase.

275 Beaver St in March 2015

Recreation Dept in Oct 2015
Recreation Dept in Oct 2015


All the archives for April 2015 can be found here

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Senator Spilka: Lifting All Families in the FY 2016 Budget

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Legislature Passes Budget to Lift All Families
Dear Friend,

Last week, the legislature sent a $­38.145 billion state budget for Fiscal Year 2016 to the Governor's desk. I'm proud that my first budget as Chair of Senate Ways and Means lifts all families.

These budget line items are so much more than just numbers - they represent values, priorities and meaningful tools for people across MetroWest and the Commonwealth.

We invest in the future, strengthening pathways to educational opportunity from early ed through college and workforce training. We provide assistance for those struggling with opioid addiction and help people find stable housing solutions. 
The Earned Income Tax Credit increase is a big step to address rising income inequality and put more money in the pockets of hard-working families.
Thank you to advocates and constituents across MetroWest and the Commonwealth for making your voices heard on your priorities throughout the budget process!

This is my new e-newsletter - stay tuned for more details and updates. Please feel free to share with family, friends and colleagues by clicking on the "Forward to a Friend" link at the bottom of this email.  

As always, if you would like additional information or have any concerns or comments, please call my office at (617) 722-1640 or email me at

Warm Regards,
Senator Karen E. Spilka
2nd Middlesex and Norfolk

Office of State Senator Karen E. Spilka
Room 212, State House
Boston, Massachusetts  02133
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Senator Karen E. Spilka | Massachusetts State House, Room 212 | Boston | MA | 02133

Sunday, July 12, 2015

MassBudget: Analyzing the Legislature's Budget for FY 2016

MassBudget  Information.
 Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center  Democracy.
Analyzing the Legislature's Budget for FY 2016

The Legislature's Fiscal Year 2016 (FY 2016) budget, approved by the House and Senate on Wednesday, makes few major changes in overall funding provided to educate our children, keep our communities safe, protect our most vulnerable, keep our air and water clean, strengthen our economy and improve the quality of life in our communities. Click HERE for our full analysis. 

The Governor now has ten days from the enactment of the budget to sign it and veto any outside sections, line items, or portions of line items. The budget then returns to the Legislature, which can either let vetoes stand or override them with a two thirds vote of the House and Senate.  

The budget does include several significant new initiatives, including:
  • Increasing the value of the state earned income tax credit from 15% of the federal credit to 23%. This will provide additional income to over 400,000 lower wage workers and their families (click HERE for town-by-town detail). Besides improving lives now by helping parents to pay for necessities like food and clothing for their children, this additional support is also likely to expand opportunity for these children over the long run: there is growing evidence that when the income of a lower income family increases, the children often do better in school and earn more as adults.
  • Providing significant new tools for the administration to improve management at the MBTA. The budget creates a new MBTA Control Board and authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to appoint the Director of the MBTA. The budget also suspends for three years the Taxpayer Protection Act (commonly called the Pacheco Law) that regulates privatization. The law requires that privatization efforts achieve savings by efficiency improvements rather than by reducing pay and benefits for workers (click HERE for more detail).
  • Addressing substance abuse with targeted investments throughout MassHealth, public health and mental health. In particular, new initiatives support first responders and others in the community struggling to address the challenge of opioid addiction.
The Legislature's final budget, like the budget proposed by the governor back in March, relies heavily on temporary strategies to balance the budget. It spends $300 million in capital gains tax revenue that would have gone into the Rainy Day Fund under current law. It also counts on $100 million from a tax amnesty and $116 million from putting off paying some of our FY 2016 MassHealth bills into FY 2017.

As has been the case for many years, state budget choices are being shaped by fiscal challenges that date back to the late 1990s: after cutting the income tax by over $3 billion dollars between 1998 and 2002 our state has had to make deep cuts in areas like higher education, local aid, and public health. Meanwhile, the highest income residents in the Commonwealth are paying a substantially smaller share of their income in state and local taxes than do the other 99%. If our tax system were reformed so that the highest income 1% of taxpayers paid roughly the same share of their income in taxes as everyone else, that would raise about $2 billion that could be invested in things like making college affordable, improving our transportation systems, and providing all children with the supports they need to thrive.

Please click HERE for our full analysis.   

The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget) produces policy research, analysis, and data-driven recommendations focused on improving the lives of low- and middle-income children and adults, strengthening our state's economy, and enhancing the quality of life in Massachusetts.

BOSTON, MA 02108

Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center | 15 Court Square | Suite 700 | Boston | MA | 02108

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Senator Spilka: Legislature Passes Balanced FY16 Budget

Updates Massachusetts' Tax Structure to Support Residents without Raising Taxes or Fees; Reforms the MBTA

The Massachusetts Legislature today enacted a $­­­­­­­­­38.145 billion state budget for Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16) which emphasizes economic growth, support for residents most in need, and reform of the state's transportation system. The spending plan makes investments in local aid, education, and human services including an acute focus on behavioral health and substance abuse.

Building on a responsible yet proactive approach to bolstering the state's economy, this year's budget increases the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) while maintaining a voter-mandated tax reduction and without implementing new taxes or fees. For low-to-moderate households, EITC will increase to 23 percent on January 1, 2016. Increasing this credit is an effective way to fight stagnant wages and lift working families out of poverty.

"This year's budget features a long-overdue increase of the Earned Income Tax Credit, and I'm thrilled we have taken this substantial step towards addressing income inequality by helping working families in Massachusetts," said Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst). "We've also ensured that taxpayers won't be left on the hook for funding the Olympics, and MBTA riders won't have to pick up the tab for T mismanagement. I want to commend Senator Spilka for a successful first budget which maintains our fiscal health, continues our economic growth, and lifts all families."

"As is customary, the House budget contained a myriad of policy matters, anyone of which could have been debated and voted on during the debate in April," said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D – Winthrop). "The budget passed overwhelmingly as did the conference committee report today."

"These budget line items are more than just numbers. They represent values, priorities and meaningful tools for people across the Commonwealth," said Senate Committee on Ways and Means Chair Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). "We invest in the future, strengthening pathways to educational opportunity from early education through college and workforce training. We provide assistance for those struggling with opioid addiction and help people find stable housing solutions. The Earned Income Tax Credit increase is a big step to address rising income inequality and put more money in the pockets of hard-working families. Thank you to Senate President Rosenberg, Senator DiDomenico and Senator deMacedo for your hard work and assistance and to my House counterpart Chairman Dempsey for his partnership throughout this process. My goal when I became Chair of Senate Ways and Means this year was to create a budget to lift all families. This final budget accomplishes that goal."

"This budget takes significant steps to begin to deliver meaningful reform to the MBTA to ensure that the system does not have the shut-downs and delays that were experienced this past winter," said Representative Brian S. Dempsey (D-Haverhill), House Chair of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means. "I am proud that this budget maintains fiscal discipline by slowing spending growth but still makes targeted investments to deliver tax relief, combat opioid abuse, prevent homelessness and preserve services for the most vulnerable populations in our state."

"This year's budget makes strategic investments in some of the Commonwealth's most critical services and programs, while still remaining financially responsible," said Senate Committee on Ways and Means Vice Chair Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett).  "The impact of this budget will be far reaching in providing support for the state's working families by expanding vital initiatives, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, and making crucial investments in early education.  I would like to thank Chairwoman Karen Spilka, Chairman Brian Dempsey, and my fellow colleagues on the conference committee for their hard work and contributions to produce a comprehensive final budget that will continue to move our Commonwealth forward."

"In a challenging budget year, the House and Senate have crafted a balanced and responsible spending plan that invests in local schools and communities, addresses the growing crisis in opioid addiction, and brings much needed reforms to the state's management of public transportation," said Representative Stephen Kulik (D- South Deerfield), House Vice-Chair of the Joint Committee on Ways & Means. "Our Commonwealth is moving forward to support working families and a stronger economic future, and this budget reflects these priorities."
"Today we've enacted a Fiscal Year 2016 state budget produced in a bi-partisan and collaborative way that invests in important priories without resorting to an income tax increase, and which incorporates the products of Republican Caucus initiatives such as a strong MBTA control board, legislative control over Olympic Games funding, and the elimination of a burdensome financial surcharge for motorists not using headlight in inclement weather," said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester).

"The Fiscal Year 2016 budget reaffirms the state's commitment to our cities and towns by providing significant increases in local aid, while also protecting the state's hard-working taxpayers by not imposing any new taxes or drawing down from the Stabilization Fund," said House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading).  "The budget also takes many important steps towards reforming the MBTA by providing greater oversight and accountability of the authority's finances and operations, which should result in improved fiscal stability and service reliability at the agency moving forward."

The budget takes immediate steps to address systemic management problems at the MBTA by including a series of reform tools including 3-year suspension of the statute governing the procurement of private services at the MBTA and:

  • An MBTA fiscal management and control board within MassDOT that will have the power to implement measures to ensure financial, operational and managerial stability at the MBTA while operating within a unified state transportation network;

  • An internal special audit unit within MassDOT to monitor quality, efficiency and integrity of the departments operating and capital programs;

  • Streamlined accountability at the MBTA, including providing the Secretary of Transportation authority to appoint a General Manager for the MBTA.

To bolster accountability and transparency within the state's transportation system, the law also increases the size of the MassDOT Board and makes the Secretary of Transportation chair of the Board. These updates follow two transportation reform plans accompanied by major funding increases the Legislature passed in 2009 and in 2013.

The FY16 budget targets the opioid crisis, strengthening behavioral health efforts enacted in last year's budget and the landmark substance addiction law through several targeted investments. Many of the programs focus on co-occurring disorders and finding sustainable ways to aid in both prevention and recovery including:

  • $3 million for new clinical stabilization beds to provide for treatment after detoxification;

  • A municipal Naloxone bulk purchasing program to authorize the Department of Public Health to buy and distribute this critical intervention to first responders;

  • A task force to study the feasibility of a prescription drug disposal program;

  • $2.5 million to expand patient access to Vivitrol, a non-narcotic drug that blocks the effect of opiates or alcohol for a period of 30 days;

  • $1.5 million to expand opioid prevention grants;

  • $3.1 million for a new line item for Recovery High Schools, including $1 million to establish two new programs;

  • More than $375 million for Adult Community Mental Health Services, $87 million for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, and an additional $4 million for the Department of Mental Health to annualize and expand community placements to free up beds in the DMH pipeline.

This budget enhances the Commonwealth's partnerships with cities and towns through numerous funding streams including almost $980 million to Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA), a $34 million increase from FY15 and $4.5 billion for Chapter 70 (education funding). The spending plan fully funds Special Education Circuit Breaker in order to help districts meet the cost of educating students with disabilities, and provides $59 million to reimburse municipalities for Regional School Transportation costs.

In addition to educational investments through local aid, this year's budget extends Massachusetts ongoing commitment to supporting and strengthening its educational systems to foster equality and provide residents with a competitive edge, including:

  • $4 million to increase access to high-quality early education and care (EEC) for the Commonwealth's youngest children through EEC program quality improvements, including support for workforce development and training opportunities for early educators;

  • $12 million to serve an additional 2,000+ children on the income-eligible EEC waitlist and support working families;

  • $95.6 million for the state's Higher Education Scholarship to help eligible Massachusetts residents cover the cost of college;

  • $750,000 for the Community College Workforce Training Incentive Grant Program to expand vocationally-oriented course offerings and support the work of Community Colleges in developing tomorrow's workforce.

This year's budget emphasizes the importance of enhanced fiscal predictability and sustainable investments, a practice that has raised Massachusetts bond rating to AA+, the highest in the state's history. For the first time since 2007, the budget does not withdraw any funds from the Commonwealth's stabilization fund, leaving the balance in excess of $1 billion.

Additional economic development measures include:

  • MassCAN: $1.7 million to establish widespread, progressive computer science curriculum in public school through a public-private matching program;

  • Talent Pipeline: $1.5 million to encourage young innovators to get a head start on their futures by matching stipends for interns at innovation start-ups, and to provide mentoring opportunities for new entrepreneurs;

  • STEM Starter Academy: $4.75 million to promote STEM careers at the Commonwealth's community colleges.

  • $2 million for the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership to address the shortfall of skilled workers and aid small and mid-sized manufacturing companies though technical assistance and consultant support;

  • $1.5 million for a Precision Manufacturing Program, designed to increase the skill set of middle-skilled workers;

  • $600,000 for Regional Economic Development Grants;

  • $2.2 million for the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund to train unemployed and low-wage workers for high-demand industries like health care, construction, and education;

  • $1.2 million for a new Training Resources and Internship Networks (TRAIN) grant program, a partnership with community colleges to specifically target the long-term unemployed and provide them with training and internship opportunities and the chance to fill resume gaps.

Included in the budget is a provision that protects taxpayer dollars from being spent on the 2024 Olympics, which also includes tax incentives, for the Games if they come to Massachusetts.  The provision requires Boston 2024 to formally request funding from the Legislature for any specific project and make their case during a formal hearing.

The budget now goes to the Governor.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Senator Spilka: Joint Statement on FY16 Budget Conference Report

The Conference Committee has reached an agreement and filed a report to resolve the differences between the House and Senate versions of the fiscal year 2016 budget. The agreement appropriates $38.14B in state spending. The Conference Report also includes language preventing the use of state funds or tax expenditures for the 2024 Olympics, the creation of a finance control board and a 3 year suspension, for the MBTA, of the statute that governs the privatization of the functions of state entities, an increase to 23% for the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) effective January 1, 2016 and no changes to the income tax. 
“I am proud that this budget begins the process of bringing meaningful reforms to the MBTA, to ensure that the system failures brought on by the storms during the winter of 2015 will not be repeated,” said Representative Brian S. Dempsey (D- Haverhill, Chairman House Committee on Ways and Means). “I would also like to highlight that this budget found a way to prioritize funding to make significant investments to protect and expand services for some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens especially clients of the Department of Developmental Services and the Department of Mental Health.” 
“This report is a reflection of the priorities of both the House and Senate and while we may be a few days into the new fiscal year, it demonstrates our ability to work together on complex issues to reach the compromises needed for results,” added Dempsey. “I would like to congratulate my fellow conferees Representatives Kulik and Smola and Senators DiDomenico and deMacedo for their hard work on the Conference Committee. I would also like to extend an additional thank you and congratulations to my co-chair Senator Karen Spilka on the successful completion on her first budget conference committee as Chair of Senate Ways and Means.” 
“I am pleased that we have reached an agreement on a final budget that lays the foundation for shared prosperity and economic growth,” said Senate Committee on Ways and Means Chair Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “This budget is terrific news for Massachusetts families. I’m especially proud of the increase to the Earned Income Tax Credit, an incredibly effective way to lift working families out of poverty and a step toward addressing income inequality in our communities. "
"We strengthen pathways to educational opportunity at all levels, from early education to K-12 to college to workforce development. The budget also invests significantly in homelessness prevention, initiatives to tackle the opioid addiction crisis and innovative ways to increase access to justice. To improve public transit we have given Governor Baker the tools he needs to get the MBTA back on track. We have protected riders from excessive fare increases and kept our commitment to financial investments in the T.” 
“Thank you to Senator DiDomenico, Senator deMacedo, Representative Kulik and Representative Smola for your hard work and assistance throughout this process. Thank you also to my House counterpart Chairman Dempsey for his partnership in creating a budget that reflects the priorities of both chambers. My goal when I became Chair of Senate Ways and Means this year was to lift all families through the budget process. This final budget accomplishes that goal,” said Spilka.

Friday, June 12, 2015

"the idea is sustainability"

“We’re looking for assurance on your part that this town is well protected,” Vallee said. 
On average, towns with similar size populations have up to 50 officers, while Franklin currently has 43, with two more expected to arrive from the academy in January, according to Vallee. 
Yet the statistics on crime do not justify the hiring of additional officers, Semerjian said. The stats show that since 2008, arrests and calls have steadily declined. For instance, arrests peaked in 2008 at 545; last year, there were 269. 
“Were not dealing with (the kind of crime) that Framingham or Woonsocket is dealing with,” Semerjian said, adding, “Is the fear real, or imagined?”
Continue reading the article in the Milford Daily News here

You can also find my notes from the full budget hearing Thursday evening here

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Live reporting: Budget Hearing #1

– 7:10 PM Budget: FY 2016 Budget Hearing – 1st Reading

Jim Dacey, Susan Gagner, Jeff Nutting

about $2.5M additional revenue, mostly from property taxes, $300K from local receipts

about what we get every year
the Commonwealth is looking at Chapter 70 which is the school aid funding process, maybe it will change but not today
revenues next year to be about the same

the Town Clerk is not running again
therefore 2 different salaries, one for the current, one for the new one (to be elected)

the four fire fighters currently on via a grant are now fully funded

Regional Assessment reduced as the progress is not going as fast

Health insurance change this year, saving money for taxpayers and employees

we were not able to increase the OPEB budget this year, to do so would have required cuts elsewhere

benefits account for over $600K of the increase
1.3M for the schools
the remainder is spread out among the department
reduced unemployment

Vallee announced that he would not hold tonight but would Thursday hold the following -police, fire, DPW, and education

Town Admin
question on Technology dept expenses, salaries are paid by school
question on salary within TA account, wage increase for only 9-10 months of the deputy; includes in the expense account the public information

are we spending enough to take care of the problems with the drug problem
Semerjian - we have enough people to do what is needed, we are all behind the ball on the drug problem, it is not like motor vehicle incidents can be reduced by folks on the street

salary amount does include the deputy chief

question on ambulances, we are currently running 2, with what we have is that enough?

with what we have it is not in this budget, it is one of the pressing issues
3 calls 365 times, at least once a day now, it is a pressing issue

it is personnel related, we have a solution to grow the budget this year and the next couple of years to add a 3rd ambulance 

there are so many variable, it is trending, where it goes past that is anyone's guess; we will cover a foreseeable problem

Mercer - the schools are a major part of the town budget
I think the school departments viewing audience is different from the Town's audience

Sabolinski - thanks for approving the capital budget, we have not had a chance to do so before. we will keep you appraised with how the implementation goes with the chromebooks for the middle schools, different from the high school implementation

budget at 56.9M
48.4% of the budget is funded via Chap 70
anticipate State and Federal grants as well as some one time use of revolving fund to 'balance' the budget
the biggest addition to the budget is staffing
the elementary levels are decreasing, high school grows, middle school increasing but not rapidly
in this budget we reduce 5 elementary positions
added one to the HS; science has exploded
also 4 FTE 2 at Annie Sullivan, 2 at Remington to address class size problems
adding three elementary math specialists, an FTE for an ELL teacher
actually a plus 4 positions

1.3M still accounts for the bulk of the increase

bulk of the increase is the collective bargaining agreement

that clears it up a lot, thanks

retirees, last year 23

attrition can not be budgeted per the forensic audit from 2008

retirees, expecting at least 10 for this year

street lighting
how did the rates stay the same?

we made our solar deal with the nuns, that was number one in maintaining the budget dollars and avoiding the increase

we may still see some increases as there are underground wiring to be replaced for the lights

how close does this put us to the required?
the required is 900K
we are above the minimum hours, above the materials purchased, 
the formula requires a 2.5% increase over a three year average
we are not going to get there
we are getting waivers and will keep asking for them

the waivers are an annual request, we meet 2 out of 3 of their requirements and our budget is going up so that is good. We also hosted the commissioners here recently

once construction gets started, doesn't make sense to add now and have them not working when the library is 

if you were given $200K, how would you use it?
if we got it now, we don't know when we are going to be closed, or some section of the building during the construction
wait until after the construction to get a better answer

we could use for programming and library services

what is our total?
as of 2013 it was 89M, we just contracted to update it
we did form a trust, we are investigating investment options
we will transfer the money to the trust later this year

we would need 1.8 or 1.9 to invest each year
we are putting in 400K and should be putting in 2M

we can't put any more in this at this time
maybe some additional free cash from the capital account

the game plan is to put 10% of free cash each year
Wall St looks at the game plan and good faith effort
I think we are covered for now but it will continue to be an issue

what is OPEB?
Other Post Employment Benefits
for retirees and current employees
about 600 people on health insurance
currently pays 68% of the cost

it should be fully funded by 2031
health insurance was a negligible amount fro many years

which is why we are looking for part-timers to avoid paying the health insurance cost now and for the future

Charles River Assessment
an increase of 671K

due to the EPA regulations, this is the renovation of the plant, reducing phosphorous outflows, we own about 65% of the plant so that is our portion

clarification on who is required for Thursday

Live reporting: Town Council - June 10, 2015

Present: Feldman, Padula, Mercer, Kelly, Vallee, Pfeffer, Bissanti, Williams, Dellorco
Absent: none

– May 6, 2015, May 20, 2015
motion to approve, seconded, passed 9-0

– This meeting is being recorded by Franklin TV and shown on Comcast channel 11 and Verizon channel 29. This meeting may be recorded by others.




– Purple Heart Presentation

Senator Ross remarks on the efforts of the VFW to recognize as a "Purple Heart Community"
a resolution was made on Capitol Hill

a collaborative effort as Representative Roy joined in reading the resolution

design of the purple heart developed early on
oldest medal still being award today

August 7th as purple heart day

"purple is the perfect blending of blue and red" - Senator Ross

Monday, June 8, 2015

Franklin, MA: Town Council - Agenda - June 11, 2015


– This meeting is being recorded by Franklin TV and shown on Comcast channel 11 and Verizon channel 29. This meeting may be recorded by others.




– 7:10 PM Budget: FY 2016 Budget Hearing – 2nd Reading




1. Resolution15-37:Adoption of the FY 2016 Budget





– Negotiations, Litigation, Real Property, as May Be Required


Franklin Municipal Building
Franklin Municipal Building

The one page agenda for this meeting can be found here:

The FY 2016 Budget voting document was included in the agenda for the 1st session on Wednesday, June 10th. All the individual FY 2016 budget documents can be found here

The agenda for the Wednesday session can be found here