House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop) and Senator Joseph A. Boncore (D-Winthrop) joined their colleagues in the Massachusetts Legislature to pass a $39.145 billion budget that prioritizes the needs of municipalities and protects funding that supports those most in need, especially individuals grappling with addiction, homelessness and the Commonwealth’s children.
The spending bill reflects an active response to an unpredictable revenue shortfall through responsible and forward-looking solutions.
“I’m proud that in the midst of a tough economic climate, we came to an agreement on a fiscally-responsible budget that minimizes cuts and protects our most vulnerable citizens,” Speaker DeLeo said.
“Despite this year’s financial difficulties, Senate and House leadership crafted a responsible budget that invests in our communities’ most valuable services and programs,” said Senator Boncore. “The inclusion of $250,000 for the regional health center in Winthrop and East Boston is a critical investment for substance abuse services in the fight against opioid addiction.”
District priorities include:
$250,000 for CAPIC’s Emergency Services Program
$900,000 for the Metropolitan Beaches Commission
$25,000 for the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce
$250,000 for a Child Safety grant for the town of Winthrop
Although the Commonwealth was faced with an unforeseeable decrease in tax revenue, the Legislature was able to maintain its record-high investments in local aid. The final budget increases both local education funding and Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA), boosting UGGA by 4.3 percent. It provides $55 in per-pupil-aid, more than doubling last year’s expenditure, and fully funds Special Education Circuit Breaker.
In addition to local education funding, the Legislature continues to emphasize to the impact that high-quality Early Education and Care (EEC) has on the lives of our residents – both children and adults – by making targeted investments to support the EEC workforce while expanding access to high-quality programming. EEC investments include a $12.5 million rate reserve, $4M to ensure access to quality EEC programming, including continued support for pre-kindergarten expansion opportunities.
Recognizing that education and economic development are intrinsically paired, the budget enhances the Legislature’s focus on bolstering job opportunities for residents of all skillsets in diverse regions of the Commonwealth through programs including:
Invests $2 million in the Big Data Innovation and Workforce Fund, to promote the big data and analytics industries, provide tools for related career development and explore how analytics can help address problems of public concern;
MassCAN: $1.7 million to establish and enhance widespread, progressive computer science curriculum in public school through a public-private matching program;
Provides $1 million for technical grants for small business;
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;
Provides $1 million for the John Adams Innovation Institute;
Continues to fund the Massachusetts Manufacturing Partnership, a program that continues to show results in closing the skills gap.
Since FY12, the Legislature has increased funding for substance addiction services by more than 65 percent and passed two landmark bills to help address this public health epidemic. This year’s budget makes notable investments for behavioral health, including new funding of more than $27 million for the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services which will open an estimated 125 residential treatment beds and:
$3.1 million for Recovery High Schools;
$1 million for the Substance Abuse Trust Fund;
$1 million for the Attorney General to fund programs designed to combat opioid addiction;
$3 million for Medication Assisted Therapy in emergency rooms.
In additional to behavioral health and substance addiction initiatives, the FY17 budget features numerous provisions to support Massachusetts’ most vulnerable citizens including:
Increases the Department of Children & Families’ budget by more than $33.1 million to support more than 600 recent hires, including 281 new hires for FY17.
Increases the Department of Developmental Services’ budget by almost $44 million;
Boosts funding for Family Respite Services to assist an addition 3,000 families;
Provides more than $30 million for domestic violence and sexual assault prevention and treatment programs;
Increases the Councils on Aging formula grant to $10 per individual, per year.
The Legislature has a longstanding history of enacting effective programs to combat homelessness. As of March 31, 2016, Massachusetts’ shelter population fell below 4,000 for the first time since August of 2013; and the number of families in hotels and motels has dropped by more than 1,500. This year the House continues to enhance its efforts by providing:
More than $155 million for the Emergency Assistance Family Shelter Program;
$85.3 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program;
About $32 million for the HomeBASE program.
The budget now goes to the Governor Charles Baker who could eliminate some of the proposed expenditures in the budget.