Legislature Passes Balanced Budget for New Fiscal Year:Focuses on Supporting Vulnerable Residents and Fostering Sustainable Economic Growth

Friday, July 28, 2017
By Transcript Staff

The Massachusetts Legislature recently passed a $40.2 billion FY18 budget which represents a commitment to fiscal responsibility. The spending bill protects vulnerable residents through investments in early education and care (EEC), substance addiction initiatives, homelessness programs, and funding to help individuals with developmental disabilities.

This budget takes comprehensive action to promote sustained economic health through a $100 million deposit to the stabilization fund which will result in projected balance of more than $1.4 billion.

“In the midst of a tough fiscal climate we’ve delivered a fiscally-responsible budget that makes targeted investments and protects our most vulnerable citizens,” House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop) said. “I am particularly proud of the work we’ve done on early education and care, which will have a lasting impact on both the workforce and the Commonwealth’s children, and supporting those battling addiction.”

“I want to thank Speaker DeLeo and Chairman Dempsey for shepherding a responsible state budget through the legislature,” said Representative RoseLee Vincent (D-Revere).  “Along with Speaker DeLeo and Senator Boncore, I am thrilled we were able to include many of Revere’s budgetary priorities in the final budget.  I commend the Speaker and the Senator for their efforts and I am proud that together, the three of us were able to secure funding in areas that are critical to our community.  In addition to local priorities, the budget that the legislature sent to the Governor’s desk includes targeted investments in key areas which will enhance the quality of life for many of the Commonwealth’s citizens.”

“The legislature’s budget recommendations continue to invest in vital programs and services in Revere and Winthrop. This year’s budget upholds its commitment our community by continued investment in our public health and safety and our natural resources. By funding Revere’s SUDI, Winthrop’s CASA, and Metropolitan Beaches, this budget stays committed to helping people afflicted by the opioid epidemic and providing safe spaces for our families to enjoy” said Senator Boncore.

 

Items particular to

 Winthrop and Revere:

$25,000 each for the Winthrop and Revere Chambers of Commerce

$250,000 each for Winthrop and Revere Child Safety grants

$25,000 to support Community Action for Safe Alternatives (CASA)

About $1.2 million for the maintenance and operation of the Metropolitan Beaches

More than $1 million for Directed State Police Patrols

$250,000 for CAPIC’s Emergency Services Program

$50,000 grant for Revere’s Substance Use Disorder Initiatives

The FY18 budget makes unprecedented investments to improve Massachusetts’ early education and care system, with a focus on supporting the EEC workforce and providing access to high-quality learning opportunities to ensure children are better prepared for academic success. The budget provides $15 million for the early educator rate reserve and $4 million to support quality programming and workforce training. The Legislature also builds on its notable commitment to behavioral health by providing $2.5 million for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation grant to help early detection and prevention efforts.

Recognizing that municipalities have unique and diverse needs, the Legislature continues to fund local aid at historic levels. This budget increases Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) by $40 million and local education aid (Chapter 70) by almost $119 million. The increase to Chapter 70 guarantees that every school district will receive a minimum of $30 per pupil in FY18. The budget also begins to implement the Foundation Budget Review Commission’s recommendations by making adjustments to more accurately reflect employee health benefits.

In 2014, under the House’s leadership, Massachusetts passed a nationally-heralded gun safety law which includes the Safe and Supportive Schools initiative. This budget bolsters continued efforts by directing the Safe and Supportive Schools Commission to establish an infrastructure to help schools leverage and coordinate community based health, youth development and social services resources that enable students to achieve well-being and academic success.

In addition to local education investments, the House funds numerous programs to support college students, including $96 million in state scholarship opportunities, and provides increased funding for higher education campuses across the state including increases from FY17 of:

$5.3 million for the University of Massachusetts;

$2.5 million for State Universities;

$5.6 million for Community Colleges.

It also provides $1.55 million for the Intern Partnership program to help young innovators to get a head start on their futures by matching stipends for interns at innovation start-ups.

Creates the UMass Innovation Voucher program and provides $2 million to encourage start-ups and manufacturing companies to partner with the university’s research and development facilities.

Invests $4.25 million in the STEM Starter Academy to strengthen and expand STEM programming in community colleges. The program has shown incredible early success by connecting students with employment opportunities. It has also resulted in a national award for Springfield Tech Community College.

Since FY12, the Legislature has increased funding for substance addiction services to unprecedented levels and passed two landmark bills to help address this public health epidemic. This year’s budget makes notable investments related to behavioral health and addiction, including almost $132.5 million for the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services (BSAS), including $1 million for supportive case management services and $1 million for expanding access to residential rehabilitation services. The FY18 budget also sets aside $4.3 million for suicide prevention efforts.

Emphasizing increased access to permanent housing options has proven effective to combat homelessness in Massachusetts. For example, the caseload for hotels and motels is expected to zero out by the end of this fiscal year and projections indicate that caseloads for emergency assistance will return to pre-recession levels.

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