BOSTON – Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury) announced the passage of the Fiscal Year 2020 state budget, which invests in programs and services across the Commonwealth.
Funded at $43.1 billion, the budget makes major investments in education, housing, substance use disorder services, health care, and other areas while projecting a more than $476 million deposit into the Stabilization Fund – bringing the fund’s balance to more than $3 billion to safeguard the future of vital programs and services.
“I take pride in advocating for the needs of our neighbors, and prioritizing funding that will help strengthen our region,” said Senator Moore. “No state budget is ever perfect, but there are many important investments in this Senate budget that will help our communities grow and thrive. I am particularly proud of the strong investments in public education achieved through the passage of this legislation.”
The budget increases Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) by nearly $30 million and provides $5.17 billion in Chapter 70 education funding as part of a $268 million increase for investments in schools over Fiscal Year 2019. In addition, the budget includes a $10.5 million reserve for low-income students while the Joint Committee on Education continues its work on this issue. It also addresses the need for integrated student health and wellness supports, providing $2 million to establish the Supporting Health Alliances Reinforcing Education (SHARE) grant program to address non-academic barriers to school success. The budget expands the role of the Office of the Child Advocate to oversee integrated coordination of education and health programming. Additional education allocations include:
$345 million for Special Education reimbursement;
$115 million for Charter School Reimbursement; and
$75.8 million for Regional School Transportation reimbursement.
The budget builds on the Legislature’s commitment to ensuring children have access to high-quality early education and care (EEC). The budget invests in those who work with children by increasing rates for early education providers by $20 million and supporting continuing education opportunities with community colleges. The conference report provides $7.5 million for the Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative to expand access across the Commonwealth. The budget also includes additional investments into Head Start grants and quality improvement measures in core EEC programming.
The budget represents some of the biggest increases seen in a generation when it comes to housing and homelessness funding. Access to safe, adequate, and affordable housing is essential and provides the foundation from which families and individuals can lead successful lives. This year, the budget continues these efforts by providing:
$116 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP);
$72 million for Public Housing Subsidies;
$8 million for Alternative Housing Voucher Program; and
$53.4 million for Homeless individual shelters.
The budget continues make investments in the Commonwealth’s efforts to fight the opioid epidemic – a public health crisis that has touched nearly every household across the Commonwealth. To help those in need, the budget gives all EMS and ambulance companies access to discounted naloxone, making it more available for use in the field. In addition, the budget includes:
$150.2 million for the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services, which will help create five new recovery centers across Massachusetts and support substance use disorder workforce initiatives; and
$5.5M for a comprehensive statewide strategy for community-based harm reduction services.
The budget includes funding for public safety and the judiciary, including investments to implement last session’s criminal justice reform law. The budget includes:
$4.5million for a new community-based re-entry program;
$24 million for civil legal aid to provide representation for low-income individuals; and
$11 million for Shannon Grants, a competitive grant program to individual municipalities to address heightened levels of gang violence.
The budget calls for more than $283 million in spending for environmental programs. These funding levels will ensure that state keeps up with the needs of its parks and environmental protections programs. These investments include:
$47.25 million for State Parks and Recreation;
$61 million for the Department of Environmental Protection; and
$1.5 million for Watershed Protection.
In the area of labor and economic development, the budget invests in programs that provide job opportunities for residents to participate in the Commonwealth’s thriving economy. These investments include:
$90.5 million for Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs);
$41 million for Adult Basic Education Services;
$7 million for the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund;
$2 million to establish a program to promote and support the Massachusetts restaurant industry;
$500,000 to establish a specialized prevailing wage and construction investigatory and enforcement unit within the Attorney General’s office;
$16 million for summer jobs for at-risk youth; and
$4.8 million for the STEM Starter Academy, to support underperforming students at community colleges interested in pursuing STEM subjects.
MassHealth is the single largest investment that the Commonwealth makes in its residents. This program provides health insurance for our most vulnerable populations: the homeless, the recovering, mothers with children, and the working poor. In addition to funding this key safety net program, the budget also ensures funding for crucial health and human services agencies and providers including:
$109.8 million to continue reforms that protect children at the Department of Children and Families;
$50 million increase in the supplemental rates for nursing homes across the Commonwealth and an emergency task force aimed at helping to bring stability to the industry;
$10 million for a new behavioral health trust fund to support mental health worker loan forgiveness, public awareness campaigns and other initiatives;
$19 million towards the Councils on Aging to help senior citizens; and
Fully funds the Lift the Cap on Kids initiative that removes barriers that prevent families from receiving Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) benefits for certain children.
For the first time in nearly 20 years, the budget will increase the Commonwealth’s contribution into the Community Preservation Act, which will ensure that over $36 million more will be distributed to projects all across the Commonwealth and help raise the state’s match up to 30 percent for investments in open space, affordable housing and historic preservation.
Having been passed by the House and Senate, the legislation now goes to Governor Baker for his signature.
$50,000 shall be expended for infrastructure improvements in the Town of Auburn.
$15,000 shall be expended for the purchase and installation of AED devices and housing at athletic fields, playgrounds, and town facilities and buildings in the Town of Auburn.
$10,000 shall be expended for programs provided by Auburn Youth and Family Services, Inc.
$40,000 shall be expended for student internships with the Town of Grafton and improvements at the Grafton public schools.
$25,000 shall be expended for public safety improvements in the Town of Grafton.
$120,000 shall be expended for improvements in the Town of Millbury.
$25,000 shall be expended for a Millbury Fire Department public safety grant in the Town of Millbury.
$100,000 shall be expended for the development of a water and sewer economic infrastructure feasibility study and master plan in the Town of Leicester.
$15,000 shall be expended for security improvements in Northbridge Public Schools.
$25,000 shall be expended for public safety improvements in the Town of Northbridge.
$50,000 shall be expended for a public safety feasibility study in the Town of Shrewsbury.
$50,000 shall be provided to Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services, Inc. for the Youth Mental Health First Aid program.
$25,000 shall be expended for public safety improvements in the Town of Upton.
$25,000 shall be expended for the Mendon-Upton Regional School District for the purpose of funding the Blackstone Valley Superintendents Consortium's collaborative STEM Initiative.
$50,000 shall be expended for the Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders at the University of Massachusetts memorial medical center and the University of Massachusetts medical school based on the patient-centered medical home concept.
$30,000 shall be expended for homelessness services provided by Hotel Grace in the City of Worcester.
$20,000 shall be expended for renovations of Stearns Tavern in the City of Worcester.
$250,000 shall be expended for the Worcester county court-appointed special advocates program.
$350,000 shall be expended for the Recreation Worcester program.
$225,000 shall be expended for the establishment of the Worcester Trauma and Resilience Collaborative to educate young people in the City of Worcester who have experienced adverse childhood experiences.
$175,000 shall be expended for the purpose of tree re-planting in Worcester.
$50,000 shall be expended for a feasibility study for a public art park to Worcester.
$200,000 for the Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center, Inc. to provide training to community health workers who serve as the patient link to medical and social services for the disenfranchised population throughout the Worcester and MetroWest regions.
$50,000 shall be expended for the Pleasant Street Neighborhood Network Center, Inc. in Worcester.
$70,000 shall be expended for the Friendly House, Inc. in Worcester.
$50,000 shall be expended for the South Worcester Neighborhood Improvement Corporation.
$50,000 shall be expended for the Quinsigamond Community Village Center in Worcester.
$250,000 shall be expended for fire safety equipment in the City of Worcester.
$100,000 shall be expended for the Dismas House of Massachusetts, Inc. in Worcester.