BOSTON – Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury) joined colleagues who serve on the Senate Committee on Ways and Means Tuesday to announce a $39.497 billion budget recommendation for Fiscal Year 2017. The budget recommends targeted investments in a variety of areas to build resilient children, families and communities to better position the Commonwealth for future success.
The FY 2017 budget includes $39.497B in total spending, an increase of 2.6% over FY 2016 estimated spending, and invests in key areas related to local aid, education, children’s health and safety, housing, health and human services, workforce training and economic development. The Committee’s budget recommendations limit the use of one-time revenue sources and protect the state’s Stabilization Fund.
“During difficult financial times, this budget maintains the Senate‘s commitment to the needs of the residents of our Commonwealth,” said Sen. Moore. “As Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Higher Education, I am particularly proud of this year’s targeted investments to support the Commonwealth’s network of higher education institutions. This budget also recognizes that undergraduate success is largely dependent on a strong academic foundation at early stages in life. That is why I am also pleased with the Committee’s efforts to increase funding and opportunities for early education, and to provide the tools to support proven policy initiatives and substance abuse prevention being carried out in communities across the state.
The Committee’s budget takes a holistic approach to early childhood education and care and elementary and secondary education, with a focus on building family and community relationships.
• $4.63B in Chapter 70 education aid, a $116.1M increase benefiting every school district, including a minimum increase of $55 per pupil and 85% effort reduction to bring school districts closer to their target spending.
• $10M for salary increases to early education providers.
• $2M for new preschool expansion grants to expand high-quality preschool programs that prepare young children for future educational success.
• $750K for the Mentoring Matching Grant program, a $250K increase to serve an additional 500 children in empowering youth-adult relationships.
• $500K for a new two-generation pilot program to embed parent mentors and support services into existing early education and after school programs.
The budget also invests in children’s mental health, safety and welfare in an effort to ensure all children grow up in a supportive environment.
• $223.5M for Department of Children and Families (DCF) Social Workers, a $19.6M increase over the FY 2016 funding level to allow DCF to hire an additional 100 social workers and 125 social worker technicians, moving closer to achieving an 18:1 caseload ratio.
• $88.1M for Children’s Mental Health Services.
• $12.5M for Family Resource Centers (FRCs), a $2.6M increase over the FY 2016 funding level, to expand FRCs to additional communities, giving more families the opportunity to receive crucial mental health, substance abuse treatment and family support services.
• $1M for the Office of the Child Advocate and language to increase its independence to further its mission to protect the health, safety and well-being of children under the care of the Commonwealth.
The Committee’s budget seeks to build intergenerational support systems and strengthen families to contribute to better educational, health and economic outcomes for children, including investments in programs to connect individuals, families and vulnerable populations with housing and supportive services.
• $100M for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program, including additional funding to allow for 350 to 400 new rental assistance vouchers.
• $6.2M for the Alternative Housing Voucher Program to provide nearly 200 new vouchers for low income people with disabilities and help them transition from nursing homes to stable, independent housing.
• $2M for housing and supportive services for unaccompanied homeless youth.
The Committee’s budget also makes targeted investments to promote self-sufficiency among low income families and help them secure affordable childcare, transportation, food and other basic needs while connecting pursuing education and job training opportunities. The budget increases the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) clothing allowance from $200 per child to $250 per child and invests $2.6M in a new transportation benefit for approximately 10,000 participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Employment and Training Program. The budget also invests $1M in a new common application portal to help low income families enroll in MassHealth, SNAP nutrition benefits and other state benefits in one streamlined process.
The Committee’s budget increases funding for health and human services in a range of areas to improve access to high quality health care and enhance services for individuals with disabilities, seniors and other vulnerable groups that are often under-served.
• $135.4M for substance abuse prevention and treatment, an increase of $19.4M over FY 2016 spending to allow for 150 new residential treatment beds and other lifesaving programs.
• $28.1M for the Elder Protective Services Program, a $5M increase from FY 2016, to enhance efforts to investigate cases of elder abuse or neglect.
• $14.1M for local Councils on Aging, increasing the formula grant to $10 per senior per year and strengthening local senior center community programming and services.
• $13.9M to fully fund Turning 22 Services for the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind and Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, and $8M for the Department of Developmental Services Turning 22 program, a $1M increase, to help young people with disabilities transition to the adult services system.
The Senate Ways and Means budget invests in the 351 cities and towns across the Commonwealth to strengthen local services and build healthy and resilient communities.
• $1.02B for Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA), an increase of $42.1M over the FY 2016 funding level, for municipal investments in education, public safety, roads and bridges and health care.
• $281.1M to fully fund the Special Education Circuit Breaker to reimburse school districts for high costs of educating students with disabilities at the full 75% reimbursement rate.
• $87.5M to mitigate the financial impact on school districts when students leave to attend charter schools.
• $84.1M for Regional Transit Authorities.
• $13M for the Massachusetts Cultural Council to support the state’s thriving creative economy.
• $9M for municipal libraries across the state.
The Committee’s budget invests in workforce training, economic development and public higher education to prepare Massachusetts students and residents to join the workforce and ensure the Commonwealth’s economy continues to grow and lead.
• $521.3M for the University of Massachusetts, our world-class public research university system, a $20.5M increase over FY 2016 funding, in addition to the new flexibility provided by tuition retention.
• $281.7M for the fifteen community colleges and $258.4M for the nine state universities across the Commonwealth, reflecting a combined increase of $24.4M over FY 2016 funding levels.
• $11.5M for wages for the Youth-At-Risk Summer Jobs program, providing valuable work experience and structured work-readiness training for low income students.
• $4M for Workforce Competitiveness Grants, a $1.8M increase over the FY2016 funding level, to invest in both the current and long-term workforce needs of the Massachusetts economy by training and educating unemployed and under-employed workers for high-demand, well-paying jobs.
• $3M for the Innovation Institute at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MassTech), which works to foster a favorable environment for the development, growth and retention of technology and innovation clusters across the state.
• $350K for a new public-private partnership matching grant program to establish college savings accounts for children in grades 7 through 12, a key way to encourage low income students to pursue higher education and help close income and racial educational attainment gaps.
Senators can file amendments to the Senate Ways and Means recommendations until this Thursday at 5 p.m. The full Senate will then debate the Fiscal Year 2017 budget in formal session beginning Tuesday, May 24th. The FY 2017 Senate Ways and Means Budget Recommendations are available on the Legislature’s website: https://malegislature.gov/Budget/FY2017/Senate.