BOSTON – After a late night of debate, Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury) announced that the State Senate passed a $38.09 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16). The budget makes critical investments in key areas including local aid, education, economic development and services for vulnerable and under-served populations.
“The Senate FY16 budget provides many important resources for the residents of the Second Worcester District and beyond,” said Sen. Moore. “While no budget is ever perfect, I am proud of the hard work that the Senate has put into crafting a budget that addresses many critical areas. This is especially true of the work done to enhance public safety including funding to prevent sexual assault on college campuses and to assist victims of child abuse.”
The budget also reflects the Senate’s continued commitment to local aid for cities and towns.
• $4.51B for Chapter 70 education aid, allowing for a minimum increase of $25 per pupil and bringing school districts closer to their target spending through 50% effort reduction;
• $979.8M for Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) for community investments in education, public safety, roads and bridges and health care;
• $271.6M to fully fund the Special Education Circuit Breaker for the 4th straight year;
• $59M for the Regional School Transportation program, which reimburses regional school districts for the costs of transporting students to and from regional schools;
• $14M for the Massachusetts Cultural Council to support arts, culture and the creative economy in communities across the state and $6M for Regional Tourist Councils;
• In addition to Chapter 70 education aid and the Special Education Circuit Breaker, the budget invests in education at all levels: from early education to college to workforce development;
• $252M for Income Eligible Childcare and $12M to reduce the waitlist for childcare services;
• $10.1M for the Head Start program and $5.3M for the Early Educator Salary Reserve.
• $1.5M for the STEM Pipeline Fund;
• $1.5M for the Massachusetts Computing Attainment Network (MassCAN) initiative.
• $30.9M for the Adult Basic Education program to reduce the waitlist for adult education and connect adults with skills they need to join the workforce;
• $12.5M increase for State Universities and Community Colleges and $18.8M increase for the University of Massachusetts over FY 2015.
The budget also included many Moore-sponsored amendments which support important statewide initiatives and respond to the needs of local communities within the Second Worcester District. Several of the amendments successfully adopted include:
• $15,000 for Auburn Youth and Family Services to be applied toward student civic engagement and summer programming;
• $2.75 million in increased funding for the Early Education Salary Rate Reserve;
• $100,000 for the Department of Higher Education to engage a consultant to report on campus sexual assault initiatives within the public higher education system. The information compiled by the consultant also will assist in the development of a system-wide sexual violence plan;
• The establishment of a Special Commission to study the feasibility of streamlining the registration process for new small businesses by increasing information sharing among state agencies. The motivation behind the Moore-sponsored amendment is to increase efficiencies with a particular focus on small businesses;
• $150,000 to support the Bottom Line program which provides college transition and college retention services for low-income or aspiring first-generation college students
As a member of the Special Senate Committee on Opioid Addiction Prevention, Treatment and Recovery Options, Sen. Moore also voted in favor of provisions added to the budget to break the cycle of addiction through investments in substance abuse prevention, recovery and treatment, including:
• $10M for the Substance Abuse Trust Fund to fund a range of treatment services, including detoxification, clinical stabilization, transitional support, residential services and outpatient treatment;
• $5M for more than 150 new clinical stabilization beds;
• $1.5M for grants to school districts to hire mental health and substance abuse counselors;
• $3.1M for Recovery High Schools, including $1M to establish two new schools;
• A new Municipal Naloxone Bulk Purchase Program which allows municipalities to purchase the lifesaving overdose reversal drug commonly referred to as Narcan at discounted rates.
A Conference Committee will be appointed to resolve differences between the Senate budget and the version passed by the House of Representatives in April. The budget will then go before the Governor for final consideration and signing. The new fiscal year begins on July 1st.