Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury) announced that the Massachusetts Senate passed its version of the Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) state budget. The spending bill provides $42.8B, a 3.2% increase over FY19, to support state programs and to invest in local priorities. During the three-day debate, the Senate considered roughly 1,200 amendments to the budget bill. The FY 2020 budget reduces reliance on the use of one-time revenue sources and directs $268M to the Stabilization Fund to continue to build the Commonwealth’s financial safety net.
“Whether supporting funding for local senior centers, enhanced funding and expanded access to early education programs, or ensuring local communities have increased resources— as a Commonwealth, we have a duty to provide for the common good,” said Senator Moore. “This budget takes an important step forward in responding to the needs of residents. I’m proud to have advocated for the eight communities that I represent.”
The Senate’s budget strengthens Massachusetts’ commitment to being a national leader in ensuring children of all backgrounds have access to greater educational opportunities. Consistent with the Senate’s long-standing commitment to supporting increased investments in education, this budget makes a significant down payment on the work of the Foundation Budget Review Commission (FBRC), and funds Chapter 70 at its highest level ever; $5.176B, an increase of $268.4M over FY 2019.
This historic education investment allows for a minimum aid increase of at least $30 per pupil over FY 2019 for every school district across the state, as well as 100% effort reduction to bring all school districts to their target local contribution. With this record level of investment, this budget focuses on school districts with the most pressing needs and addresses four key areas identified by the FBRC: employee health benefits, special education, English language learners, and low-income students in economically disadvantaged communities. Consequentially, the budget also includes $345M for the Special Education Circuit Breaker, reimbursing school districts for the cost of educating students with disabilities at the statutorily required 75% reimbursement rate. Education investments include:
In response to funding priorities identified by communities within the Second Worcester District, Senator Moore successfully advocated for more than $400K in direct funding assistance including:
· $50K – to update lighting, banners and signage in Drury Square within the Town of Auburn
· $40K – to support student internships with the Town of Grafton, and for security improvements at the Grafton Public Schools
· $100K – to develop a water and sewer economic infrastructure feasibility study and master plan in the Town of Leicester
· $120K – to replace outdated hot water heaters and boilers at the Millbury Housing Authority, and to purchase laptops for the ninth grade students at Millbury High School
· $50K – to fund a public safety feasibility study relative to preliminary planning for a new police station in the Town of Shrewsbury
· $15K – to allow for security camera upgrades at the Northbridge Public Schools
· $25K – to purchase traffic enforcement equipment for the Upton Police Department
· $20K – to support renovations to the historic Stearns Tavern in the City of Worcester
Senator Moore also successfully advocated for an amendment to support the Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders based at the UMass Medical School. The program provides services for youth and young adults with emotional and behavioral challenges and complex mental health conditions.
In an effort to expand no-cost health care services to economically disadvantaged students in the City of Worcester, Senator Moore led a successful initiative to help sustain a satellite health center at the Worcester East Middle School that has existed since 2018. The budgetary provision would direct funding to support a full-time nurse practitioner, medical coordinator and behavioral health provider which are services currently funded by a number of philanthropic partners.
Through another amendment, Senator Moore advocated for $30K to support Hotel Grace which provides critical services to persons who are experiencing homelessness in Worcester. Equipped with 50 beds, the site provides temporary shelter when temperatures drop below freezing to ensure individuals have a safe and warm place to rest and escape the cold. The additional funding will help expand services and the hours of operation.
The budget bill will now be referred a Conference Committee made up of six legislators to resolve differences between versions of the spending package passed by the Senate and House of Representatives. To continue tracking the budget, please visit the Legislature’s website, www.malegislature.gov.