Senate Passes Fiscal Year 2019 Budget

The Senate voted today on a $41.49 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2019, including targeted investments to create opportunities and ensure access to the tools that individuals, children and families need to succeed in the economy and in their communities. The budget invests in key areas related to education, local aid, health and human services, housing and tools for low income families, while limiting the use of one-time revenue sources and directing $88.5M to the state’s Stabilization Fund.

“The Senate version of the Fiscal Year 2019 budget represents the shared values of the people of Commonwealth,” said Sen. Joseph A. Boncore (D-Winthrop). “This budget makes important investments in local programs that help families and individuals battling substance use, supports public safety officers, and reiterates our commitment to providing adequate funding for our public schools. Further, the Senate version of the budget makes important investments in programs that provide housing aid to the state’s most vulnerable population and moves Massachusetts closer to transportation equity.”

“Massachusetts has long been a leader in so many areas, including education, health care, civil rights, economic innovation and protecting the vulnerable. The budget we passed today proves we are committed to continuing to lead the way,” said Senator Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “This is a forward-looking budget that reflects our values as a Senate, creates opportunities and invests in our people and our shared future. I am grateful to my colleagues for their collaboration and ideas throughout the process, and I look forward to advancing these priorities in conference committee deliberations.”

“The budget that the Senate passed is committed to providing fairness, equality, and opportunity for all of Massachusetts’ residents,” said Senate President Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester). “We have invested in essential programs, old and new, to ensure that our Commonwealth can provide the best possible healthcare, transportation, housing, and human services in the country. I am incredibly proud of the hard work that Senators and staff put into this budget.”

The Senate Budget adopted on May 24th of this year puts the priorities of the First Suffolk and Middlesex District first by investing.

  • $250,000 in college readiness programming for adults
  • $100,000 for a substance use prevention and intervention program run by the St. Francis House in Boston
  • $50,000 for the Boston Asian Youth Essential Services which works with at-risk youth in Chinatown
  • $35,000 for substance use prevention and intervention services programming run by CASA in Winthrop
  • $50,000 for the Rossetti-Cowan Senior Center in Revere
  • $50,000 for the Latina Circle, and organization that helps bridge the educational, income, and professional gap of Latinos in the Commonwealth
  • $65,000 for new equipment for the Winthrop Fire Department
  • $75,000 for the Boston Pops Fireworks 4th of July Spectacular Celebrations at the DCR Hat Shell in Boston
  • $25,000 for maintenance of the historic Magazine Beach in Cambridge

Senator Boncore, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Housing, worked with his colleagues to include in the Senate budget investments of up to $452.7M in low income housing and homelessness services to increase access to quality, affordable housing, and a necessary foundation for people seeking to climb the economic ladder.

  • $48.2M for assistance and services for homeless individuals
  • $156M for Emergency Assistance Family Shelters
  • $97.5M for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP)
  • $18.5M for Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT), including $3M to expand eligibility to include persons with disabilities, seniors, unaccompanied youth and individuals
  • $6.5M for nearly 160 new rental subsidies for individuals with mental health challenges
  • $5M for the Alternative Housing Voucher Program providing rental assistance to people with disabilities and $2.7M for a new grants program to improve or create accessible affordable housing units
  • $3.3M for housing and supportive services for unaccompanied homeless youth
  • $1.3M for the Tenancy Preservation Program to provide services throughout the expanded Housing Court system

Recognizing that each community and region of the Commonwealth has unique assets and needs, the Senate Ways and Means budget directs significant investments to school funding, local aid and community services and empowers municipalities to provide vital education, transportation and infrastructure services.

  • $1.1B for unrestricted general government aid to support community investments in education, health care, public safety and roads and bridges
  • Language was included that reassesses the way the Commuter Rail determines their fares to ensure equity, that studies the possibility instituting dynamic tolling and its effects on traffic and driving behavior, and ensures that that the Commonwealth is not losing revenue from tolling that could be collected from neighboring states
  • $4.91B for Chapter 70 education funding
  • $319.3M to fully fund the Special Education Circuit breaker
  • $100M to reimburse school districts for costs incurred when students leave to attend charter schools
  • $4.7M for the School Breakfast program and a policy change to ensure free and reduced-price breakfast is served after the start of the school day
  • Boston, Cambridge, Revere, and Winthrop got an increase in unrestricted local aid over the Fiscal Year 2018 budget
  • $195.9M for Boston up from $189.3M in FY18
  • $22.2M for Cambridge up from $21.4M in FY18
  • $10.6M for Revere up from $10.2M in FY18
  • $4.4 for Winthrop up from $4.2M in FY18
  • Further,  Boston, Cambridge, Revere, and Winthrop got an increase in Chapter 70 education funding over the Fiscal Year 2018 budget
  • $220M for Boston up from $218M in FY18
  • $15.4M for Cambridge up from $14.4M in FY18
  • $63.1M for Revere up from $60M in FY18
  • $7M for Winthrop up from $$6.5M in FY18

The budget continues Massachusetts’ leadership in providing health and human services, investing in health care for low income residents and vulnerable populations, services for people struggling with mental illness and substance misuse and resources for children, seniors, veterans and individuals with disabilities. Further, it invests in programs and advances policies to encourage self-sufficiency and economic mobility for low income families, providing them with the tools to secure their essential needs and develop skills to join the workforce.

  • $142.9M for a range of substance abuse treatment, intervention and recovery support services, including funding to open five new recovery centers
  • $92.5M for children’s mental health services, including $3.9M for the Massachusetts Child Psychiatric Access Program
  • $33.4M for adult basic education services to improve access to skills and tools necessary to join the workforce
  • $10.3M for summer jobs and work-readiness training for at-risk youth
  • $8M for the Shannon Grants which provides cities and police departments the tools and resources to help at-youth become positive contributors to their communities
  • $2.5M for the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative Innovation Institute

The Senate also adopted an amendment to protect the civil rights of immigrants and prevent state resources from being used to enforce federal immigration law or to establish a registry based on a person’s protected status.

A Conference Committee will now work out the differences between the Senate budget and the version passed by the House of Representatives in April. Fiscal Year 2019 begins on July 1, 2018.

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