After three days of debate and over a thousand proposed amendments, the $49.73 billion FY23 state budget passed the House of Representatives 155-0 and now goes to the Senate for their consideration.
In the budget Rep. Adrian Madaro, Chair of the Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery, secured $1.265 million in state funding for Eastie programs as well as millions of dollars in funding for significant investments to state programs addressing mental health and substance abuse.
“I’m incredibly proud of the investments the House made in the FY2023 Budget,” said Rep. Madaro. “A budget is a statement of our priorities, and this year the House prioritized essential issues in East Boston and across the Commonwealth. As Chair of the Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery, the historic investments we made in these areas underscore the House’s commitment to prioritizing these issues. I’m also proud to have secured vital funding for community organizations in East Boston to address important issues in our community like food and housing security, youth services, workforce training, and ferry transportation.”
The biggest earmark Madaro was able to secure was $1 million to expand the Eastie ferry pilot program. The earmark will ensure ferry service continues to run between Eastie and the North End until November 20222 with the hopes of continuing regular ferry service between the two neighborhoods indefinitely.
Madaro was able to secure $75,000 for the Housing Support Station run by Maverick Landing Community Services as well as $75,000 for YouthConnect to provide mental health services to high-risk youth.
Another $50,000 in state funding will go to Eastie Farm for food access, climate adaptation, and education.
Madaro’s earmarks include $40,000 for mental health, substance use, and recovery services at Crossroads Family Shelter, the neighborhood’s transitional family homeless shelter.
Finally, Madaro was able to secure $25,000 to the Center for Cooperative Development and Solidarity for worker training and emotional and mental health support.
Madaro said the FY23 House Budget includes over $112 million for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, a $14 million increase from FY22.
“Over the past few years, we have been experiencing a mental health crisis, with self-reported symptoms on the rise and more children and adolescents facing complex needs that our systems are ill-equipped to provide for,” he said.
This includes $3,825,000 for the Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Program (MCPAP), which makes child psychiatry consultations accessible to primary care providers and their patients, and also includes mental health and substance use disorder support for pregnant and postpartum people. The line item also directs $75,000 for the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health, Inc. and the BIRCh Center to continue collaborating on a school-based behavioral health technical assistance center. These additional resources will help providers and caregivers address the challenges they face in serving these populations and will enable the Commonwealth to deliver better care to families and youth.
The budget also includes over $514 million for Adult Mental Health & Support Services, which demonstrates a $4 million increase from FY22.
Madaro said this includes $2 million for jail diversion and police efforts, of which $250,000 is directed towards expansion of safe haven housing for chronically homeless adults with mental health conditions living in a shelter or on the streets in Boston. It also includes $50,000 for the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers to help connect consumers to licensed clinical social workers through the Therapy Matcher program.
“A critical $275 million is invested in Inpatient Facilities & Community Based Mental Health, a $20 million increase from FY22 – for the operation of hospital facilities and community-based mental health services,” said Madaro. “This includes inpatient facilities, which provide continuing care to individuals who require long-term services typically not offered outside of DMH.”
Over $188 million was allocated for the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services (BSAS), a $13 million increase from FY22.
Madaro said this line item carries over FY22 funding for the opening of five new recovery centers, three of which will serve gateway cities. It also directs $4,533,180 for substance use disorder step-down recovery services, as well as other critical recovery services with severely reduced capacity.
“Importantly, the line item includes $3 million for BSAS to provide technical assistance and training to increase the number of providers delivering culturally, ethnically, and linguistically diverse services in communities of color,” said Madaro. “It also includes funding for the Massachusetts Access to Recovery (MA-ATR) program, which offers recovery support for individuals with opioid use disorders (OUD) or those who are at risk of developing one, as well as funds to family intervention and care management services programs, a young adult treatment program and early intervention services for individuals who are dependent on or addicted to alcohol, controlled substances, or both.”
Madaro said this line item further invests in jail diversion to ensure individuals with OUD charged with non-violent offenses receive treatment rather than be incarcerated.
Madaro said Finally, harm reduction remains a key theme of funding in the FY23 budget. “Substance use, recovery and harm reduction initiatives benefit from humane and evidence-based practices that meet people where they are while increasing access to treatment when a person is ready,” he said.
This includes over $1 million for a naloxone distribution program and $6.4 million for harm reduction initiatives more broadly.
“In response to overdose fatalities skyrocketing during the pandemic, we’re also directing the Commonwealth’s agencies to resume annual reporting on the prescribing and treatment history of persons who suffer fatal overdoses to ensure that the Commonwealth can be responsive to changes in substance use and overdose trends and address corresponding risk factors with the best data available,” said Madaro. “We’re also directing the Health Policy Commission to analyze and report on the ongoing effects of COVID-19 on behavioral health-related boarding in emergency departments to help better understand the current boarding crisis.”
In the end Madaro said there is $10 million to expand emergency diversion boarding programs within the Department of Mental Health; $188.6 million for the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services; $12.5 million for behavioral health supports; and $48.3 million for early intervention services, with dedicated funding to help its workforce recover from the pandemic.