Official Joint Press Release on the 2014 Budget

 The General Court of Massachusetts

State House, Boston, 02133-1053

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 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                        Contacts:  Laura Oggeri         Seth Gitell

July 1, 2013                                                                      Senate President      House Speaker

(617) 722-1500      (617) 722-2500

 

 

House, Senate Pass Comprehensive FY14 Budget

Includes Strong Investments for Essential Services and Programs

 

(BOSTON) – The Massachusetts Legislature today enacted a $34.06 billion state budget for fiscal year 2014 (FY14). The spending plan makes important investments to rebuild the Commonwealth’s essential services and programs, including local aid, education, housing, public safety, and health and human services, and supports the ongoing recovery of the local economy.

 

The budget reflects the priorities of the Commonwealth and the needs of cities, towns and residents, while also maintaining the highest level of fiscal responsibility and accountability, leaving the state’s rainy day fund at $1.46 billion.

 

“As a state with an AA+ bond rating, we were able enact a strong spending plan that makes proactive and responsible investments to help prepare our students for the jobs of the future, such as our STEM Starter Academy and our funding of the University of Massachusetts,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “This budget demonstrates our commitment to education and job creation while protecting those most in need of help.”

 

“This budget makes important and thoughtful investments in many of our core services and programs in the Commonwealth, including education, care for the elderly, housing, distressed hospitals and mental health,” Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) said. “I want to thank the conference committee for their commitment to producing a final budget that maintains our fiscal health and continues our economic growth. Our recovery continues to move forward but it is critical that we still remain cautious in our spending and focus on the priorities that will keep the Commonwealth moving forward.”

 

“Through this budget, the Legislature recognizes the economic challenges facing the Commonwealth and its residents,” said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Brian S. Dempsey (D – Haverhill). “Our goal is a renewed focus on governmental oversight and accountability to eliminate fraud and delays and to ensure that those who need the Commonwealth’s assistance receive it. We pair this focus with an emphasis on higher education as a means to provide our residents with a competitive edge that will continue to support the state’s economic recovery.”

 

“This budget makes a number of responsible and sustainable investments in human services programs, local aid, and education,” said Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairman Stephen M. Brewer (D-Barre). “The joint spending plan approved today moves away from some of the painful cuts of the past and funds a number of thoughtful and significant priorities. We should be very proud of the important investments we have made here; they will impact some of the Commonwealth’s neediest residents, including eliminating wait lists for the elderly and prioritizing early education, while ensuring that we continue to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government programs.”

 

“I am especially pleased that this budget makes important investments in local aid, higher education, the environment, and human services.  We also continue to build on the reforms of recent years to ensure that tax-payer dollars are spent wisely and efficiently,” said House Ways and Means Committee Vice Chairman Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington).  “Our cities, towns and local school districts will benefit greatly from this budget, at the same time that we are able to build our rainy-day reserve fund for future economic stability.”

 

“I am very pleased with the FY’14 budget that was sent to the Governor today,” said Senate Ways and Means Committee Vice Chairman Jennifer L. Flanagan (D-Leominster). “We were able to make targeted investments in local aid, education aid, and in the area of mental health.  Chairman Brewer and I worked very closely to ensure that the diverse needs of the Commonwealth were met in this spending bill.”

 

“I applaud Speaker DeLeo and Chairman Dempsey on their tireless leadership throughout this year’s budget process,” said House Ways and Means Committee Assistant Vice-Chairwoman Cheryl Coakley-Rivera (D-Springfield). “I am proud to have served on the House Committee on Ways and Means under their leadership. This budget is a comprehensive piece of legislation which provides assistance to the most vulnerable populations throughout the Commonwealth, while maintaining a level of fiscal responsibility that allows the Massachusetts economy to remain strong.”

 

“This budget is a culmination of many hours of hard work by the Conference Committee, Chairman Brewer, Vice Chair Flanagan and the Ways and Means staff,” said Senate Ways and Means Committee Assistant Vice-Chairman Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett.)  “This comprehensive plan addresses many needs and priorities of our business community and the people of the Commonwealth.  This budget provides a solid investment in many areas such as our education and transportation systems, elder care, veterans and children.”

 

The budget represents the Legislature’s continuing commitment to cities and towns, boosting investments in Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA), Chapter 70, and the Special Education Circuit Breaker.  For the first time since FY10 UGGA funding will increase to $920 million, an increase of more than $21 million, due largely in part to gaming licensing revenues.

 

This year’s spending bill underscores Massachusetts’ ongoing commitment to strengthening its educational systems through both new and updated provisions. The budget increases key areas of local education funding including $4.31 billion for Chapter 70, full funding for educating high-needs special education students and $51.5 million for Regional School Transportation. The budget also allocates a $15 million investment in early education that will take approximately 2,000 children off the waitlist for income-eligible child care.

 

The budget also takes decisive action to increase funding for the University of Massachusetts, state universities and community colleges, including $478.9 million for UMass to prevent tuition and fee increases in the upcoming school year. It creates a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Starter Academy program to be implemented through the Department of Higher Education. This program will benefit a targeted population of students at one or more of the Commonwealth’s Community Colleges who have expressed a high level of interest in STEM majors and careers.

 

The budget provides numerous health and human services provisions including $38.3 million to increase rates paid to Disproportionate Share Hospitals to assist struggling hospitals with modernization assistance and funding payment reform. It also provides crucial funding for mental health services through an increase of $8.4 million and increasing substance abuse services by $6.7 million. This funding will maintain at least 626 inpatient mental health beds, including 45 beds at Taunton State Hospital and for child, adolescent and emergency mental health services.

 

Additionally, the spending bill allocates $187.2 million to elder home care services, an increase of $6.2 million that will eliminate the 1,500 person waitlist for elder home care services, and increases funding for housing programs by $18.2 million to ensure safe and sustainable housing options. The majority of this increase will allow for more than 1,000 new housing vouchers.

 

The budget also maintains the Legislature’s commitment to government efficiency and transparency by implementing key reforms to the Department of Transitional Assistance and including funding to examine the state’s early education, public health and criminal justice programs to determine how efficiency can be improved within these programs.

 

Lastly, the budget expands and funds numerous economic development initiatives, including more than $20 million in anticipated gaming revenue to a variety of manufacturing-related programs.

 

The budget now goes to the Governor for his approval.

 

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