Official Press Release on the FY19 Budget from the Office of the Senate President
BOSTON– 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.
“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 has passed tonight 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 budget approved by the Senate tonight increases funding for critical priorities such as Special Education, Regional School Transpiration, and municipal police training, while resisting broad-based tax increases and creating more transparency and tool for making state government more efficient,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R- Gloucester). “Importantly, it also sets the stage for fully funding the commitments we have made in statute for our local school districts.”
“This budget builds on a strong foundation of consistent leadership from the Senate ensuring families in this Commonwealth have the resources, services, and programming necessary to succeed,” said Senator Joan B. Lovely, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “This budget emphasizes the Senate’s strong commitment to supporting education, seniors, health care, public safety, and economic opportunity. I’m proud of the work this body has done to put forth a spending bill that supports these important issues and all residents of the Commonwealth.”
“This Senate budget takes big strides on issues of equity, empowerment, and opportunity,” said Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, Assistant Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “It includes crucial, watershed changes to support immigrants and increase public safety, broad investments in K-12 education, much-needed supports for children and families, and increased government transparency and accountability. Under the leadership of Senate President Chandler and Chairwoman Spilka, the Senate has produced a budget that balances the needs of communities and invests in our bedrock values as a Commonwealth.”
The budget invests significantly in education for people of all ages and backgrounds and focuses in particular on elementary and secondary education, including $4.91B for the Chapter 70 education formula, its highest level ever. This funding allows for a minimum aid increase of $30 per pupil for every school district across the state and 100% effort reduction to bring all school districts to their target local contribution. The budget also continues to phase in the Foundation Budget Review Commission (FBRC) recommendations to more adequately fund school districts and ensure high quality education for all students.
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.
In line with the Senate’s continued efforts on health care cost containment, the budget provides MassHealth with new tools to tackle the rising cost of pharmaceutical drugs, setting an annual spending target and permitting the Secretary of Health and Human Services to pursue rebates from pharmaceutical manufacturers. This policy change allows for savings without changing eligibility standards, reducing access to certain pharmaceuticals or compromising access to comprehensive health coverage.
The budget 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. Policy changes include raising the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) state match to 30% of the federal credit, eliminating the failed state policy that denies Department of Transitional Assistance benefits to children conceived while the family was receiving assistance and increasing the clothing allowance to $350 per child to help families secure their basic needs.
The budget also continues to invest in initiatives that connect Massachusetts workers with economic opportunities and boost thriving sectors of our economy.
The Committee’s budget invests $452.7M in low income housing and homelessness services to increase access to quality, affordable housing, a necessary foundation for people seeking to climb the economic ladder.
Recognizing that each community and region of the Commonwealth has unique assets and needs, the Senate Ways and Means budget directs significant investments to local aid and community services and empowers municipalities to provide vital education, public safety and infrastructure services.
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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