Senate Passes FY2015 Supplemental Budget

We share this press release from the Senate Ways and Means Committee. Senator Brownsberger offered the amendments adopted to bill S.21 related to Committee for Public Counsel Services and statewide grand juries.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                 
March 19, 2015

Senate Passes FY2015 Supplemental Budget

BOSTON, MA– The Senate on Thursday voted to pass a $402.2 million supplemental budget to cover costs of increased caseloads, time sensitive deficiencies and unanticipated cost increases in Fiscal Year 2015, announced [SENATOR]. The supplemental budget includes funds to support increased caseloads in the Department of Children and Families and the state emergency shelter system, as well as additional funds for snow and ice removal.

“This mid-year spending bill allows us to sustain critical government services through the end of Fiscal Year 2015 while maintaining a fiscally responsible budget,” said Senator Karen Spilka (D-Ashland), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “These funds support social workers, emergency assistance and shelter for homeless families and other services that help children, families and communities across the Commonwealth. We also provide funding to help our communities continue to recover from this winter’s historic storms.”

“Thank you to Senator Spilka and the members of the Ways and Means Committee for their hard work on this bill,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst). “This legislation puts the Commonwealth on solid footing for the rest of the fiscal year in a responsible way while funding services to help communities and residents across the Commonwealth.”

The supplemental budget includes $7.6 million to support an increase in the Department of Children and Families’ caseloads in foster care, guardianship and adoption and $27.4 million for caseloads in group homes for foster children and community-based services. The bill also includes $51.5 million to address deficiencies in the state emergency assistance homeless shelter program and $3 million to support an increase in the Department of Housing and Community Development’s caseload for HomeBASE, a program that helps families avoid homelessness.

The bill includes $50 million to fund snow and ice removal costs for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and $7 million to reimburse state agencies for extraordinary expenses incurred as a result of severe winter storms.

The bill also allows the University of Massachusetts system to retain tuition collected from in-state students beginning July 1, 2015, which will make the costs to students more transparent. The campuses currently retain tuition collected from out-of-state students only.

In addition, the bill makes technical corrections to several sections of the General Laws, allows for changes to the composition of some state boards and validates thirteen collective bargaining agreements.

The Senate also adopted amendments to temporarily allow the Committee for Public Counsel Services to waive the billable hours cap for private counsel in the children and family law division, to authorize the use of statewide grand juries and to enhance Health Connector reporting requirements.

Last week, the House of Representatives passed a similar supplemental spending bill. The Senate and House will now produce a compromise bill for final passage and the Governor’s signature.