Legislature Passes Balanced Budget With Targeted Investments in Education, Housing, Environment

State Rep. Dan Ryan, along with his colleagues in the Massachusetts Legislature, passed its Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) budget recently, which invests in programs and services across the Commonwealth. Funded at $43.1 billion, the budget makes major investments in education, housing, substance use disorder services, health care, and other areas while projecting a more than $476 million deposit into the Stabilization Fund – bringing the fund’s balance to more than $3 billion to safeguard the future of vital programs and services.

“I am proud of this fiscally responsible budget that supports the needs of individuals, families, and communities across the Commonwealth through thoughtful investments that increase local aid, strengthen our health care system and protect the environment,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “This budget bolsters our ongoing efforts to combat the opioid crisis, invest in high-quality early education and care and makes another significant deposit into the state’s Stabilization Fund. These investments will have a long and lasting positive effect on the residents of Massachusetts. I want to thank Chair Michlewitz for his leadership and my colleagues in the House, especially those on the conference committee, who worked to put this package together.”

State Rep. Dan Ryan said he was very happy to see the overall investments in the State Budget, and he said his district also made out very well this year with several earmarks in the budget.

In Charlestown, those included:

•Charlestown Veteran’s Park $50,000 (DCR)

•DCR Land Use Planning Study $50,000 (DCR)

•Harvest on Vine $25,000 (Emergency Food Assistance)

•New Health- Health Center $100,000 (Community Health Center)

•Charlestown Coalition $25,000 (Substance Abuse)

•Special Townies $25,000 (Developmental Services)

 The budget increases Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) by nearly $30 million and provides $5.17 billion in Chapter 70 education funding as part of a $268 million increase for investments in schools over Fiscal Year 2019.  In addition, the budget includes a $10.5 million reserve for low-income students while the Joint Committee on Education continues its work on this issue. It also addresses the need for integrated student health and wellness supports, providing $2 million to establish the Supporting Health Alliances Reinforcing Education (SHARE) grant program to address non-academic barriers to school success. The budget expands the role of the Office of the Child Advocate to oversee integrated coordination of education and health programming. Additional education allocations include:

•$345 million for Special Education reimbursement;

•$115 million for Charter School Reimbursement; and

•$75.8 million for Regional School Transportation reimbursement.

The budget builds on the Legislature’s commitment to ensuring children have access to high-quality early education and care (EEC). The budget invests in those who work with children by increasing rates for early education providers by $20 million and supporting continuing education opportunities with community colleges. The conference report provides $7.5 million for the Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative to expand access across the Commonwealth. The budget also includes additional investments into Head Start grants and quality improvement measures in core EEC programming.

The budget represents some of the biggest increases seen in a generation when it comes to housing and homelessness funding. Access to safe, adequate, and affordable housing is essential and provides the foundation from which families and individuals can lead successful lives. This year, the budget continues these efforts by providing:

•$116 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP);

•$72 million for Public Housing Subsidies;

•$8 million for Alternative Housing Voucher Program; and

•$53.4 million for Homeless individual shelters.

The budget continues make investments in the Commonwealth’s efforts to fight the opioid epidemic – a public health crisis that has touched nearly every household across the Commonwealth. To help those in need, the budget gives all EMS and ambulance companies access to discounted naloxone, making it more available for use in the field. In addition, the budget includes:

•$150.2 million for the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services, which will help create five new recovery centers across Massachusetts and support substance use disorder workforce initiatives; and

•$5.5M for a comprehensive statewide strategy for community-based harm reduction services.

For the first time in nearly 20 years, the budget will increase the Commonwealth’s contribution into the Community Preservation Act, which will ensure that over $36 million more will be distributed to projects all across the Commonwealth and help raise the state’s match up to 30 percent for investments in open space, affordable housing and historic preservation.

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