FY 19 Senate Budget
The FY 19 Senate Budget was debated for three days, and passed on May 24, 2018. The final Senate Budget is sent to a Conference Committee, to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate proposals. The Conference Committee reports a final compromise bill to the House and Senate for a final vote of acceptance in each branch. The Governor then has 10 days to review the budget and take action to either approve or veto.
Senate Budget Victories
Adult Basic Education
Adult basic education courses teach basic skills of reading, writing, and math to adult learners, preparing them to take the GED and transition into a job, college or university, or training program. The increase to this item will help take hundreds of individuals off of waitlist for this life-changing service.
Lifting the "Cap on Kids"
Jan 2019 implementation
House: July 2019 implementation
Senate: Jan 2019 implementation
Currently, the Cap on Kids (or "Family Cap") denies welfare benefits to children that are conceived while a family is receiving welfare benefits. As a result, 8,700 children across the Commonwealth are being denied key supports. The Senate Budget would lift the cap on kids and provide funding starting first thing in January of 2019.
Reimbursement to School Districts for Charter School Costs
Due to the increase in charter school enrollment, the cost to districts has increased, and our state reimbursement amount should fulfill our legal promise to cover these transition costs. The Senate budget increases the Charter School Reimbursement line item by $17 million to prevent more resources from being unfairly diminished for district school students.
School & Youth Safety Trust Fund
This provision does not appropriate funds, but will generate funds for youth violence prevention.
The Senate budget establishes a trust fund to support youth programming, wraparound services, and capital safety upgrades at schools and local housing authorities. The trust fund would receive funding through a $1000/firearm fine on illegal gun trafficking and by redirecting $10 from existing firearm license fees.
Ch. 70 Education Funding
Schools across Massachusetts are struggling with budget cuts year after year. As a state, we also face one of the three worst achievement gaps in the country. We need to live up to our core values and devote the resources to provide every student with a quality education. The Senate Ways & Means proposal raises our overall investment in K-12 education by raising the base "Chapter 70" funding by $160 million over last year, with a particular focus on increasing investment in districts that serve high populations of English language learners.
METCO is a voluntary school desegregation program that expands educational opportunity by allowing Boston, Springfield, and suburban students to attend school together in the participating suburban districts. The allotment to cover student transportation, however, had not seen an increase since 2008 - forcing districts to pull money from classroom services to cover it. This amendment increases funding by $1.5 million to cover the transportation deficit.
Residential Assistance for Families in Transition
The RAFT program provides short-term financial assistance to low-income families who are recently homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. This funding helps prevent homelessness and the need for shelter, allowing families to get back up on their feet. The Senate budget increases funding for RAFT by $3.5 million over last year.
Tax Expenditure Review Commission
This provision will ensure tax dollars are being spent effectively, and may produce revenue to support critical programs.
The Senate budget establishes a commission to regularly review state-level corporate tax credits. The Commission will make recommendations to the legislature about whether the credits are living up to their economic development promises, and whether they should be extended, modified, or mothballed. This consistent review will help make sure we're using tax dollars as intentionally, transparently, and effectively as voters should expect.
Earned Income Tax Credit
This provision does not appropriate funds, but will save money for low-income families and individuals.
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) has proven to be an effective solution for addressing poverty. The Senate budget increases the state EITC from 23% to 30% of the federal EITC. This means the tax credit for low-income families and individuals will increase by $65 million and up to $450 per family.
Massachusetts Cultural Council
The MCC provides important funding and support for artists and programs to develop our local and national culture, contribute to our state’s economy, and expand the way we see the world.
Safe Communities Amendment
This provision will improve police-community relationships.
This amendment protects all Massachusetts residents by ensuring that state and local resources are focused on preventing and intervening in violent crime, not used for federal immigration enforcement. It will also block Massachusetts from participating in any Muslim Registry. These measures will help increase the critical trust relationship between police and community residents.