FY 20 Senate Budget
The FY20 Senate Budget is scheduled to be debated from May 21-23. The Senate budget process begins after the Governor and House of Representatives release their budget proposals. The Senate's process starts with the Senate Ways and Means Committee, followed by amendments and debate, and finally ratification of the Senate Budget.
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.
This page features updates on the Senate Budget process. For details on other parts of the budget process or to explore the budget itself, head to the MA Legislature website.
Senate Ways & Means Budget Proposal
The Senate Ways and Means (SWM) budget provides the base Senate budget onto which we add amendments. The SWM Budget included several of my top funding priorities. These included:
K-12 Education (“Chapter 70”) Aid: $138 million in new funding to begin implementation of all 4 financial recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission--including the full “100% weighting” for low-income students in the Commonwealth’s most impoverished districts.
Substance Abuse Treatment: Provides $150.2M for the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services for treatment and intervention services, including $3.5M to open five new recovery centers around the state.
Family Resource Centers: Provides $17 million, almost $2 million more than last year. The program provides one of the few means by which families in crisis can voluntarily receive services to prevent neglect of their children before it happens.
Adult Basic Education: $38 million to improve teacher compensation and reduce waitlists.
Income-Eligible Childcare: $276.5 million to maintain the number of vouchers available for eligible recipients.
Medication-Assisted Treatment: Provides $16.5M for medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for incarcerated people at Department of Corrections facilities and houses of correction with opioid use disorder.
Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC): Asset limits for TAFDC updated so that a family's first vehicle isn't counted against their eligibility.
Alternative Housing Voucher Program: Provides $8 million ($2 million more than last year) for a rental assistance program.
Prescription Drug Cost: SWM budget proposal gives MassHealth additional tools to tackle the rapidly growing cost of pharmaceutical drugs by allowing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to directly negotiate for fair and additional rebates or cost effective payment arrangements with pharmaceutical manufacturers.
Amendments & Debate
My strategy is always to fight for the priorities that I hear about again and again in the 2nd Suffolk District. At neighborhood meetings, through email, social media, and phone calls: you express these issue areas as critical to our neighborhoods and imperative to our future. The amendments I've filed and co-sponsored so far fall into a few different areas.
Funding Low-Income Student Undercount (#320): In FY17 the state changed its method for counting low-income students for the purposes of K-12 education funding. The change resulted in severe undercounts in several gateway communities and a resulting underfunding of the districts relative to the students that are in their classrooms. This amendment would continue the practice since FY17 of offering a transitional aid account ($10.5 million - matching the House number) to mitigate the fiscal pain these districts have experienced while the Legislature considers a systemic fix for future fiscal years in the education finance legislation currently under consideration.
METCO (#205): This amendment would increase funding for METCO by $1.5 million in order to close the transportation funding gap partially addressed by an increase in FY19. Increasing the transportation allotment will allow all 37 participating METCO communities to offer additional buses for students to participate in after-school activities and meaningfully integrate into the host school communities.
Demonstration Workforce Development Program (#977): This amendment would provide $1 million for job training, professional development, and supportive services for individuals transitioning either from a house of correction or the department of corrections back into the labor force. Post-release job training or job placement assistance improve the likelihood of long-term employment and help reduce recidivism rates.
Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (#990): This amendment would assist in mitigating the anticipated loss of federal contract funds to our state's anti-discrimination agency. MCAD is the first line of defense in Massachusetts against discrimination in employment, education, public places, and lending.
Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (#976): Increases funding for MLAC to $550,000, funding programs to ensure that low-income people with critical, non-criminal legal needs have access to legal information, advice, and representation.
Clarification on Protections for HomeBASE Households (#756): This amendment would count the loss of HomeBASE funds as loss of income for the purposes of eligibility for emergency assistance shelter. Currently, households who are evicted after HomeBASE assistance has expired are forced to sleep in places not meant for human habitation in order to access emergency assistance shelter. This amendment seeks to reduce the trauma and residual costs of delaying shelter entry to these families and individuals.
YouthWorks (#757): This amendment would increase the funding for youth jobs to $16 million, in order to provide over 4,000 summer jobs at the new minimum wage. Early work experiences are critical to helping young people stay in school and connect to careers.
Massachusetts Cultural Council (#686): Increases funding for Mass Cultural Council to $18 million to expand grant programming supporting arts & cultural initatives across the Commonwealth.
Small Business Technical Assistance Program (#19): Increases SBTA grants program funding to $4 million to help entrepreneurs with starting, growing and sustaining a successful small business. For more information on this small but mighty program, check out this letter to the editor or this report on the grant's effectiveness.
Community Preservation Trust Fund (#3): Adjusts the deeds filing fee for CPA from $20 to $50 (and other filing fees from $10 to $25) in order to provide an ongoing increase in the state match for local affordable housing, open space, and historic preservation projects, to almost 30% beginning in Nov. 2020.
Health and Human Services
DCF Legislative Reporting Reform (#662): This amendment would update the legislatively mandated reports of the Department of Children and Families to be most effective in determining progress and gaps within the child and family social services system. The DCF Data Working Group, convened via legislative mandate beginning in 2016, completed a comprehensive review of all of the reports, and this amendment is the compilation of the Working Group’s recommendations.
Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (#583): This amendment would increase the appropriation for the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH) by $325,000. MCDHH provides crucial services throughout the state for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Independent Living Services, which addresses basic needs for this population with regard to housing, economic security, skills development, health care access, and substance abuse services.
For a full list of amendments sponsored and co-sponsored by Sonia, please reference the MA Legislature's website.
Final Senate Budget & Victories
Last week, the Senate passed its FY20 Budget for the state. There were many spirited debates over the week about how best to support families and our communities across the commonwealth.
This year's budget debate saw innovative ideas and dogged follow-through on core priorities. Here are some of our big victories.