Massachusetts House of Representatives Pass New State Budget
The $38.05 billion budget for fiscal year 2016 now moves over to the Senate.
By Daniel Libon (Patch Staff) May 12, 2015
With elected officials touting investments in core state services and an increase in local aid, the Massachusetts House of Representatives recently passed a $38.05 billion state budget for fiscal year 2016. The budget features no new taxes or fees, and reduces its reliance on one-time revenue source. In addition, funds from the state’s stabilization fund will not be used for the first time since 2007. “The House of Representative’s budget demonstrates that through fiscal prudence and thoughtful investments we can achieve sustainable economic growth and set the standard for aiding citizens facing adversity,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo said in a statement. “As in the past, we have had the foresight to take immediate action on issues like transportation reform and local aid funding, while laying the foundation for long-term excellence through early education and care and workforce development. I am particularly proud of our focus on behavioral health which emphasizes the need to consider prevention, access, and recovery.” Democratic Rep. Joe Fernandes of Milford praised the budget for funding local requests for public safety, youth programming, energy efficiency, and parks improvements. “These worthwhile projects, if ultimately authorized in late June or early July, will provide hazardous material protective gear for the Hopedale Fire Department, fund energy efficiency upgrades associated with Mendon’s public library project, and benefit hundreds of disadvantaged youth served by the Milford Youth Center and many more area residents that enjoy the diverse recreational opportunities offered at Fino Field,” Fernandes said. With the state’s first casino opening this year, towns will have access to slots revenue estimated to be around $105 million. Local aid is up $35 million and chapter 70 funding is at an all-time high $4.5 million, an increase of $25 per student. Addressing the issues surrounding the MBTA after a disastrous winter for the transit authority, the budget will call for an independent audit of the T’s maintenance protocols and fiscal liabilities. It also strengthens the Inspector General’s internal special unit to monitor the quality, efficiency and integrity of the department’s operating and capital programs. These updates follow the two transportation reform plans accompanied by major funding increases the House has passed since 2009.
In early education funding, the budget contains $5 million to help attract and support high-quality educators; $5 million for childcare vouchers to move 833 children off of the existing waitlist; and $4 million to support the delivery of high-quality EEC programming through efforts that include improved access to technical assistance, training and workforce development.
To fight substance abuse, there is over $10 million in new funding for programs focused on substance addiction prevention and treatment; $2.5 million to expand patient access to Vivitrol; and more than $13 million for the Department of Mental Health to annualize and expand community placements to free up beds in the department’s pipeline.
The budget now heads over to the Senate for a vote.
Posted By: Katy Shea