BOSTON – On Thursday, the Massachusetts State Senate passed a $42.8 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2020 which increases access to quality, affordable health care, significantly expands funding for public education, and makes other targeted investments to provide greater access to opportunity and economic vitality across the Commonwealth.

“After a week of productive and substantive debate and discussion with my Senate colleagues, I am more confident than ever that the Senate’s budget for Fiscal Year 2020 will meaningfully address many of the Commonwealth’s greatest collective needs,” said Senator Jason Lewis, Assistant Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means and Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Education. “I’m especially pleased that this budget makes substantial new investments in education, reflecting the Senate’s longstanding commitment to supporting public education and laying the groundwork for the Massachusetts Legislature to update the Commonwealth’s school funding formula and ensure that every school district is adequately and equitably funded.”

The Senate FY20 budget provides $268 million more in Chapter 70 funding to local school districts than in FY19, the largest annual increase in two decades. This budget also makes significant progress in implementing the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission, in order to ensure that all public schools are adequately and equitably funded so that every student across the Commonwealth has access to a great education. Education investments include:

• $5.176B for Chapter 70 education funding

• $345M to fully fund the Special Education Circuit Breaker

• $100M to reimburse school districts for costs incurred when students leave to attend charter schools

• $558M for the University of Massachusetts, $293.2M for the fifteen community colleges, and $274M for the nine state universities; $2.5M for the Early Colleges program to allow students to earn college credits and get a head start on the transition to college; and $2M for grants offered through the Massachusetts Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative to support high school students with intellectual disabilities ages 18–22 with access to higher education opportunities

• $12M for grants to the Head Start program to maintain access to early education services for low-income families

• $6.5M for Youth-At-Risk Matching grants, including support for YWCAs, YMCAs and Boys & Girls Clubs

The Fiscal Year 2020 budget reduces reliance on the use of one-time revenue sources and directs $268M to the Stabilization Fund to continue to build the Commonwealth’s financial safety net.

The budget also continues Massachusetts’ leadership in keeping health care accessible and affordable, increasing resources, making investments to deliver services to our most vulnerable residents, and ensuring the well-being of individuals and families. The budget funds MassHealth at a total of $16.55B to maintain access to affordable health care coverage for over 1.8 million people, ensuring comprehensive care for our most vulnerable children, seniors and low income residents.

Many steps were taken in an effort to contain program costs and keep health care affordable and accessible to all. These include providing MassHealth with additional tools to tackle the rapidly growing cost of pharmaceutical drugs by permitting the Secretary of Health and Human Services to directly negotiate for fair and additional rebates or cost effective payment arrangements with pharmaceutical manufacturers. The budget also explores new and creative cost savings initiatives for MassHealth to purchase prescription drugs and requires greater transparency from pharmacy benefit managers. Health investments include:

• $10M for the new Behavioral Health Outreach, Access and Support Trust Fund to support a loan forgiveness initiative for behavioral health workers and a general public awareness campaign

• $150.2M for a range of substance abuse treatment and intervention services, including $3.5M in new funding to open five new recovery centers

• $5M for investments in the substance use disorder workforce, including training on medication management, medication-assisted treatment and treatment of co-occurring disorders

• $93.4M for children’s mental health services, including $3.9M for the Massachusetts Child Psychiatric Access Program (MCPAP) and $675K for MCPAP for Moms to address mental health needs of pregnant and postpartum women

• $489M for Adult Support Services, including assisted outpatient programming and comprehensive care coordination among health care providers

• $25M to fully fund Department of Developmental Services “Turning 22” services to help young people with disabilities transition to adulthood

• $5M for the coordination of a comprehensive statewide strategy, in partnership with municipalities, public health harm reduction organizations and  other stakeholders, to promote existing harm reduction efforts and community-based harm reduction services

• $1M for the Healthy Relationship grants program to support teen dating violence prevention efforts

The Senate’s budget invests in programs and policies to educate, train, and prepare Massachusetts workers in order to provide them with opportunities to grow and succeed. Opportunity investments include:

• $38.5M for adult basic education services to improve access to skills and tools necessary to join the workforce

• $15.6M for summer jobs and work-readiness training for at-risk youth

• $7M for the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund to connect unemployed and under-employed workers with higher paying jobs

• $2M for Small Business Technical Assistance grants

• $2M for the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership

• $1M for Regional Economic Development Organizations to support economic growth in all regions of the state

The Senate’s budget maintains the Senate’s commitment to increasing access to quality, affordable housing, investing in low-income housing and homelessness services and supports. Housing investments include:

• $178.7M for Emergency Assistance Family Shelters

• $110M for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP)

• $48.3M for assistance for homeless individuals

• $21M for Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT), including $3M to continue expanding eligibility for individuals in need, including persons with disabilities, seniors, unaccompanied youth

• $8M for the Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP) providing rental assistance to people with disabilities and $2.7M for grants to improve or create accessible affordable housing units

• $7.5M for rental subsidies to help those suffering from mental health find or maintain stable housing

• $5M for housing and supportive services for unaccompanied homeless youth

The FY 2020 budget supports cities and towns by directing significant resources to local and regional aid. In addition to traditional local aid, the Senate’s budget increases payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) for state-owned land to $30M. PILOT funding has been a beneficial source of local aid that provides cities and towns with additional resources to support core public services. Local investments include:

• $1.129B for unrestricted general government aid to support community investments in education, health care, public safety and roads and bridges

• $29.1M for the Board of Library Commissioners, $11.5M for regional library local aid, $9.9M for municipal libraries and $3.3M for technology and automated resources

• $18M for the Massachusetts Cultural Council to support local arts, culture and creative economy initiatives

• $18.1M for local Councils on Aging to strengthen programs and services in senior centers in communities across the state

A Conference Committee will now convene to reconcile the differences between the Senate budget and the version passed by the House of Representatives in April. Fiscal Year 2020 begins on July 1, 2019.

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