State Senate Passes FY23 Budget, Adopts 15 Sen. Keenan Amendments

The State Senate voted May 26 to approve a $49.78 billion FY23 budget. The final Senate budget incorporates 15 amendments filed by Senator John F. Keenan, and makes significant investments in education, housing, health care, and key projects serving Norfolk & Plymouth Senate District residents.

“I am gratified that the Senate spending plan makes significant investments in priorities strongly supported by constituents,” said Sen. Keenan. “Passage of this bill provides funding to address so many needs while also giving us a detailed map for serving the Commonwealth over the next fiscal year.”

The budget funds a record level of local aid to cities and towns, funds that are used for education, police and fire, programs for seniors and veterans, libraries, public works, and parks and playgrounds.

In K-12 education, the Senate delivers on its promise to fully fund and implement the Student Opportunity Act (SOA) by FY 2027, investing $6 billion in Chapter 70 local school funding, an increase of $495 million over FY 2022. Communities in the Norfolk and Plymouth District will receive nearly a $9 million increase over last year in school funding.

Structured upon a consensus revenue estimate of 2.7 percent growth, the budget funds Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) for local communities at $1.231 billion, meaning that Norfolk and Plymouth District communities will receive an increase of approximately $1.8 million over last year.

The Senate’s FY23 budget also includes a $854.4 million deposit into the Commonwealth’s rainy-day fund, bringing that account to $6.74 billion.

“To ensure the long-term fiscal health of the Commonwealth, it makes good sense that we continue to put money into our stabilization account,” said Sen. Keenan. “This helps guard against downturns in the economy and bolsters our bond rating, which allows the Commonwealth to bond investments in its infrastructure at better rates, resulting in substantial savings for taxpayers.”

Recognizing the strong link between housing security and positive health and economic outcomes, the Senate FY23 budget invests more than $900 million in increased funding for housing stability and homelessness assistance to keep people in their homes, and help individuals and families find permanent housing.

“Our Commonwealth is faced with a housing market unlike anything we’ve seen before, with high costs and a limited inventory. Our approach to housing stability needs to be adaptive to where we are and prudent to where we are going,” said Sen. Keenan. “By funding various programs in this budget, we hope to increase the affordability and availability of housing for Massachusetts residents.”

The budget prioritizes relief for families and individuals who continue to face challenges brought on by both the pandemic and financial insecurity, including $213.2 million for Emergency Assistance Family Shelters and $210 million for Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT), including $60 million carried over from the March supplemental budget. The budget reinstates the emergency-level maximum amount of rental assistance that a household can receive at $10,000. Eligible households facing a housing crisis would also be given access to apply for RAFT and HomeBASE.

So many individuals and families have been able to continue living in the Norfolk & Plymouth District thanks to these rental assistance programs, with nearly 2,000 households in Norfolk and Plymouth counties having successfully applied for assistance through RAFT and ERAP in just the first three months of 2022. Since the start of the pandemic, housing agencies serving communities in the district have provided over $60 million in housing assistance through RAFT.

The Massachusetts Senate’s FY23 budget ensures that reproductive health and gender affirming health will be protected in the Commonwealth, despite growing legal uncertainty across the United States, and protects Massachusetts health care providers and those receiving care from legal actions brought by out of state individuals who should not have any say in what health care services are provided in Massachusetts.

Drawing on its belief that the Commonwealth’s recovery is made stronger by a commitment to invest in early education and care, the Senate’s budget makes a $1.13 billion investment into this sector of the care economy, including $300 million in new resources to begin implementation of recommendations made by the Early Education and Care Economy Review Commission.

Local Unrestricted General Government Aid & Chapter 70 Funding:

Abington

  • UGGA: $2.2 million; $116K increase
  • 70: $12.9 million; $2.1 million increase

Braintree

  • UGGA: $6.6 million; $339K increase
  • 70: $19.3 million; $907K increase

Holbrook

  • UGGA: $1.7 million; $87K increase
  • 70: $9.7 million; $970K increase

Quincy

  • UGGA: $22.1 million; $1.1 million increase
  • 70: $35.4 million; $3.5 million increase

Rockland

  • UGGA: $3 million; $156K increase
  • 70: $16.3 million; $1.5 million increase

Amendments filed by Sen. Keenan that the Senate adopted include:

Local Priorities:

  • Amendment 1020 – $100,000 for the Fire Chiefs Association of Plymouth County to maintain and upgrade emergency communication systems, provide for mass casualty/major operations incident planning and training, and to enhance mutual aid operations.
  • Amendment 1168 – $75,000 each for traffic and sidewalk improvements in Abington and Rockland
  • Amendment 1169 – $15,000 to the Holbrook Middle-High School for the Robotics STEM Program
  • Amendment 1170 – Programming and services at elder services in Abington ($28,500), Braintree ($28,500), Holbrook ($28,500), and Rockland ($28,500)
  • Amendment 1171 – $50,000 to the Quincy Police Department for equipping and outfitting an accident-reconstruction vehicle
  • Amendment 1172 – $10,000 for Friends of the Thomas Crane Public Library programming
  • Amendment 1173 – $50,000 for the Quincy Fire Department to pay for firefighter safety equipment, including thermal-imaging units
  • Amendment 1175 – $25,000 to Hope & Comfort Inc. for addressing hygiene insecurity
  • Amendment 661 – $28,000 for Quincy College students to access the same behavioral health services as public and community college students

Housing:

  • Amendment 293 – Adds the Joint Committee on Housing to the list of recipients of reports on various important aspects of homelessness
  • Amendment 298 – Expands the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) by including utility costs in the cap of 30% of tenant income that tenants pay toward their monthly rent

Health Care:

  • Amendment 419 – $1 million earmark for contingency management, a substance use treatment recommended by the state Commission on Methamphetamine Use
  • Amendment 420 – Allows more time for the expenditure of funds in the BSAS line item for outpatient and mobile services for deaf/hard of hearing and/or blind individuals with substance use disorders
  • Amendment 432 – $500,000 for tobacco control programs operated by local boards of health, including, cessation counseling, enforcement of the flavor ban law, youth access and secondhand smoke; and for the expansion of community based participatory evaluation programs to additional underserved communities

Public Safety:

  • Amendment 937 – Increases the DOC reporting requirements from yearly to quarterly in updating the delayed provision of medication assisted treatment (MAT) at its facilities

 

Other highlights in the FY23 Senate Budget include:

 

Housing:

  • $175 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP), including $20.7 million in unspent funds carried forward from FY 2022; the budget also recommends structural program changes that, starting January 1, 2023, will allow households to pay no more than 30% of their income, except in special circumstances, for rent to receive rental vouchers for up to 110% of fair market value
  • $92 million for assistance to local housing authorities
  • $83.3 million for assistance for homeless individuals
  • $56.9 million for the HomeBASE diversion and rapid re-housing programs, bolstering assistance under this program to two years with a per household maximum benefit of $20,000
  • $19.3 million for the Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP), which provides rental assistance to people with disabilities, including $5.6 million in unspent funds carried forward from FY 2022 and $2.5 million for grants to improve or create accessible affordable housing units
  • $5 million for sponsored-based supportive permanent housing
  • $3.9 million for the Home and Healthy for Good re-housing and supportive services program, including $250,000 for homeless LGBTQ+ youth

Education:

  • $250 million for the Commonwealth Cares for Children (C3) Stabilization Grants, stabilizing the early education and care sector by supporting critical operational and workforce needs
  • $25 million for a new infrastructure and policy reform reserve to bolster the statewide system of care and assist families in navigating the early education landscape
  • $25 million for the center-based childcare rate reserve for reimbursement rates for subsidized care
  • $16.5 million for grants to the Head Start program to maintain access to early education services for low-income families
  • $15 million for the Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative to expand access to pre-kindergarten and preschool opportunities in underserved areas
  • $5 million for the Early Childhood Educators Scholarship
  • $435 million for the special education circuit breaker
  • $243.8 million for charter school reimbursements
  • $82.2 million to reimburse school districts for regional school transportation costs, representing an 85% reimbursement rate
  • $10 million for Early College programs and $9 million for the state’s Dual Enrollment initiative, both of which provide high school students with increased opportunities for post-graduate success
  • $5.5 million, after adding $1.5 million through an amendment, for targeted aid to rural schools
  • $1.5 million for the Genocide Education Trust Fund, fulfilling the commitment to educate middle and high school students on the history of genocide.

Health & Family Care:

  • $514.6 million for Department of Mental Health adult support services, including assisted outpatient programming and comprehensive care coordination among health care providers
  • $210.3 million for a complete range of substance use disorder treatment and intervention services to support these individuals and their families
  • $112.5 million for children’s mental health services
  • $56 million for domestic violence prevention services
  • $40.4 million for Early Intervention services, ensuring supports remain accessible and available to infants and young toddlers with developmental delays and disabilities
  • $28.3 million for Family Resource Centers to grow and improve the mental health resources and programming available to families
  • $20 million to recapitalize the Behavioral Health, Access, Outreach and Support Trust Fund to support targeted behavioral health initiatives
  • $18.5 million, increased during the amendment process, to expand to all correctional facilities the existing pilot program for the delivery of medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder
  • $18 million for family and adolescent health, including $7.8 million for comprehensive family planning services and $6.7 million to enhance federal Title X family planning funding
  • $15 million for grants to support local and regional boards of health, continuing our efforts to build upon the successful State Action for Public Health Excellence (SAPHE) Program
  • $15 million for emergency department diversion initiatives for children, adolescents, and adults
  • $8.2 million to support student behavioral health services at the University of Massachusetts, state universities and community colleges
  • $6 million for Social Emotional Learning Grants to help K-12 schools bolster social emotional learning supports for students, and $1 million to provide mental health screenings for K-12 students
  • $4.4 million for the Office of the Child Advocate
  • $3.5 million for the Massachusetts Center on Child Wellbeing & Trauma
  • $3 million for Children Advocacy Centers to improve the critical supports available to children who have been neglected or sexually abused
  • $1 million, increased through the amendment process, for an expansion of the Hey Sam text-based mental health support line, a peer-to-peer suicide prevention communications initiative for youth and young adults

Expanding & Protecting Opportunities:

  • $356.6 million for Transitional Assistance to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) and $140.7 million for Emergency Aid to Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC) to provide the necessary support as caseloads increase, and lift families and individuals out of deep poverty
  • $55.3 million for adult basic education services to improve access to skills necessary to join the workforce
  • $30.5 million for the Massachusetts Emergency Food Assistance Program
  • $24.1 million for summer jobs and work-readiness training for at-risk youth
  • $20 million in Healthy Incentives Programs to maintain access to healthy food options for households in need
  • $20 million for a Community Empowerment and Reinvestment Grant Program to provide economic support to communities disproportionately impacted by the criminal justice system
  • $17 million for the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund to connect unemployed and under-employed workers with higher paying jobs
  • $15.4 million for Career Technical Institutes to increase our skilled worker population and provide residents access to career technical training opportunities
  • $7.5 million for community foundations to provide emergency economic relief to historically underserved populations
  • $5 million for the Secure Jobs Connect Program, providing job placement resources and assistance for homeless individuals
  • $4.8 million for the Innovation Pathways program to continue to connect students to trainings and post-secondary opportunities in the industry sector with a focus on STEM fields
  • $2.5 million for the Massachusetts Cybersecurity Innovation Fund, including $1.5 million to continue partnerships with community colleges and state universities to provide cybersecurity workforce training to students and cybersecurity services to municipalities, non-profits, and small businesses
  • $500,000, through an amendment, for the Economic Empowerment Trust Fund to expand the state’s Baby Steps college savings program

Community Support:

  • $96.5 million for Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) to support regional public transportation systems, including $2.5 million for the implementation of pilot programs for fare innovation and reduction across the state
  • $40.8 million for libraries, including $14.5 million for regional library local aid, $16 million for municipal libraries and $4.7 million for technology and automated resource networks
  • $22.3 million for the Massachusetts Cultural Council to support local arts, culture and creative economy initiatives
  • $3 million for Non-Profit Security Grants, after an increase of $1.5 million through the amendment process, to cover vital security enhancements to houses of worship, community centers, and other institutions at heightened risk of violence
  • $1 million for the New American Voter Grant Program to provide accessible election materials to municipalities with significant non-English speaking populations and promote public awareness about voting

Now that the Senate and Massachusetts House of Representatives have passed their respective budget proposals, both branches will appoint a conference committee to reconcile the differences between the two budgets and send a consensus budget to the governor.

 

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