Senate Passes FY18 Budget

Senator Flanagan Announces Passing of Fiscal Year 2018 Budget

BOSTON– The Senate voted today on a $40.8 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2018, investing in key areas related to local aid, education, health and human services, housing and workforce development. The budget makes targeted investments, while limiting the use of one-time revenue sources and protecting the state’s Stabilization Fund.

"This budget provides a good balance of investments in human services, workforce development, education, health, and economy," said Senator Jennifer Flanagan (D-Leominster). "I am also proud to announce the successful adoption of several amendments specifically for the Worcester and Middlesex District."

For Senator Flanagan’s district, the following amendments for local items were approved by the Senate:

  • SPED Rate Increase allows for a modest 1.51% cost inflation factor rate increase on tuition rates.  Allowing C766 schools to increase tuition rates will provide private special education schools with the ability to make critical program reconstruction adjustments.

  • Mount Wachusett Community College - Brewer Center for Civic Learning & Community Engagement will receive an increase of $100,000 in funding for the Senator Stephen M. Brewer Center for Civic Learning & Community Engagement at Mount Wachusett Community College. 

  • Mount Wachusett Community College - Automotive Technology Center will receive an increase of $50,000 in funding.  This amendment allows MWCC to relocate their auto tech program to the Fitchburg area.  Preparing students for this field is important, in addition to student demand, because it is estimated that 28 % of auto tech workers are nearing retirement age.

  • Leominster Yes We Care / Torch Program will see an increase of $20,000 in funding. This amendment will assist the Yes We Care/Torch Training program with the costs of food, supplies, purchasing materials and administrative costs related to the program, as well as for additional workshops throughout the year.

  • Alcoholic beverage manufacturer pouring licenses allows a company with a section 19 alcoholic beverage manufacturer’s license to, with local approval, sell their products for on-premises consumption. Under current law, a section 19 license allows for alcoholic beverage manufacturer, such as Wachusett Brewery, to conduct tastings or to sell bottled beer take home and consume.  This amendment would allow for Wachusett and other local businesses, who do not also have a license allowing them to pour and serve, such as the Farmer-Brewery license (19C), a Pub-brewery license (19D), or Tenant-brewer license (19G) to serve and sell their product on the premises, to sell a glass of beer to their patrons after a tasting

  • Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress will have an expansion of their continuum of life programs, including Parents’ First Call, Your Next Star workforce training campaign, and a variety of other important programs serving our 5,000 member families and individuals living with Down syndrome, the MDSC requested an increase of $75,000 in last year’s budget.  The majority of this funding allows the MDSC to provide up-to-date, objective and accurate information and supports to new and expectant parents after they receive a positive diagnosis of Down syndrome.  The state appropriation also supports MDSC educational programs that share best practices in education, health care, research and community supports throughout the lifespan of individuals with Down syndrome, so that they can lead active and meaningful lives in their community.  Your support for MA Down Syndrome Congress Amendment 303 will truly make a difference to 5,000 people with Down syndrome in MA.

  • SBIRT Implementation provides $200,000 for school districts to implement SBIRT screening as mandated by last year’s prevention and recovery legislation.  Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment. (SBIRT) is a proven and effective prevention tool that identifies risky alcohol or drug use through conversations and dialogue, not drug testing, between students and a school official, usually a school nurse, trained by the Department of Public Health.

  • Gardner Business Incubator requests an increase of $100,000 in funding.  This amendment will improve economic development in the greater Gardner area. The Greater Gardner Business Incubator Network, Inc. is a collaboration of dedicated individuals representing varied aspects of business.

  • Johnny Appleseed Trail Association requests an increase of 85,000 in funding.  The Johnny Appleseed Trail Association is a visitor information program created by The North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce who has strong roots in community activities and specialties.

  • Fitchburg Public Safety Improvements requests an increase of $50,000 in funding for Fitchburg Public Safety Improvements. These additional resources will be allocated to improving Downtown Community Policing Initiatives. 

  • On Site Academy  will see an increase of $200,000 in funding. The On-Site Academy is a non-profit residential treatment and training center for critical incident stress management.  The program is for all law enforcement, fire service, EMS, or other human service personnel who are themselves temporarily overwhelmed by the stress of their jobs, what they have seen, and what they have been through.

  • Clinton Walnut Street Parking Lot Reconstruction will see an increase of $85,000 in funding.  This amendment would support downtown businesses by reconstructing a public parking lot located at 24 Walnut Street in Clinton, MA.

In line with the Senate’s Kids First framework to invest in our children, the budget directs funding to high quality education for everyone, from children at birth to adults making midlife career transitions.

  • $4.76B in Chapter 70 education funding, allowing for a minimum increase of $30 per pupil aid, 85% effort reduction and steps to implement the Foundation Budget Review Commission’s recommendations to more adequately fund school districts across the state.

  • $545.1M for community colleges and universities and $534.5M for the University of Massachusetts.

  • $293.7M to fully fund the Special Education Circuit Breaker for the 6th year in a row, reimbursing school districts for the high cost of educating students with disabilities.

  • $15.1M to expand access to high quality preschool for low income 4 year olds.

  • $10M to boost salaries for early educators.

  • $7.5M for the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative and $7M for youth anti-violence Shannon Grants.

  • $3.7M for after-school and out-of-school programs to support students who need more time and specialized attention.

The budget takes steps to contain health care costs and invests in health and human services to ensure access to high quality, affordable health care and to support children, seniors, people with disabilities and veterans.

  • $388.4M for mental health support services for adults, including $1M to expand community-based placements to alleviate longer than necessary stays in inpatient units or emergency rooms.

  • $144.1M for a range of substance abuse treatment, intervention and recovery support services.

  • $91.6M for mental health services for children and young people, including $3.7M for the Massachusetts Child Psychiatric Access Program and $300K for a loan forgiveness program to increase the number of mental health professionals treating children in underserved areas.

  • $50M for family support and stabilization services.

  • $31.3M for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.

  • $24.2M to fully fund Department of Developmental Services Turning 22 services to help young people with disabilities transition to the adult services system.

  • $13.2M for Family Resource Centers, providing community-based services for families across the state.

  • $3.5M to encourage collaboration among agencies, schools and community partners to strengthen programming for early detection and screening for mental illness in children.

The budget also establishes an employer contribution to health care to raise $180 million in FY 2018, either through a temporary increase to the Employer Medical Assistance Contribution or through a time limited employer assessment as determined by the Administration.

The budget invests $464.1M in low income housing and homelessness services, with a focus on preventative and supportive resources to connect people with affordable, stable housing, as well as assistance for those in crisis. In addition to increasing funding, the budget expands access to housing and homelessness prevention resources by increasing the income threshold for rental vouchers, expanding eligibility for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program and increasing the HomeBASE re-housing subsidy cap to better divert families to housing.

  • $166.1M for Emergency Assistance Family Shelters.

  • $100M for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program, providing funding for 350 to 400 new rental assistance vouchers.

  • $46.5M for assistance for homeless individuals.

  • $32.6M for the HomeBASE diversion and rapid re-housing program.

  • $18.5M for RAFT, providing short-term financial assistance to low income families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

  • $5.5M for the Alternative Housing Voucher Program to provide over 100 new rental assistance vouchers for low income people with disabilities.

  • $2.5M for housing and supportive services for unaccompanied homeless youth.

The budget also makes targeted investments to promote self-sufficiency among low income families and create opportunities for people to develop the skills they need to compete in the workforce and boost our economy.

  • $30.8M for adult basic education services.

  • $20M for civil legal aid services for low income people.

  • $17.6M for the emergency food assistance program.

  • $14.6M for the Department of Transitional Assistance Employment Services Program to help people move toward economic independence and self-sufficiency.

  • $12.5M for summer jobs and work-readiness training for at-risk youth.

  • $4M for the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund.

  • $2.5M for Small Business Technical Assistance grants.

The budget continues the Senate’s strong partnership with municipalities in directing significant investments to local aid and community services.

  • $1.06B for Unrestricted General Government Aid to support community investments in education, health care, public safety and roads and bridges.

  • $83M for Regional Transit Authorities.

  • $26.7M for the Board of Library Commissioners, including $10.4M for regional library local aid, $9.8M for municipal libraries and $2.3M for technology and automated resources.

  • $16.5M for the Massachusetts Cultural Council to support the state-wide creative economy and local arts and culture.

  • $14.2M for local Councils on Aging to strengthen programs and services in senior centers.

Finally, the budget includes several initiatives to maximize state and federal revenue opportunities, including a standing Tax Expenditure Review Commission to evaluate all tax expenditures and their fiscal impact. The budget also expands the room occupancy tax to short-term rentals and modifies the film tax credit to ensure the incentive benefits local communities, residents and business.

A Conference Committee will now work out the differences between the Senate budget and the version passed by the House of Representatives in April. Fiscal Year 2018 begins on July 1, 2017.