BOSTON – Representative Richard M. Haggerty (D-Woburn) along with his colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed its Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) budget, which invests in programs and services across the Commonwealth. Funded at $46 billion, the House budget aims to address the sweeping effects of the global pandemic by making targeted investments in housing, food security, substance use addiction services, and domestic violence, sexual assault treatment and prevention programs. The budget also invests in programs that provide COVID-related supports for students and increases funding for developmental services.
“Keeping our commitment to local communities and protecting the most vulnerable among were driving forces in this budget debate,” said Representative Haggerty. “COVID has placed incredible pressure on families, businesses, and government. I am proud this budget reflects our commitment to combating COVID while strongly supporting education, addiction services, housing, and economic growth.”
The House was able to maintain FY2020 funding levels despite the pandemic, with the budget including inflationary Chapter 70 funding along with funding the special education circuit breaker at 75% reimbursement. The Town of Reading is set to receive the following amounts in the proposed budget:
Chapter 70: $10,834,809
Unrestricted Government Aid: $3,442,525
Representative Haggerty voted against a proposed capital gains tax increase. The defeated budget amendment would have raised the state’s tax rate on unearned income, such as capital gains, dividends, and interest, from 5% to 9%.
Due to the pandemic, access to safe and affordable housing for many families across the Commonwealth is threatened. The House budget represents its ongoing commitment to housing and homelessness funding. This year, the House makes targeted investments into rental and housing assistance to combat the eviction crisis by providing:
$50 million for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition Program (RAFT);
$135 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP);
$80 million for public housing subsidies;
$56 million for homeless individual shelters;
$13 million for homeless student transportation;
$11 million for Department of Mental Health Rental Subsidy Program; and
$8 million for unaccompanied homeless youth.
Keeping in mind the widespread economic effects of the COVID pandemic, the House makes specific investments in labor and economic development programs that provide opportunities for the Commonwealth’s workers and its businesses. The House maintains its support for the Massachusetts Manufacturing Partnership with an investment of $2 million – funding which has helped many Massachusetts manufactures retrofit their businesses into the PPE market. Other investments include:
$50 million for economic development including;
$15 million for local Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
$15 million for community development financial institutions
$10 million for matching grants for capital investments by small businesses
$6 million for small business technical assistance grants
$ 46 million for Adult Basic Education Services;
$19 million for summer jobs for at-risk youth;
$7 million Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund;
$2.5 million in Urban Agenda Grants; and
$1.4 million for small business development.
The House budget continues its ongoing commitment to high-quality early education and care (EEC) and supporting the EEC workforce. The budget invests in those who work with children by increasing rates for early education providers by $20 million and supporting continuing education opportunities with community colleges. The House budget also includes the following EEC investments and initiatives:
$15 million for Head Start grants;
$10 million for sliding fee scale reserve for childcare subsidies;
$10 million for EEC Workforce Higher Education Opportunities;
$2.5 million in early childhood mental health grants;
$11 million for child care resource and referral agencies; and
Establishes the Early Education and care Economic review commission to review childcare funding and make recommendations on policy changes to expand access.
The House budget continues to dedication substantial resources toward supporting public higher education and increases scholarship funding for students. These investments include:
$284 million for state universities;
$305 million for community colleges;
$560 million for the University of Massachusetts system;
$120 million in scholarship funding; and
$4.8 million for the STEM Starter Academy, to support underrepresented students in STEM fields at community colleges.
This fiscal year funded at $19 billion, MassHealth is the largest investment the Commonwealth makes in its most vulnerable residents including the working poor and the homeless. The budget also invests in critical health and human services agencies and providers including:
$307 million for the Department of Children and Families for social workers, family support and stabilization, and foster care and adopted fee waivers;
$30 million in emergency food assistance; and
$13 million for the Healthy Incentives Program.
Keeping in mind those affected by domestic violence, the House budget establishes a grant program to provide domestic violence advocate services across the state to connect survivors with essential services.
In order to support programs for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the House budget increases funding for developmental services to $2.1 billion and includes $264 million for community day and work programs across the Commonwealth. The House budget also includes the following investments:
$236 million for state-operated residential services
$78 million for family respite services; and
$39 million for autism omnibus services.
The budget furthers the House’s ongoing commitment to fight the opioid epidemic. To provide assistance to those who are battling substance addiction, the budget increased funding for the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services to $162 million while offering continued support for step-down recovery services, jail diversion programs, and expansion of access to life-saving medication.
The budget will now go to conference committee for further deliberation before being sent to Governor Baker.