Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury) announced that the Senate passed its version of the Fiscal Year 2017 budget, investing in key areas related to local aid, education, children’s health and safety, housing, health and human services, workforce training and economic development.
The $39.558 billion budget limits the use of one-time revenue sources and directs $211M to the state’s Stabilization Fund to continue to rebuild this financial safety net, an ongoing Senate priority.
“In addition to increased funding for local aid, I am particularly proud of this year’s targeted investments to support the Commonwealth’s network of higher education institutions,” said Sen. Moore. “The Senate budget also helps support ongoing efforts to curtail the opioid epidemic by providing the tools to support proven policy initiatives and substance abuse prevention being carried out in communities across the state.”
Several Moore-sponsored amendments that directly benefit the Second Worcester District were also adopted as part of the Senate budget including:
- $100K to assist the Children’s Advocacy Center of Worcester County which strives to reduce the trauma to young people who may be victims of physical and/or sexual abuse.
- $27K to assist with public safety improvements in the Town of Upton including funding to help the Town replace outdated defibrillators in police cruisers and fire trucks.
- $50K to assist the nonprofit organization CENTRO with providing community outreach and education efforts to the Hispanic senior citizens of Worcester.
- $50K for Coes Pond in Worcester to help address issues relative to weed overgrowth. The funds would be applied to chemical treatments, dredging, water chestnut removal and other practices to enhance the Pond and the area John Binienda Memorial Beach.
- $50K to establish a substance abuse treatment clinic in Shrewsbury for veterans. The clinic will be operated by Veterans, Inc. and will be staffed by licensed mental health providers.
- $47K to support municipal improvements in the Town of Grafton including perpetual care of the community’s war memorials and other projects identified by the community.
- $25K to support weed control efforts and public safety enhancements on Lake Quinsigamond.
- $56K for public safety improvements in the Town of Northbridge including an updated cross-match fingerprint and palm print system for the police department and new defibrillators.
- $15K to assist with weed control efforts on Lake Singletary which is located within the Towns of Millbury and Sutton.
- $60K to support a joint proposal for UMass Memorial EMS to provide tactical EMS support to the Massachusetts State Police STOP Team.
- $20K to support a project by the Department of Public Works in the Town of Millbury.
The Senate’s budget takes a holistic approach to early childhood education and care and elementary and secondary education, with a focus on building family and community relationships.
- $4.63B in Chapter 70 education aid, a $116.1M increase benefiting every school district, including a minimum increase of $55 per pupil and 85% effort reduction.
- $10M for salary increases to early education providers.
- $2.5M for Youth At-Risk Matching Grants to community youth organizations, including Boys & Girls Clubs and YMCAs.
- $2M for new preschool expansion grants to expand high-quality preschool programs that prepare young children for future educational success.
- $750K for the Mentoring Matching Grant program.
The Senate included landmark language to overhaul the Chapter 70 formula to fund Massachusetts school districts more fairly and adequately in the future. As recommended by the Foundation Budget Review Commission (FBRC) last year, the new formula better accounts for school districts’ rising health insurance costs and the high cost of educating students with special needs, English Language Learners and low income students. The budget also establishes a taskforce to identify the most accurate way of counting low income students and requires the House, Senate and Administration to determine a schedule for funding the FBRC’s recommendations.
The Senate budget also invests in children’s mental health, safety and welfare in an effort to ensure all children grow up in a supportive environment.
- $223.5M for Department of Children and Families Social Workers, allowing DCF to hire an additional 100 social workers and 125 social worker technicians, moving closer to an 18:1 caseload ratio.
- $88.2M for Children’s Mental Health Services, including $3.6M for the Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Project and $50K for an Early Childhood Mental Health Partnership.
- $12.5M for Family Resource Centers providing crucial mental health, substance abuse treatment and family support services.
- $1M for the Office of the Child Advocate and language to increase its independence to further its mission to protect the health, safety and well-being of children under the care of the Commonwealth.
In order to strengthen families, the Senate’s budget invests in programs to connect individuals, families and vulnerable populations with housing and supportive services.