FY 2016 State Budget Sent to Governor

The Legislature has just final given approval to the FY16 state budget. Gov. Baker now has a ten day period to review the budget and make any vetoes so I though this would be a good time to provide you with an overview and also highlight some local and regional priorities that are important to our district.

Every budget presents challenges and difficult choices and this one was no different. However I am pleased to report that this year's budget is balanced, bi-partisan and focuses our resources in important policy areas like substance abuse, economic development and education in a fiscally responsible manner.  

While revenue growth for FY16 is projected to be 4.5 percent, our state budget ($38.1B) adopts a more conservative approach, holding spending to 3.5 percent without adding new taxes or fees. At the same time we were able to make some key investments and policy changes. Here is a brief (well, semi-brief!) budget rundown:

Substance Abuse/Opiate Crisis

  • Establishes a 2-year Vivitrol Pilot Program focused on individuals suffering from opiate or alcohol addiction by allowing for access to vivitrol, a non-narcotic drug that blocks the effect of opiates or alcohol for a period of 30 days, while in an inpatient setting and before discharge to a lower level of care.

  • Establishes a trust fund and program for municipal bulk purchasing of Narcan, the overdose reversal medication.

  • Requires pharmacies in areas with high incidents of opiate overdoes to carry a supply of Narcan at all times.

  • $1.5M to expand opioid prevention grants;

  • $3.1M for a new line item for Recovery High Schools, including $1M to establish two new programs and $3M for new clinical stabilization beds to provide for treatment after detoxification;

  • More than $375M for Adult Community Mental Health Services, $87M for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, and an additional $4 million for the Department of Mental Health to annualize and expand community placements to free up beds in the DMH pipeline.

Education and Local Aid

  • Increase Chapter 70 school aid to $4.5 billion (increase of $111 million) and reverse a cut in the Governor's budget that would have reduced minimum per pupil expenditures which directly impact all of our local school districts. Based on the funding formula Chapter 70 aid is allocated as follows: Pembroke: $13,174,507; Duxbury: $4,860,479; Hanson: $54,345, Whitman-Hanson: $24,219,585

  • Increased Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) to $979M (increase of $34M). Based on the funding formula UGGA is allocated as follows:: Pembroke: $1,549,634; Duxbury: $817,139; Hanson: $1,180,504.

  • Restored $18.6M for Kindergarten Expansion Grants, which had been eliminated in the Governor's original budget These grants help 117 school districts across the state, including ours.

  • Increased funding for Regional School Transportation which directly impacts the Whitman-Hanson School District. This line item had been cut by $18.7M last fall by then Gov. Patrick and Gov. Baker had proposed only level funding it this year at $51.5M. I am pleased to report that the the legislature has increased regional school transportation to $59 million.

  • Fully funded the Special Education Circuit Breaker program at $272M (increase of $18.3M.)

  • Boosts McKinney-Vento reimbursement for the transportation of homeless students to $8.35 million (an increase of $1M), the first increase since fiscal 2013.

  • Restores $1.75M for Vocational education transportation which had been cut last year.

  • $4M to increase access to high-quality early education and care (EEC) for the Commonwealth's youngest children through EEC program quality improvements, including support for workforce development and training opportunities for early educators;

Local & Regional Priorities

  • Pembroke Pond Funds. Working with my colleague Sen. Vinny deMacedo we are pleased to report that the state budget includes a $50,000 appropriation for Pembroke pond clean up and invasive vegetation management.

  • Central Plymouth County Water Management. With the help of Rep. Tom Calter of Kingston the budget includes $50,000 to help the Central Plymouth County Water District Commission manage the ponds in our area. This will especially help in Hanson and Pembroke with regard to our water supply management issue with the City of Brockton

  • Hanson Water Testing. Working with my South Shore colleagues we were able to secure an additonal $20,000 for the Monponsett Watershed Association for testing and reporting of cyanobacteria and related contaminants in Monponsett pond in the towns of Halifax and Hanson.

  • Plymouth County Recovery Coaching Services. Thanks especially to the late Sen. Tom Kennedy and Rep. Jim Cantwell we were able to secure $100,000 to prevent substance abuse & promote addiction recovery in Plymouth County. Recovery coaching is a promising approach using trained individuals in long term recovery to mentor and support individuals entering treatment and/or sustaining long term addiction recovery.

  • Pembroke Public Safety Funds. Again working with my colleague Sen. Vinny DeMacedo we were able to secure $100,000 for public safety improvements in the town of Pembroke.

  • Mental Health Referral Program for Duxbury and Pembroke. The budget includes $100,000 to continue the Project Interface Referral Service here in Plymouth County, now run b the William James College. The service works by connecting callers to providers; serving families through embedded clinicians, and training mental health professionals in suicide prevention.

  • Duxbury Shellfish Treatments. I was pleased to work to Rep. Sarah Peake of Provincetown to make sure the budget again includes $103,000 in funding to help us monitor bacteria in marine waters which can impact our local shellfishing industry.

  • EEE & West Nile Virus treatments. Working with Rep. Angelo D'Emilia of Bridgewater we were able to secure $200,000 for Bristol and Plymouth Counties fo cost of any and all products, equipment, and labor associated with the eradication of the arbovirus, as well as the cost of any other type of pesticide or agent, in order to prevent the spread of eastern equine encephalitis and west nile virus.

  • Preserved TIC Radio Reading Service. Thanks especially to the hard work of my colleague Rep. Jim Cantwell of Marshfield we were able to save state funding for the Talking Information Center's Radio Reading Service. This Marshfield-based service, supported by over 600 volunteers, serves visually impaired and elderly residents across the state with live and friendly readings of magazines and newspapers.

Economic Development

This year's budget emphasizes the importance of enhanced fiscal predictability and sustainable investments, a practice that has raised Massachusetts bond rating to AA+, the highest in the state's history. For the first time since 2007, the budget does not withdraw any funds from the Commonwealth's stabilization fund, leaving the balance in excess of $1 billion. Additional economic development measures include:
  • MassCAN: $1.7 million to establish widespread, progressive computer science curriculum in public school through a public-private matching program.
     
  • Regional Tourism Council. We increased funding by $1.5 million for the 16 Regional Tourism Councils in Massachusetts which supports advertising, outreach, and the creation and production of travel information guides that promote tourism in cities and towns.
  • Talent Pipeline: $1.5M to encourage young innovators to get a head start on their futures by matching stipends for interns at innovation start-ups, and to provide mentoring opportunities for new entrepreneurs;
  • STEM Starter Academy: $4.75M to promote STEM careers at the Commonwealth's community colleges.
  • $2M for the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership to address the shortfall of skilled workers and aid small and mid-sized manufacturing companies though technical assistance and consultant support;
  • $1.5M for a Precision Manufacturing Program, designed to increase the skill set of middle-skilled workers and $2.2M for the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund to train unemployed and low-wage workers for high-demand industries like health care, construction, and education;
  • $600,000 for Regional Economic Development Grants;
  • $1.2M for a new Training Resources and Internship Networks (TRAIN) grant program, a partnership with community colleges to specifically target the long-term unemployed and provide them with training and internship opportunities and the chance to fill resume gaps.

Earned Income Tax Credit

  • The budget includes an increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit increase which  is a big step to address rising income inequality and put more money in the pockets of hard-working families. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) will increse from the current 15% of the federal EITC amount claimed by the tax filer to 23% on January 1, 2016 for tax year 2016.

  • The maximum amount of the credit would increase from $951 to $1,459. The overall increase would assist approximately 415,000 working families who claim the credit. In order to pay for this increase in the EITC, the budget repeals a FAS 109 corporate tax deduction.

Human Services

  • Homelessness Prevention and Services. $90M for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP), $17.9M above the FY 2015 level, and allows for the creation of approximately 764 new mobile vouchers.

  • $31.2M for the HomeBASE program, $5.3M above the FY 2015 level, and allows for approximately 258 additional families to receive the maximum $8,000 benefit in FY 2016.

  • $11.5M in new funding is provided for the Housing Preservation and Stabilization Trust Fund for the provision of affordable housing for low-income families and individuals and $183.2M for Community Based Adult Day and Work Programs that will restore wrap around services to 947 individuals.

  • $55.9M for Family Respite Services, estimated to serve an additional 1,000 families in FY 2016.

  • $12.7M for Autism Adult Community Services to support the full FY 2016 costs of the Autism Bill.

Reforms & Policy Initiatives

  • No Olympic funding without legislative approval. Included in the budget is a provision that protects taxpayer dollars from being spent on the 2024 Olympics, which also includes tax incentives, for the Games if they come to Massachusetts. The provision requires Boston 2024 to formally request funding from the Legislature for any specific project and make their case during a formal hearing.

  • MBTA Oversight: The budget creates an MBTA fiscal management and control board within MassDOT that will have the power to implement measures to ensure financial, operational and managerial stability at the MBTA while operating within a unified state transportation network. It also streamlines accountability at the MBTA by providing the Secretary of Transportation authority to appoint a General Manager for the MBTA.

 

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Rep. Josh S. Cutler
State House, Room 26
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-2080

Legislative Aide: Cole Angley

Please direct campaign or volunteer related inquiries to our local office:
Email: rep@joshcutler.com
Mailing Address: PO Box 2775, Duxbury, MA 02331





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