The Massachusetts House of Representatives has passed its FY17 state budget, highlighting the House’s ongoing commitment to balancing fiscal prudence with targeted social service investments, a practice that has resulted in Massachusetts retaining its AA+ bond rating, the highest in the state’s history.
The $39.5 billion budget, which was approved unanimously by Democrats and Republicans, includes no new taxes or fees and reduces the Commonwealth’s reliance on one-time revenue sources. For the second year in a row, it does not withdraw any funds from the stabilization fund.
The budget extends the House’s longstanding reputation as a champion of municipalities. With increases in both local education funding and Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA), this budget raises local aid by $159 million from FY16. It provides $55 in per-pupil-aid, more than doubling last year’s expenditure, and fully funds Special Education Circuit Breaker.
Locally, the budget provides funding for a number of critical projects, including
- $50,000 for public safety expenses in the town of Pembroke
- $30,000 for improvements at Camp Kiwanee in Hanson
- $20,000 for water management and treatment of Wampatuck Pond in Hanson
- $200,000 for Plymouth & Bristol Counties to combat EEE and West Nile Virus
- $100,000 for Interface Program which provides mental health referral services for Duxbury, Pembroke and many other South Shore communities
- $100,000 toward the Plymouth 400th programming which will benefit our region
- $200,000 for the Nathan Hale Center in Plymouth which provides services to veterans in our district
- Ensures that insurance companies provide long-term antibiotic treatment for patients Lyme Disease when medically necessary
Recognizing the immense impact that high-quality EEC has on the lives of our residents – both children and adults – the budget makes targeted investments to support the EEC workforce while expanding access to high-quality programming. EEC investments include a $15 million rate reserve, continued support for expanding pre-kindergarten opportunities, and $2M to ensure access to quality EEC programming. The budget also provides $18.6 million for Kindergarten Expansion Grants.
For the fifth year in a row, this budget increases funding for community colleges, state universities and UMass. It also provides:
- $96.6 million for a state scholarship program which benefits Massachusetts residents attending both private and public colleges;
- $4.75 million for the STEM Starter Academy, a House-created initiative for community college students which has shown notable early success;
- $1.7 million to support inclusive higher education learning opportunities for students with disabilities between the ages of 18 and 22 years.
Since FY12, the Legislature has increased funding for substance addiction services by more than 65% and passed two landmark bills to help address this public health epidemic. This year’s budget makes notable investments for behavioral health, including new funding of more than $28 million for the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services and $13 million for the Department of Mental Health. These investments include:
- $2 million for 46 new transitional support services beds, boosting the state’s capacity by more than 13 percent;
- $2 million for new supportive case management services that will benefit 500 families;
- Funding for 45 substance addiction treatment beds at Taunton State Hospital;
- $1.5 million to expand district attorney trafficking and heroin diversion programs;
- A $3 million pilot for Medication Assisted Therapy in emergency rooms.
In additional to behavioral health and substance addiction initiatives, the House’s budget features numerous provisions to support Massachusetts’ most vulnerable citizens including:
- Increases the Department of Children & Families’ budget by more than $23 million. A portion of this funding will support new and recently hired employees;
- Increases the Department of Developmental Services’ budget by $45 million;
- Boosts funding for Family Respite Services to assist an addition 3,000;
- Provides more than $30 million for domestic violence and sexual assault prevention and treatment programs;
- Increases the Councils on Aging formula grant to $10 per individual, per year.
The House has a longstanding history of enacting effective programs to combat homelessness. As of March 31, 2016, Massachusetts’ shelter population fell below 4,000 for the first time since August of 2013; and the number of families in hotels and motels has dropped by more than 1,500. This year the House continues to enhance its efforts by:
- Providing more than $155 million for the Emergency Assistance Family Shelter Program;
- Since FY10 funding for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) has increased by more than 300%. This year MRVP is funded at $100 million which will result in 375 new vouchers;
- Funding the HomeBASE program at $31.9 million.
MassHealth remains the largest expense in the Commonwealth’s budget. Notably, this legislation contains MassHealth spending growth to 5 percent from FY16 while maintaining member benefits and eligibility. It provides the Health Safety Net with a $15 million transfer and institutes a five-year Delivery System Reform Incentive Program to maximize federal funding as the state moves toward an accountable-care-organization model of health care delivery.
Here is a more detailed breakdown of major budget areas with specific line items.
Chapter 70 School Aid (7061-0008) The House budget includes $4,607,665,795 for Chapter 70 aid, which represents a $ 95.8 million increase over FY16. This increase in Chapter 70 aid will keep school districts at foundation levels of spending and guarantees a minimum increase of $55 per pupil for every district.
Pembroke: $13,344,512; Duxbury: $5,031,584; Whitman-Hanson: $24,436,230
Regional School Transportation (7035-0006) The House budget includes $60,021,000 for regional school transportation, which represents a $1 million increase over the current FY16 level. Increased funding for this line item will help provide additional support to many communities that rely heavily on this funding as a major source of local aid.
Non-Resident Vocational Student Transportation (7035-0007) The final House budget reinstates the non-resident vocational student transportation line item and appropriates $250,000. This funding provides reimbursement to school districts for the transportation costs associated with students who attend out-of-district Voc-Tech schools.
Special Education Circuit Breaker (7061-0012): The House Budget includes $276,631,180 for the Special Education Circuit Breaker, which represents a $4.9 million increase over the current FY16 level.
Charter School Reimbursement (7061-9010): The House budget includes $85,500,000 for Charter School Reimbursement, which represents a $5 million increase over the current FY16 level.
After-School/Out-of-School Grants (7061-9611): The consolidated amendment provides $2,295,000 for the After-School/Out-of-School Grant program, which represents a $795,000 increase over the HWM appropriation but a $15,000 decrease over the current FY16 level. After School/Out-of-School grants provide opportunities for children to participate in activities outside of the traditional classroom setting. Many of these students participate in STEM activities as well as other programs that help prepare them for 21st century careers. Other programs are provided during the summer, which help diminish summer learning loss.
EARLY EDUCATION & LIBRARIES
Early Education Salary Reserve (1599-0042): The consolidated amendment provides $15 million for the Early Education Salary Reserve line item, which represents a $5 million increase over the HWM appropriation and a $10 million increase over the current FY16 level. This funding will help increase salaries for early educators, which will ultimately increase teacher retention and improve quality.
Head Start (3000-5000): The consolidated amendment provides $9,100,000 for Head Start Grants, which represents a $500,000 increase over the HWM appropriation, bringing it to the current FY16 level. This is a federal school readiness program, which provides comprehensive services to families in the Commonwealth living at or below the poverty level.
Early Education Quality Improvements (3000-1020): The consolidated amendment provides $32,530,665 for early education quality improvements, which represents a $1 million increase over the HWM appropriation. This new line item brings together an array of early education initiatives previously funded through separate line-items that focus on improving the quality of services provided to preschool-age kids throughout the state. This line item also includes a $4 million earmark for training, research and grants related to the development of the Massachusetts Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS), and also reserves $2 million for direct grants to early education programs participating in the QRIS.
Pre-K Expansion Grants (3000-6025): The consolidated amendment establishes a new line item to support pre-K expansion and appropriates $200,000. This new line item will fund planning grants to school districts that are currently providing pre-K opportunities to help them expand access to such opportunities for children from 2 years and 9 months to 3 years and 11 months old. In addition, this line item directs the department of early education and care to report on the status of several existing preschool expansion initiatives, including the federal Preschool Expansion Grants program.
Section 46B: Homeless Student Transportation Commission: The consolidated amendment includes an outside section that establishes a commission to review and make recommendations on ways to improve transportation for homeless students across the commonwealth.
Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment (7009-9600): The consolidated amendment provides $1,666,235 for the Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment line item, which represents a $500,000 increase over the HWM appropriation and a $466,235 increase over the current FY16 level. This line item funds grants for college-school partnerships to support eligible public high school students with intellectual disabilities, ages 18-22, to increase their academic and career success through participation in college and university activities, thereby developing career-planning, self-advocacy and new life skills.
State Aid to Regional Libraries (7000-9401): The final House budget includes $10,133,482 for State Aid to Regional Libraries, which represents a $250,000 increase over the HWM appropriation and a $150,000 increase over the current FY16 level.
State Aid to Public Libraries (7000-9501): The consolidated Amendment provides $9,500,000 for State Aid to Public Libraries, which represents a $500,000 increase over the HWM amount and a $471,000 increase over the current FY16 level. The funding from this line item follows a formula that is specific to and only designated for local libraries, and is used for a number of essential functions for these important public institutions that provide numerous cultural and educational services for Massachusetts’ residents.
PUBLIC HEALTH & SUBSTANCE ABUSE PREVENTION
Bureau of Substance Abuse Services (4512-0200): The appropriation for the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services in fiscal year 2016 was $98,239,903. The House budget appropriated $126,588,987 for this line item, a 29% increase from last year and a 3% increase from the Governor’s recommendations. In addition, another $2,384,000 was appropriated to the Bureau through amendments. The Bureau of Substance Abuse Services performs a vital function, particularly with the rise in opioid addiction. The Bureau is the single state authority that oversees substance abuse and addiction services in the Commonwealth. This account earmarks $2,000,000 for new transitional support service beds, $2,000,000 for new supportive case management services, and $1,180,000 for an extended release naltrexone pilot program.
Medication-Assisted Treatment Pilot Program: The budget includes appropriation of $3 million to establish a pilot program within two hospital emergency departments for the administration of medication assisted treatments to those suffering from substance use disorder. Individuals who present to an emergency department with suspected overdose will be provided with a first-dose of medication-assisted treatment, such as Vivitrol or Suboxone, and referred to resources in the community to continue outpatient care.
Community-Based Substance Abuse Services: The budget includes appropriations for a number of community-based organizations that address substance use disorder prevention and treatment. New Beginnings, appropriated $100,000, provides school-based programming for youth prevention of substance abuse, highlighting the struggles of youth development that may lead to addiction. The Manet Community Health Center has been appropriated $150,000 to develop a behavioral health pilot for assessment, counseling, and treatment of individuals with mental health and substance abuse diagnoses.
Statewide Initiative for Opiate-Dependent Newborns: The budget includes $100,000 for a statewide program, administered by the Department of Public Health, to improve the care of newborns with neonatal abstinence syndrome. The program is designed to encourage collaboration between medical providers, community organizations, and public health agencies to educate and ensure standardization across health care facilities in the treatment of newborns with abstinence syndrome. These measures are aimed to improve outcomes for newborns, including reduction in length of stay and pharmacologic treatment.
Substance Abuse Services Trust Fund: The budget provides for a $1,000,000 transfer to the Substance Abuse Services Trust Fund to provide increased treatment services such as detoxification, clinical stabilization services, and residential and outpatient treatment. In addition, the fund will provide for education of primary care providers in identifying addiction and promoting referral to certified addiction specialists when necessary. These funds will also allow for a statewide assessment of the range of services and appropriate expansion of services.
Restoration of Youth At Risk program funding (4590-1507): This amendment restores important funding for the Youth At Risk program which funds services for youth at Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCA/YWCAs, and other organizations serving youth. The amendment increased the final House budget line item for this program by $2.4 million, from $1.9 million to $4.3 million.
Increase for Comprehensive Family Planning Services (4513-1000): This amendment increases important funding for family planning services targeted to low-income residents to prevent unintended pregnancies and STD’s, including HIV/AIDS. These funds work to reduce infant mortality and morbidity, and improve the overall health of individuals and communities. The amendment increased the final House Budget line item for this program by $1.0 million, to a total of $5.6 million.
Restoration of Early Intervention funding (4513-1020): This amendment restores funding for the Early Intervention program, and also increases funding to bring the line item total to $28.4 million. This increase will ensure these services are available to all families who seek them.
SENIOR CITIZENS & VETERANS
Council on Aging Formula Grants: The Councils on Aging represent one of the most significant increases within Fiscal Year 2017’s budget that will positively impact older adults and our cities and towns. The formula grant increased from $9 to $10 per senior, funding the Councils on Aging at $14,650,000. Councils on Aging conduct more than 100 programs including, information and referral, outreach, transportation, meals, health screening, health insurance information benefits counseling, fitness, recreation, computer access, education and life-long learning activities, as well as a myriad of other programs and services unique to each community.
Senior Nutrition Grants: The Senior Nutrition Program is now funded at $7,256,375. This program provides seniors with congregate dining, meeting one-third of their nutritional needs for the day, as well as socialization. For seniors who are home and isolated, programs like “Meals on Wheels” may provide the only hot meal of the day and the person who delivers that meal may perhaps the senior’s only human contact that day.
Elder Home Care program: The Elder Home Care program, within three line items, provides care and services to seniors in their homes and community, allowing seniors to age in place. These services include homemaking, personal care, medical assistance and other individualized services through the Aging Services Access Points. The Elder Home Care program is now funded at $209,626,454.
Prescription Advantage program: This year’s budget also provides $18,521,922 for the Prescription Advantage program. This drug insurance program allows many of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable and frail seniors to receive their needed medications when overwhelmed by costs and the Medicare “donut hole”.
Elder Protective Services. Protective services are now funded at $28,048,120. Elder abuse includes physical, emotional and sexual abuse, neglect by a caregiver, self-neglect and financial exploitation. The goal of protective services is to remedy or alleviate the abusive situation and to prevent the reoccurrence of abuse. This increase in funding allows for additional support in protecting older adults from these hardships.
Veterans outreach services. Boosted funding for services to veterans, including the maintenance and operation of outreach centers, including counseling to incarcerated veterans and to Vietnam era veterans who may have been exposed to agent orange and the families of such veterans.
Assistance Dogs (NEADS): Provided additional funding for the NEADS Assistance Dogs for Veterans program to train assistance dogs for veterans.
Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (7002-0040): Provides $2 million to the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation for their small business technical assistance grant program, which provides competitive grants to businesses with 20 employees or fewer for targeted training and technical assistance.
Start-up Mentoring and Talent Pipeline Program (7002-1508): Provides $1.5 million to support two programs run by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. The Start-Up Mentoring Program connects early-stage entrepreneurs, technology start-ups, and small businesses with successful, experienced firms and capital financing. The Talent Pipeline Program supports stipends for interns at technology and innovation start-ups through dollar-for-dollar private matches.
Massachusetts Office of Business Development (7007-0300): Provides over $1.5 million for the operation of the Massachusetts Office of Business Development. MOBD helps businesses looking to locate or expand in Massachusetts access the Commonwealth’s wide array of business development resources.
Small Business Development Center (7007-0800): Provides over $1.1 million for the Small Business Development Center at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. The center offers free technical assistance to small businesses at locations throughout the Commonwealth. The center also organizes free or low-cost seminars, workshops and conferences addressing a wide range of concerns for both startups and existing firms.
Job Program for At-Risk Youth, "Youth Works" (7002-0012): The House budget provides $9,700,000, to Youth Works. This program is administered by the Department of Career Services and provides subsidized job opportunities for low-income and at-risk youth aged 14-21 in over 30 select cities across the Commonwealth. With a youth unemployment rate that has more than doubled in the past decade, it is vital that we continue to invest in job opportunities for our youth.
One-Stop Career Centers 7003-0803: The House budget provides $4,000,000 for One-Stop Career Centers. This funding will help ensure Career Centers have adequate resources to assist unemployed workers across the State.
Massachusetts Service Alliance (7003-1206): The House budget provides $3,425,000 for various service alliance affiliates across the Commonwealth. The increased funding for this line item will be distributed across the State to various community service and volunteerism organizations, including the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, the New England Farm Workers’ Council, the St. Francis House, and expanding workforce efforts at the Pine Street Inn in Boston.
Precision Manufacturing Workforce Development Fund: This new line item will help the Commonwealth expand one of the State’s fastest growing and most dynamic industries. This fund will provide training for unemployed and underemployed individuals, including veterans, to support the workforce needs of the State’s manufacturing sector.
The House budget adds $1 million to the Shannon anti-gang grant program, providing an appropriation of $6 million. The House also included $2.5 million for a community policing grant program that has been unfunded for many years.
- Provides $607.5M for the Department of Correction
- Provides $573.9M for the Sheriffs’ Departments
- Provides $378.9M for the Department of State Police, which includes 150 new graduates
- Provides $2.5M for a new Community-Based Policing Grant to address substance abuse and promote other community engagement programs
- Increases minimum salary for assistant district attorneys to $45,000 per year.
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Safe and Successful Youth Initiative (4000-0005): Safe and Successful Youth Initiative receives $6,000,000 in increased funding for youth violence prevention programs. This is a $1,400,000 increase from last year.
MassHealth CommonHealth Plan (4000-0430): MassHealth CommonHealth Plan receives $155,037,096 to provide care to disabled adults and children, an increase of $8,000,000.
MassHealth Managed Care (4000-0500): MassHealth Managed Care receives $5,496,523,203 for health care services provided to recipients in the Primary Care Clinician (PCC) Plan, Managed Care Organization (MCO) plans, Senior Care Options (SCO) Plan, and the Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) Plan. This money also funds payments to the MA Behavioral Health Partnership as the PCC Plan’s behavioral health vendor. This account provides up to $20,000,000 for the Infrastructure and Capacity Building (ICB) grants as authorized by the 1115 Medicaid waiver. ICB grants are designed to assist hospitals and community centers invest in new payment methodologies.
MassHealth Senior Care (4000-0600): MassHealth Senior Care receives $3,516,116,093 to provide care for seniors both in nursing homes and community settings, an increase of $539,000,000. This line item funds a personal care allowance of $78.20 per month for nursing home and rest home residents, which allows these residents to cover personal needs not paid for by MassHealth like clothing, telephone calls and haircuts. It also supports MassHealth’s long term care pre-admission and counseling program, and maintains adjusted payment rates for kosher foods.
MassHealth Nursing Home Supplemental Rates (4000-0640): Nursing Home Supplemental Rates receives $347,900,000 for nursing home supplemental pay rates. This includes $2,800,000 in funding for pay-for-performance payments to nursing homes to ensure quality of care.
MassHealth Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment (4000-0875): MassHealth Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment receives $6,191,803 for the provision of benefits to eligible women needing medical treatment for breast or cervical cancer.
MassHealth Family Assistance Plan (4000-0880): MassHealth Family Assistance Plan receives $333,308,169 for the purpose of providing health insurance coverage for children with family incomes up to 300% FPL and young adults ages 19-20 up to 150% FPL. This type of coverage is also available for some low-income adults and some people with HIV. This is an increase of $79,500,000.
Small Business Premium Assistance (4000-0885): Small Business Premium Assistance receives $34,042,020 to provide health insurance subsidies to employees of small businesses. This funding is for persons who are not eligible for subsidized insurance through the Connector and who are not eligible for MassHealth.
Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative (4000-0950): Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative receives $240,077,183 for administrative and program expenses associated with proving comprehensive, community-based behavioral health services to children suffering from severe emotional disturbances. This is an $18,700,000 increase from last year.
Children’s Medical Security Plan (4000-0990): Children’s Medical Security Plan receives $17,471,111 to provide primary and preventive health services for uninsured children from birth through age 18. This is a $4,200,000 increase.
Brain Injury Support Services (4000-1425): Brain Injury Support Services receives $71,646,393 for administrative and program expenses associated with providing community support services for individuals with acquired brain injury residing in long-term care facilities through the Hutchinson settlement. This is a $22,000,000 increase.
HHS Information Technology (4000-1700): HHS Information Technology receives $117,664,941 to pay for information technology expenses related to the EOHHS, which includes the various websites and information databases, which contribute to research, education, and public outreach.
Section 42A. Common Application Study: The Office of Medicaid with the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Department of Transitional Assistance, will study and report on the feasibility of a common application for MassHealth and programs administered through the Department of Transitional Assistance, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.