The Massachusetts State House of Representatives and Senate passed a supplemental budget, allowing the Commonwealth to contribute to its “Rainy Day Fund” and invest in infrastructure projects, while providing emergency funding for victims of the Merrimack Valley gas fires, as well as evacuees from Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
“This budget invests in key House priorities including gun safety, infrastructure and responding to emergency incidents, while helping to fortify the state’s future fiscal health,” said House Speaker Robert. A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “These investments will make communities safer, improve our roads and provide protections for those most in need.”
In order to bolster Massachusetts’ financial resiliency, the Legislature dedicated $240 million to the Commonwealth’s stabilization fund, bringing its total balance to $2 billion, the largest amount in the fund in over a decade.
The $10 million reserve for Merrimack Valley is designed to support everything from public safety to housing stability, as the region continues to recover from the gas fires of September 13, 2018. The dedicated funding stream is meant to provide ongoing support for the three municipalities involved, until Columbia Gas reimburses any funds expended in this area.
In addition, the supplemental budget provides much needed funds for basic infrastructure, including $40 million for local roads and bridges and $10 million for water infrastructure.
Furthering the Commonwealth’s commitment to gun safety, the budget invests $10 million for a neighborhood and community-based gun and violent crime prevention program targeting youth ages 17 to 24.
The supplemental budget also allocates $7.5 million to fortify access to mental and behavioral health in public schools. The funding strengthens schools’ ability to provide comprehensive mental and behavioral services to students by allowing the schools to partner with community based health organizations, with the result being children and youth receiving a continuum of care both in and out of school.
“This supplemental budget is the product of the House and Senate working together for the benefit of families across the Commonwealth,” said House Ways and Means Chair Jeffrey Sánchez. “It creates a new violence prevention fund, which will work with community groups to develop strategies to reduce gun violence. It builds on our criminal justice law and complements the new Office of Health Equity as we seek to improve public health outcomes for communities of color. Combined with the fiscally-responsible deposit into the stabilization fund, this supplemental budget improves both the fiscal health of our state finances and the physical health of our residents.”
Community and school safety for children and young adults are also addressed in the supplemental budget, with $7.5 million being dedicated to school safety infrastructure improvements. Furthermore, the supplemental budget dedicates $5 million for Targeted Intervention to continue to address the needs of the Commonwealth’s most challenged schools.
As Massachusetts continues to support those displaced by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, this budget supplies $5 million to assist those ongoing efforts.
The supplemental budget closes out the state’s Fiscal Year 2018 accounting of the state’s surplus funding and enables the state’s comptroller’s office to generate the Commonwealth final fiscal year financial statements for use by financial rating agencies.
Having been passed by the House and Senate, the Fiscal Year 2018 closeout supplemental budget now goes to Governor Baker for his signature.