BOSTON – State Representative Alyson Sullivan, R-Abington, joined with her House colleagues this week to approve a $42.7 billion state budget for
The House budget provides a $218 million increase in Chapter 70 education aid, bringing the statewide total to $5.126
Representative Sullivan noted that the House budget plan in Fiscal Year 2020 will provide Abington with $8,933,994 in Chapter 70 education aid and $2,088,894 in unrestricted state aid, East Bridgewater with $10,847,253 in Chapter 70 funding and $1,589,463 in unrestricted state aid, and Whitman-Hanson school district with $24,776,700 and Whitman with $2,571,344 in unrestricted state aid. During floor debate on the budget, Representative Sullivan was also able to secure funding for several important local initiatives for the 7th Plymouth district, including $20,000 for security purchases and installation of a bi-directional amplifier system in the middle school in East Bridgewater and $30,000 for a study of a centralized fire station in Abington.
To address some of the funding equity concerns raised by the Foundation Budget Review Commission, the House budget sets aside $16.5 million to assist school districts serving a high percentage of low-income students. An additional $2 million has been allocated to the Supporting Healthy Alliances Reinforcing Education (SHARE) grant program, which will help schools address non-academic barriers to student success using community-based resources to improve access to social services and behavioral health providers.
Cities, towns and regional school districts will also see additional education funding under the House budget proposal, which contains:
- $328.8 million for the Special Education Circuit Breaker, a $9.5 million increase over current spending;
- $73.8 million for regional school transportation, a $4.9 million increase over current levels that will provide for an 80 percent reimbursement rate; and
- $113 million for charter school tuition reimbursements, an increase of $23 million.
To help individuals and families struggling with addiction, the House budget provides $143.9 million for the Bureau of Substance Abuse Addiction Services, which includes funding increases for five new recovery centers and the Massachusetts Access to Recovery services. The budget also includes $49.4 million for Substance Use Disorder Trust Fund, and provides EMS and ambulance companies with access to discounted prices on the overdose-reversing drug naloxone.
Several Republican-sponsored initiatives were also adopted as part of the budget, including:
- language directing the State Comptroller to transfer up to $10 million in net surplus funding the Massachusetts Community Preservation Trust Fund to assist cities and towns with their open space, affordable housing, and historic preservation efforts;
- a provision to increase the Conservation Land Tax Credit’s annual cap from $2 million to $5 million over a three-year period to encourage the permanent protection of conservation land;
- an $85,000 appropriation for the NEADS Assistance Dogs for Veterans program to train service dogs for veterans; and
- a $500,000 increase for the Healthy Incentives Program, which provides funding assistance to help low-income residents purchase fresh produce from local farmers, bringing the program’s total appropriation to $4.5 million.
Other budget highlights include:
- $17.9 million in funding for local Councils on Aging
- The creation of a task force to study the financial stability of Massachusetts nursing homes, following the recent closing of several facilities and warnings by the Massachusetts Senior Care Association that up to 35 additional facilities are at risk of closing this year;
- a $35 million supplemental rate increase for nursing homes; and
- the implementation of the Division of Marine Fisheries’ recommendation to permit the possession, sale and processing of lobster parts in Massachusetts.
The budget now moves to the Senate, which is expected to release its own spending proposal on May 8.