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PRESS RELEASE: Representative Sullivan supports passage of $43.1 billion state budget for Fiscal Year 2020

BOSTON – State Representative Alyson Sullivan, R-Abington, recently joined with her legislative colleagues to approve a $43.1 billion state budget for Fiscal Year 2020 that makes record investments in local aid and takes steps to implement some of the Baker-Polito Administration’s recommendations to curb prescription drug prices.

The budget, which passed the House of Representatives on a unanimous vote of 159-0 and the Senate by a 39-1 vote on July 22, calls for increased local aid for cities and towns, particularly in the areas of Chapter 70 education assistance and regional school transportation reimbursements. It also provides for a $476 million deposit in the state’s Stabilization Fund, which will bring the account’s balance to more than $3 billion to help mitigate future spending cuts in the event of an economic downturn.

The budget allocates a total of $5.176 billion for Chapter 70 education aid, which represents an increase of $268.4 million over Fiscal Year 2019 levels. Unrestricted general government aid, which can be used to support a variety of municipal spending priorities, is set at $1.128 billion, a $29.6 million increase over previous funding levels.

Under the proposed budget, Abington will receive $8,933,994 in Chapter 70 education aid and $2,088,894 in unrestricted state aid, East Bridgewater will receive $10,847,253 in Chapter 70 funding and $1,589,463 in unrestricted state aid, Whitman will receive $80,336 in Chapter 70 funding and $2,571,344 in unrestricted state aid and Whitman-Hanson school district will receive $24,776,700.

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, $85,000 for roof repairs and replacement at the Council on Aging in Abington and $30,000 for EB Hope Inc.

The Fiscal Year 2020 budget provides for significant increases in the Special Education Circuit Breaker, Regional School Transportation, and Charter School reimbursement accounts. Circuit breaker reimbursements are funded at $345.1 million, an increase of $25.8 million over Fiscal Year 2019, while Regional School Transportation increased by $7 million, to a total of $75.9 million, which will provide communities with a reimbursement rate of over 80 percent. Charter school reimbursements have also been increased by $25 million, to a total of $115 million.

To help control rising MassHealth costs, the budget authorizes the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to directly negotiate price discounts with drug manufacturers, and allows the Health Policy Commission to intervene if these negotiations are not successful. It also calls for studying the potential savings associated with employing a new purchasing approach for drugs, and assessing ways to increase transparency for pharmacy services by pharmacy benefit managers.

The budget includes $19 million in grants to local Councils on Aging, while maintaining last year’s formula grant rate increase of $12 per elder. It also provides for $415.4 million in nursing home reimbursements, an increase of $50 million, to address recent closures within the industry, and creates a task force to study ways to ensure the future financial stability of the state’s skilled nursing facilities.

Other budget highlights include:

  • $150.2 million for the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services and the establishment of five new recovery centers;
  • $500,000 to provide municipalities with discounts on the purchase of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone;
  • A $20 million increase in early education provider rates; and
  • Language directing a $20 million transfer from any Fiscal Year 2019 surplus to the Community Preservation Trust Fund to assist local efforts to protect open space, create affordable housing and preserve historic properties

Governor Baker has until August 1 to sign the budget and issue any vetoes.