Legislature Passes Balanced Budget With Targeted Investments in Education, Housing, Environment – Charlestown Patriot-Bridge

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State Rep. Dan Ryan, along with his colleagues in the
Massachusetts Legislature, passed its Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) budget recently,
which invests in programs and services across the Commonwealth. Funded at $43.1
billion, the budget makes major investments in education, housing, substance
use disorder services, health care, and other areas while projecting a more
than $476 million deposit into the Stabilization Fund – bringing the fund’s
balance to more than $3 billion to safeguard the future of vital programs and
services.

“I am proud of this fiscally responsible budget that
supports the needs of individuals, families, and communities across the
Commonwealth through thoughtful investments that increase local aid, strengthen
our health care system and protect the environment,” said House Speaker Robert
A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “This budget bolsters our ongoing efforts to combat the
opioid crisis, invest in high-quality early education and care and makes
another significant deposit into the state’s Stabilization Fund. These
investments will have a long and lasting positive effect on the residents of
Massachusetts. I want to thank Chair Michlewitz for his leadership and my
colleagues in the House, especially those on the conference committee, who
worked to put this package together.”

State Rep. Dan Ryan said he was very happy to see the
overall investments in the State Budget, and he said his district also made out
very well this year with several earmarks in the budget.

In Charlestown, those included:

•Charlestown Veteran’s Park $50,000 (DCR)

•DCR Land Use Planning Study $50,000 (DCR)

•Harvest on Vine $25,000 (Emergency Food Assistance)

•New Health- Health Center $100,000 (Community Health Center)

•Charlestown Coalition $25,000 (Substance Abuse)

•Special Townies $25,000 (Developmental Services)

 The budget increases
Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) by nearly $30 million and provides
$5.17 billion in Chapter 70 education funding as part of a $268 million
increase for investments in schools over Fiscal Year 2019.  In addition, the budget includes a $10.5
million reserve for low-income students while the Joint Committee on Education
continues its work on this issue. It also addresses the need for integrated
student health and wellness supports, providing $2 million to establish the
Supporting Health Alliances Reinforcing Education (SHARE) grant program to
address non-academic barriers to school success. The budget expands the role of
the Office of the Child Advocate to oversee integrated coordination of
education and health programming. Additional education allocations include:

•$345 million for Special Education reimbursement;

•$115 million for Charter School Reimbursement; and

•$75.8 million for Regional School Transportation
reimbursement.

The budget builds on the Legislature’s commitment to
ensuring children have access to high-quality early education and care (EEC).
The budget invests in those who work with children by increasing rates for
early education providers by $20 million and supporting continuing education
opportunities with community colleges. The conference report provides $7.5
million for the Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative to expand access
across the Commonwealth. The budget also includes additional investments into
Head Start grants and quality improvement measures in core EEC programming.

The budget represents some of the biggest increases seen in
a generation when it comes to housing and homelessness funding. Access to safe,
adequate, and affordable housing is essential and provides the foundation from
which families and individuals can lead successful lives. This year, the budget
continues these efforts by providing:

•$116 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program
(MRVP);

•$72 million for Public Housing Subsidies;

•$8 million for Alternative Housing Voucher Program; and

•$53.4 million for Homeless individual shelters.

The budget continues make investments in the Commonwealth’s
efforts to fight the opioid epidemic – a public health crisis that has touched
nearly every household across the Commonwealth. To help those in need, the
budget gives all EMS and ambulance companies access to discounted naloxone,
making it more available for use in the field. In addition, the budget includes:

•$150.2 million for the Bureau of Substance Addiction
Services, which will help create five new recovery centers across Massachusetts
and support substance use disorder workforce initiatives; and

•$5.5M for a comprehensive statewide strategy for community-based
harm reduction services.

For the first time in nearly 20 years, the budget will increase the
Commonwealth’s contribution into the Community Preservation Act, which will
ensure that over $36 million more will be distributed to projects all across the
Commonwealth and help raise the state’s match up to 30 percent for investments
in open space, affordable housing and historic preservation.

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