The Network is communicating with our Western MA Senators to request their support of the following amendments to the Senate Ways and Means (SWM) Budget, per our FY16 budget priorities. Please email or call your Senator and add your Network voice ((find your Senator’s contact info by going here). Note: If Senate President Rosenberg is your senator, while he cannot sponsor amendments in his position, it is still extremely important to communicate your support!
Thanks to the Mass. Coalition for the Homeless for this analysis below of the Senate Ways and Means Budget Recommendations released yesterday. Stay tuned for the Network Action Alert on Network Budget Priorities.
The Massachusetts Law Reform Institute offers this initial analysis:
The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center offers this HERE, along with this summary narrative:
The House Ways and Means Committee released its budget blueprint for fiscal year 2016. It recommends targeted investments in some important areas including early education and care, affordable housing, and opiate abuse prevention and treatment. The HWM budget also rejects some cuts proposed by the Governor, including the elimination of Kindergarten Expansion Grants.
For a full analysis of this HWM proposal, please read our Budget Monitor available HERE.
The HWM budget also proposes new cuts to some important programs including workforce training for low income parents and youth jobs and violence prevention efforts. Like the Governor’s proposal, the HWM budget relies heavily on temporary strategies. Both versions spend $300 million in capital gains tax revenue that would have gone into the Rainy Day Fund under current law. They also both count on $100 million from a tax amnesty and $116 million from putting off paying some of our FY2016 MassHealth bills into FY 2017.
Ultimately, the shortcomings of this budget proposal mirror those of the Governor’s and reflect ongoing challenges that our Commonwealth has faced for more than a decade: after cutting the income tax by over $3 billion dollars between 1998 and 2002 we have experienced deep cuts to things that strengthen our communities and our economy. Between 2001 and 2015, for instance, funding for higher education has been cut 21 percent, environmental protection and recreation (parks, swimming pools, rinks) has been cut 33 percent, local aid has been cut 44 percent, early education and care has been cut 24 percent and funding for public health has been cut 24 percent (all numbers adjusted for inflation).
Please click HERE to read the full Budget Monitor.
Today at 5 pm is the deadline to file amendments to the House Ways and Means Budget. I have summarized below (or find here to print Network Co-Sponsorship Requests) the amendments pertaining to Network priorities and the relevant representatives on each. Our job is to either thank those who have filed the amendments or to ask for our representatives to join as co-sponsors.
Top on our list to thank from our region:
Representative Peter Kocot (Northampton) – Peter.Kocot@mahouse.gov – for sponsoring the amendment to continue Network funding at $125,000 (this funding is critical to allow us to continue our work as a Network) and for his support of Secure Jobs and all Network priorities!
Representative Joseph Wagner (Chicopee) -Joseph.Wagner@mahouse.gov – for sponsoring the amendment to level fund the Secure Jobs program at $2 million.
Representative Aaron Vega (Holyoke) – Aaron.Vega@mahouse.gov – for his ardent support of Secure Jobs (and I trust the other amendments as well, I just have not heard back from him yet).
Representative John Scibak (South Hadley) John.Scibak@mahouse.gov, Representative Farley-Bouvier (Pittsfield), Tricia.Farley-Bouvier@mahouse.gov, Representative John Velis (Westfield), John.Velis@mahouse.gov – for immediately signing on as co-sponsor to all of our amendments. I’m sure there will be more but that is who we know for now!
Then I would ask that you contact your own representative to ask him/her to add their names in co-sponsorship to each of the amendments below. Please contact ASAP as some offices have deadlines sooner than 5 pm.
Finally, the great news on one of our priorities – funding the Housing Consumer Education Centers at FY14 levels – made it into the House Ways and Means budget. So the thing to do there is thank Rep. Kulik -Stephen.Kulik@mahouse.gov – for his leadership on this!
Thanks for your support and your advocacy. I will keep you posted!
Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness – Line item 7004-0102 (Representative Kocot): This amendment of $125,000 to the Network is vital to the continuation of the Network’s efforts to facilitate regional coordination and implement the Western Massachusetts Opening Doors Plan to End Homelessness.
Secure Jobs Initiative – Line Item 7004-9322: (Representative Wagner) – This initiative has proven tremendously successful in the Western region and the state in providing homeless families with job opportunity and stable housing. In order to level fund this initiative and its 7 programs statewide, this amendment will fund these partnerships at $2,000,000.
Individual Homeless Emergency Shelters: Line Item 7004-0102 (Representative Mahoney): This amendment would increase funding from $43,200,335 to $48,5000 to address the funding gap for Western Massachusetts shelters while serving to better meet the need of all individual emergency shelters statewide. We are continuing to advocate for an amendment to increase the nightly bed rate to the average of $32/night from the current $25/night and will keep you posted if an amendment to that effect is filed.
Unaccompanied Homeless Youth (Representative O’Day):(1) Amendment to EOHHS administrative line item, 4000-0300: This amendment would provide $1.5 million for support services to unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness, and (2) Amendment to DHCD administrative line item, 7004-0099: This amendment would provide $2.5 for housing to unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness. Together, these amendments will enable the Commonwealth to fulfill its commitment to better meet the housing and service needs for the increasing numbers of unaccompanied homeless youth across our region and state.
Tenancy Preservation Project: Line Item 7004-3045(Representative Brady): This amendment will increase funding to the Tenancy Preservation Project from $500,000 to $1 million statewide to provide eviction prevention services to disabled individuals and families