Network Priorities and the Senate Ways and Means Budget

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There is a lot of good news in the Senate Ways and Means Committee’s proposed budget that was released this week. Click here for a breakdown of the budget in relation to Network priorities.

The good news:
* Unaccompanied homeless youth was funded at the requested $5 million, an increase of $1.7 million from last year as well as the Governor’s and House budgets.
* Secure Jobs Initiative received $2 million, doubling its funding relative to last year and the Governor’s and House budgets.
*Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP) was funded at $8 million, an almost $2 million increase, from FY19 (this program is key for housing chronically homeless individuals), higher than the Governor’s and House budgets.
* Mass Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) was funded at $110 million, same as the House budget and up from level funding by the Governor (although we are seeking $130 million so an Amendment to come), and language was also added to adjust rent levels to be consistent with the Fair Market Rent (BIG progress!).
* Adult Basic Education/ESOL was funded at the Network (and Statewide ABE Coalition’s) request of $38.1 million, up from $33.35 million in FY19, more or less consistent with the House’s FY20 budget and up from the Governor’s FY20 budget of $37.6 million.

The not good news (for now):
* Homeless Individuals Assistance line-item (funds emergency shelters) received $5 million less than the House budget, down to $48.3 million from $53.3 million, and just barely over the FY19 level.
* Regional Transit Authorities, while funded at $90.5 million – the requested amount – would have $4 million of that total be performance-based and awarded at the discretion of the MassDOT. As the funding allocation currently stands, the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority would suffer a $1 million deficit in FY20.
*MassHire Career Centers were funded at $3.96 million, a decrease from FY19’s level of $4.06 million, up against significant federal cuts (the FY20 state request was at $6 million).

Regional earmarks:
* An amendment will be filed by Senator Adam Hinds to fund the Berkshire Regional Winter Overflow Shelter at $150,000.
* An amendment will be filed by Senator Jo Comerford to fund the Western MA Network to End Homelessness at $75,000.
* An amendment will be filed by Senator Jo Comerford to explicitly attach Craig’s Doors shelter to funding that is likely to be maintained in the budget (already explicitly included in the Governor’s budget).

Amendments must be filed by noon today, May 10, and co-sponsors can sign-on in support of Amendments up until Senate debate begins the week of May 20.

Please stay tuned for further advocacy updates early next week.