House and Senate Reach State Budget Compromise

COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
MASSACHUSETTS SENATE
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON 02133-1053

Senator Joan B. Lovely
State Senator
2nd Essex District

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

July 9, 2015

House and Senate Reach State Budget Compromise

(Boston) – Today Senator Joan Lovely announced that the House and Senate enacted a fiscal year 2016 budget compromise yesterday. The legislative budget agreement includes funding for several initiatives to support communities on the North Shore and across the Commonwealth.

“This budget proposal reflects the wants and needs of many North Shore residents that called, emailed, wrote, or visited my Senate office throughout the budget process,” said Senator Joan Lovely. “With reforms to the MBTA and investments to combat substance abuse, this budget addresses many key issues that Massachusetts residents are concerned about.”

Specific North Shore projects within the final budget include $100,000 for a flood mitigation study in Peabody and $100,000 for a public safety grant to review traffic concerns in North Beverly. In Beverly, the funding would review possible improvements to address traffic and public safety issues near the North Beverly train station and Route 1A, including Laurel, Dodge and Enon Streets.

“These two items look to alleviate local issues that many people living and working on the North Shore have to deal with frequently,” said Senator Lovely. “These projects were priorities for my House colleagues and our shared constituents, so I was happy to partner with Representatives Cole, Parisella, and Speliotis to make sure these items were included in the final budget.”

The final budget also allocates $100,000 to North Shore InnoVentures, a nonprofit incubator for technology startups in Beverly. The funding will support early stage biotech and clean tech businesses with the goal of advancing economic development and job creation in the region.

To help communities like Danvers and Salem pay for the cost of transporting homeless students to and from school, the budget provides $8.35 million for McKinney-Vento transportation reimbursements, a $1 million increase over the prior fiscal year. The McKinney-Vento program allows students sheltered in a new municipality to continue attending school in their community of origin. McKinney-Vento requires the host community and community of origin to share the students’ school transportation cost.

“For municipalities working on tight budgets, every additional dollar helps and this is a step towards fulfilling a long overdue commitment to our communities,” said Senator Lovely.

To enhance the Commonwealth’s partnerships with cities and towns, the budget provides $4.5 billion in education funding through Chapter 70 and almost $980 million to Unrestricted General Government Aid. Unrestricted aid helps local government make investments in education, public safety, transportation, and health care.

To improve public transportation, the budget takes immediate steps to address systemic management problems at the MBTA. The reform tools include a 3-year suspension of the statute governing the procurement of private services at the MBTA and:

  • An MBTA fiscal management and control board within MassDOT that will have the power to implement measures to ensure financial, operational and managerial stability at the MBTA;
  • An internal special audit unit within MassDOT to monitor quality, efficiency and integrity of the departments operating and capital programs;
  • Streamlined accountability at the MBTA, including providing the Secretary of Transportation authority to appoint a General Manager for the MBTA.

To combat the current opioid crisis, the budget supports program and initiatives to aid in both prevention and recovery, including:

  • $3 million for new clinical stabilization beds to provide for treatment after detoxification;
  • A municipal Naloxone (narcan) bulk purchasing program to authorize the Department of Public Health to buy and distribute this critical intervention to first responders;
  • A task force to study the feasibility of a prescription drug disposal program;
  • $2.5 million to expand patient access to Vivitrol, a non-narcotic drug that blocks the effect of opiates or alcohol for a period of 30 days;
  • $1.5 million to expand opioid prevention grants;
  • $3.1 million for a new line item for Recovery High Schools, including $1 million to establish two new programs.

To support healthy mothers and children, the budget includes $500,000 to expand the Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Project for Moms statewide to address mental health concerns in pregnant and postpartum women. Additionally, the budget continues the postpartum depression pilot program at community health centers in Holyoke, Jamaica Plain, Lynn, and Worcester. Since the fall of 2013, the pilot program has screened more than 1,400 women for perinatal emotional complications. On June 29, 2015, Senator Lovely was appointed Co-Chair of the Special Commission on Postpartum Depression. Senator Lovely has served as a member on the commission since December 2013.

For the first time since 2007, the $38.145 billion budget does not withdraw any funds from the Commonwealth’s stabilization fund, leaving the balance in excess of $1 billion.

The budget now goes to the Governor for his review. The Governor may approve or veto the entire budget, veto or reduce specific line items, or submit changes to the budget for further consideration by the Legislature.

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