The Massachusetts Senate passed a $156.4 million supplemental budget to cover increased caseloads and time sensitive deficiencies in the Fiscal Year 2018 budget, including additional funding for local school districts’ special education costs and charter school reimbursement funds and programs for Massachusetts children and families.
Senator Jason Lewis highlighted a number of key priorities for local communities included in the supplemental budget including $12.5 million for the Special Education Circuit Breaker, increasing reimbursements to school districts for the high cost of educating students with disabilities, as well as $4 million for charter school reimbursement funds, further supporting our school districts’ budgetary bottom lines.
Further, Senator Lewis, who serves as Senate Chair of the Public Health Committee, was pleased at the inclusion of funds supporting the health and wellness of our communities, especially children, including: $2.2M for the Healthy Incentives Program to increase access to nutritious foods for low-income residents; and, $1M to support the Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund, which invests in community-based efforts to enhance disease prevention and has improved the health of hundreds of thousands of Commonwealth residents.
“This supplemental budget includes much needed investments in public transportation, public education, and public health, three vital components to our overall quality of life and economic well-being,” said Senator Lewis. “This funding will support our schools, our communities, and vulnerable populations in the Commonwealth.”
Recognizing the financial challenges Regional Transit Authorities across the state face in providing reliable, affordable transportation, the supplemental budget invests an additional $4 million in these services.
Additional critical investments include: $25.6M for Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) grants; $19.3M for Emergency Assistance Family Shelters; $15.5M for recently ratified collective bargaining agreements; $5.3M for veterans’ benefits; $2.5M for services for hurricane evacuees residing in Massachusetts; $2M for DCF Family Resource Centers to support increased demand for services from hurricane evacuees; and, $150K for the Municipal Naloxone Bulk Purchasing Trust Fund.
The bill will now be reconciled with a version passed by the House of Representatives before going to the Governor’s desk.
Senator Lewis is the Assistant Majority Whip in the State Senate. He also serves as the Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health and the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development. He also co-founded and co-chairs the legislature’s Prevention for Health Caucus.