BOSTON – The Massachusetts State Senate passed a $779.8 million closeout supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 2019 on Thursday. The legislation would transfer $356 million to the state’s stabilization fund, building the Commonwealth’s Rainy Day Fund and placing the state on firmer financial footing. At approximately $3.2 billion, the fund would reach its highest level to date, ensuring that the state is well prepared in the event of a future economic downturn.
“This supplemental budget, drawn from surplus state revenues, improves our Commonwealth’s fiscal health while also investing substantial resources in important priorities for our communities and the state,” said Senator Jason Lewis, Assistant Vice-Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “I’m proud to join my Senate colleagues in supporting this legislation, which is financially responsible and responsive to the needs and priorities of the people of Massachusetts.”
The Senate’s supplemental budget furthers the chamber’s commitment to ensuring all children have access to greater educational opportunities. Consistent with the Senate’s long-standing support of increased investments in education, the supplemental budget dedicates $50M to fund educational programming costs associated with the Student Opportunity Act, a school funding reform bill authored by Senator Lewis and the Joint Committee on Education which is in the final stages of the legislative process. In addition to increasing educational opportunities, the Senate’s budget ensures student safety and mental well-being through separate $10M investments in both school behavioral health services and enhanced public school safety and security measures, respectively. Additional education investments include:
- $30M for targeted assistance for school improvement
- $20M for the Endowment Incentives Program for public higher education institutions to provide an incentive for campuses to leverage private contributions
- $10M for campus safety and security infrastructure grants to institutions of higher education
- $2M for special education circuit breaker reimbursements
The Senate’s closeout budget makes a number of targeted investments to help communities update aging transportation and water infrastructure, and improve public health. The supplemental budget invests $60M in Chapter 90 funding to support improvements of local roads and bridges. It also provides $5M for a new pilot program to tackle increased traffic congestion, which is currently threatening quality of life and access to jobs. Additional investments to support our communities include:
- $50M for the MBTA capital acceleration program
- $35M for the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust to help finance improvements to local water systems
- $28.4M for targeted per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination remediation of public water supplies and ongoing monitoring
- $5M for culvert and dam repairs
- $5M for costs associated with mosquito spraying to reduce the risk of Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE)
- Authorizes $5M in grants for de-leading projects at early education facilities, childcare centers and elementary schools
The Senate’s budget addresses the pressing issue of climate change by investing $5M for a program to provide consumer rebates and other economic incentives to reduce carbon emissions. In addition, the proposal dedicates the use of $32M in Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) funds per fiscal year to promote the purchase and lease of electric vehicles, and to support the Green Communities program through December 31, 2021.
The supplemental budget reinforces the Senate’s belief that voting is key to a healthy democracy by authorizing an early voting period for the 2020 presidential primary, to begin on Monday, February 24, 2020 and end on Friday, February 28, 2020. It also funds $1.25M for early voting implementation.
The supplemental budget passed by the Senate commits $3M to bolster a network of community-based Family Resource Centers that offer a wide range of family, child, and community based services. It also provides an additional $3M for grants to support the agriculture, commercial fishing and cranberry growing industries, vital components of the Commonwealth’s economic fabric.
Recognizing the need to prioritize public safety and raise awareness about incidences of hate, the Senate’s closeout budget provides $1M for a statewide grant program to secure non-profit institutions at risk of terrorist attacks, and $400,000 for a new statewide grant program focused on the prevention of hate crimes in public schools.
The Senate’s Fiscal Year 2019 closeout supplemental budget will now be reconciled with the House’s version, which was passed last week.