Senator Eldridge Votes to Pass FY16 State Budget

State budget increases funding for education, the environment, housing, and expands the Earned Income Tax Credit for working families

BOSTON – State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) voted to pass the state budget on Wednesday, July 8th. The Massachusetts Legislature enacted a $38.145 billion state budget for Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16) which emphasizes increases to education and local aid, higher education, protecting the environment, stimulating economic growth, support for residents most in need, and reform of the state’s MBTA system. The spending plan also makes key investments in human services, behavioral health, and substance abuse support.

The FY16 budget also expands the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to 23% of the federal EITC, helping lift more working families out of poverty through the tax credit.

“This budget reflects the Commonwealth’s ability to work with cities and towns to ensure that Massachusetts continues to lift up families across the Commonwealth,” said Senator Eldridge. “The Senate’s shared values are represented in the final version of the budget by expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, providing additional assistance to homeless families, reforming the MBTA, and increasing the oversight of protective services towards children. I applaud Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairwoman Karen Spilka, Vice chairman Sal DiDomenico and the Senate Ways and Means Committee staff on their tireless effort to craft a budget that makes important investments on a wide range of important budget priorities.”

“This year’s budget features a long-overdue increase of the Earned Income Tax Credit, and I’m thrilled we have taken this substantial step towards addressing income inequality by helping working families in Massachusetts,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst).

“These budget line items are more than just numbers. They represent values, priorities and meaningful tools for people across the Commonwealth,” said Senate Committee on Ways and Means Chair Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “We invest in the future, strengthening pathways to educational opportunity from early education through college and workforce training. We provide assistance for those struggling with opioid addiction and help people find stable housing solutions.”

The budget makes key investments in a number of important areas to lift up all families, including:

Education:

•$568.4 million for accounts within the Department of Early Education and Care, an $18.1 million increase over the FY15 budget to give children a strong foundation for future learning and achievement.

•$31.2 million for the Adult Basic Education program to connect adults with skills they need to join the workforce, an $875,000 increase over FY15 budget.

•$4.51 billion for Chapter 70 education aid, a $111.2 million increase over the FY 2015 budget, including a minimum increase of $25 per pupil and 50% effort reduction to bring school districts closer to their target spending.

•$271.6 million to fully fund the Special Education Circuit Breaker (which provides 75% reimbursement to school districts), allowing school districts to provide high-quality educational opportunities for students of all abilities.

•$14.2 million for the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a $2 million increase over the FY15 budget, to support arts, culture and the creative economy in communities across the state and $6 million for Local Tourist Councils.

Housing:

•$90.9 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) to fund between 900 and 1050 new rental assistance vouchers, an increase of almost $35 million over the FY 15 budget, and $4.6 million for the Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP), the rental assistance program for people with disabilities.

•$2 million for housing and supportive services for unaccompanied homeless youth.

Substance Abuse:

•$3 million for over 250 new clinical stabilization beds, providing additional treatment options after detoxification.

•A new Municipal Naloxone Bulk Purchase Program to allow municipalities to purchase the lifesaving overdose reversal drug commonly referred to as Narcan at discounted rates.

•$12.7 million in a new line item for Adult Autism Services and $4.5 million for the children’s Autism Waiver, to help reduce the waitlist for these intensive services by 28 children.

•$1.3 million for assistive technologies for individuals with physical disabilities.

•$11.7 million for local Councils on Aging, increasing the formula grant for local senior centers across the Commonwealth to $9 per senior per year.

• Under Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC), the clothing allowance would increase from $150 to $200 per child.

•The state Earned Income Tax Credit match increases to 23% of the federal credit, beginning in tax year 2016. The maximum credit available for working families will increase from $951 to $1459. To pay for the increased EITC for working families, the budget repeals the FAS 109 deduction, a tax benefit for large publicly traded companies.

•150,000 for a competitive grant program in public schools from grade 5 to grade 12 that will promote healthy relationships and address teen dating violence.

Environment:

•$803,000for Department of Conservation and Recreation Stormwater Management, which was doubled from the FY15 budget.

•$29.5million for the Department Environmental Protection (DEP), a $500K increase from FY15.

•$59,000 for the Division of Ecological Restoration, a $30,000 increase from the FY15 budget.

•$14 million for Hazardous Waste Site Cleanup, a $46,000 increase from the FY15 budget.

Local funding:

•$275,000 for Regional Bonus Aid.

•$2.2 million for Prison Mitigation Funding for municipalities that host prisons.

•$59 million for Regional School Transportation.

The budget is sent to the Governor to be reviewed over the next ten days.

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