From the office of State Senator Julian Cyr:
(Boston, Mass.) – The Massachusetts Legislature passed a $42 billion FY19 State Budget yesterday when the State Senate adopted the conference budget (H.4800) on a 36 to 1 vote. The FY19 budget is fiscally responsible, based on realistic revenue that did not involve painful cuts to programs nor raised taxes. Revenue and investments will go to agencies, residents and municipalities across the Commonwealth. Additionally, the FY19 budget deposit of approximately $350 million to the state’s rainy day fund will increase the state’s reserves to approximately $2 billion.
The budget includes historic investments prioritized by the Senate for K-12 education, including $4.9 billion in Chapter 70 funding, a 3.4% increase over the prior fiscal year. The FY19 budget also invests in schools in the Cape and Islands region, by including a fully funded 75% reimbursement to schools through the special education circuit breaker. The state budget provides $68 million for regional school transportation, which represents an 80% reimbursement level for regional school district transportation costs. Additionally, the FY19 budget invests $88 million for regional transit authorities, $141 million for substance misuse treatment and prevention, and allocates resources for line items traditionally funded at deficient levels, for example, snow and ice removal.
Budget amendments offered by State Senator Julian Cyr (D-Truro) that address the opioid epidemic, offer tax relief to small and seasonal business owners, fund firefighter training, child advocacy programs and other public safety programs are included in the Massachusetts Legislature’s final FY2019 budget.
“I spent the last year-and-a-half listening to my constituents in our geographically large and economically diverse district to see how to best advocate for them in the budget,” said State Senator Cyr (D-Truro). “These amendments reflect the importance of sustaining the fight against the opioid crisis; offering tax relief and training for small and seasonal businesses; protecting our environment and looking out for the most vulnerable in our community. I am proud of the successes we’ve had, and at the same time I know that there is much more to do.”
Especially significant is passage of Cyr’s amendment to create an ‘Employer Medical Assistance Contribution Hardship Exemption’. This requires that the Department of Unemployment Assistance establish, for certain Massachusetts employers, including seasonal employers, small businesses, and employers providing services that serve the public interest, an exemption hardship waiver to Employer Medical Assistance Contribution (EMAC) health contribution assessment first established in the FY18 budget.
Here is a comprehensive list of the budget amendments secured by Senator Cyr that are in the final FY2019 budget. There are $640,000 in earmarks and $8.6 million in funding for statewide programs secured by Senator Cyr. Amendments can be viewed online here.
The Opioid Crisis and Public Safety
Anti-Addiction Programs in Schools: Funds $50,000 for Calmer Choice, an innovative Cape-based non-profit, to offer substance abuse prevention programs in school districts on Cape Cod. (Senate Budget amendment #258)
Dukes County Substance Abuse Program: Funds $25,000 in the bureau of substance addiction services line item for the Dukes County substance misuse and detox program, which is run by Martha’s Vineyard Community Services (MVCS). Currently, there are no medically assisted treatment programs on the island. (Senate Budget Amendment #518)
Shelter for the Chronically Homeless & ‘Plymouth County Outreach’ Study: Funds the following for the Barnstable Police Department & Barnstable County Department of Human Services (Senate Budget Amendment #544):
Narcan Bulk Purchase for Cape Cod: Funds $20,000 for Barnstable County to fund a bulk purchase of naloxone/Narcan, for distribution to public safety agencies and non-profits on Cape Cod. (Senate Budget Amendment #546)
Children's Advocacy Centers: Requires level funding for all Children's Advocacy Centers that were funded through earmarks in FY18. These include: Children's Cove of Barnstable County (at $140,000); Children's Advocacy Center of Worcester County; Children's Advocacy Center of Bristol County; Plymouth County Children's Advocacy Center; and Children's Advocacy Center of Suffolk County, Inc. (Senate Budget Amendment #573)
Barnstable County Fire and Rescue Training Academy: Funds $100,000 for the Barnstable County Fire and Rescue Training Academy. It is the only training academy available to firemen on the Cape and Islands and is essential to providing continuing education for fire departments, as well as training new firemen. (Senate Budget Amendment #1091)
Sheriff Funding Commission: Amends outside section 47 to include in the Sheriff Funding Commission's study a review of the physical assets owned by each sheriff’s department and an analysis of funding deficiencies and lack of programmatic offering by the Commonwealth to geographically isolated sheriff’s departments, most notably on Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. (Senate Budget Amendment #1116)
Housing Assistance: Funds $65,000 for Housing Assistance Corporation of Cape Cod. HAC provides emergency shelter, homelessness prevention assistance, and employment services to individuals and families to enable family self-sufficiency. (Senate Budget Amendment #766)
Tenancy Preservation Program (TPP): This amendment would increase funding to $1.3M to serve new areas covered by the Housing Court. TPP prevents very vulnerable tenants with disabilities from becoming homeless and is based only in Housing Court. Senator Cyr fought to expand the Housing Court to Barnstable County during last year’s budget debate. (Senate Budget Amendment #791)
Employer Medical Assistance Contribution Hardship Exemption: Amendment would require the Department of Unemployment Assistance to establish, for certain Massachusetts employers, including seasonal employers, small businesses, and employers providing services that serve the public interest, an exemption hardship waiver to Employer Medical Assistance Contribution (EMAC) health contribution assessment established in the FY18 budget. (Senate Budget Amendment #589)
Promoting Employee Ownership: Funds $50,000 for the Massachusetts Office of Employee Involvement and Ownership (MASSEIO). MASSEIO operations were suspended in 2008 due to the fiscal crisis confronting our nation and state government, and the functions of the office are in the process of being re-started. This funding would allow MASSEIO to resume providing education, outreach and promotional efforts to create an environment in the Commonwealth which will expand and enhance employee involvement and ownership. (Senate Budget Amendment #790)
Small Business Technical Assistance: The final amount of funding in the compromise budget is at $2 million to support technical assistance and training programs to Massachusetts businesses with 20 or fewer employees. These grants strengthen locally-owned businesses while stimulating local economic development, supporting commercial & mixed-use development, and helping to sustain vibrant local business districts. The Community Development Partnership and Coastal Community Capital receive resources from this program. (Senate Budget Amendment #796)
Tourism Promotion and Marketing: Adds language that would require that funds from the Tourism Trust Fund be released no later than September 1st of the Fiscal Year. This is a priority of the Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Chambers of Commerce. (Senate Budget Amendment #805)
Health and Education
Access to Health and Human Services on Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket: Funds $50,000 for the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) to continue providing services on Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. (Senate Budget Amendment #522)
Youth at Risk: Provides funding for Youth at Risk competitive grant programs, with $900,000 specifically for evidence-based programs, including programs that serve lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth. (Senate Budget Amendment #575)
Local Food Access and Affordability: Funds $35,000 to Truro-based non-profit Sustainable Cape to expand local food access & affordability. Sustainable Cape would expand a coalition of farmers markets throughout Barnstable and Dukes counties to promote SNAP, WIC, Senior and Veteran benefits at Farmers Markets as well as the creation of site-specific programs targeted to schools, libraries and community centers. (Senate Budget Amendment #527)
Beach Conservation: Funds $70,000 for the implementation of the statewide habitat conservation plan to increase shorebird conservation and recreational opportunities. (Senate Budget Amendment #938)
Nantucket Coastal Study: Funds $20,000 for the Division of Marine Fisheries to study the impacts of the trawl fishery targeting longfin squid in waters under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth with particular focus on the division’s and federal sea sampling data collection programs concerning catch and by-catch. (Senate Budget Amendment #941)
Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station Decommissioning (filed by Senators deMacedo and Cyr in partnership): Funds $100,000 for an interagency working group to monitor the pre and post shutdown decommissioning process at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station. The working group leads and coordinates state agency involvement in any matters pertaining to the plant’s decommissioning including: radiological and environmental standards, emergency preparedness and funding, and site restoration. (Senate Budget Amendment #374)