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Town programs aided by fiscal '22 House budget

sgarballey 19 4519Garballey

Dave RogersRogers

Reps. Sean Garballey and Dave Rogers joined their State House colleagues to pass its fiscal 2022 budget, funded at $47.716 billion. Here are some Arlington programs that benefit:

The town received Chapter 70 funds totaling $14,741,108, and $8,338,017 in unrestricted general-government aid.

The Arlington House delegation secured several investments for local programs and services, which include $75,000 for the Arlington Historical Society, for maintenance, refurbishing and replacement of critical assets at the Jason Russell House and the Smith Museum; $100,000 for the Arlington playground initiative; $15,000 for the Arlington community orchard; $25,000 for the Children’s Room, and $50,000 for the Cyrus Dallin Art Museum.

Student Opportunity Act funding

The fiscal '22 House budget does not cut services, increase spending in many areas and is made possible because of better-than-expected revenue collections, increased federal reimbursement and by leveraging money from the state’s stabilization fund.

The budget does not appropriate anticipated American Rescue Plan funds. As the House Ways & Means and Federal Stimulus committees await the issuing of spending parameters by the federal government, they have begun a process to better understand the needs of Massachusetts communities and analyze past expenditures of federal funds, particularly those received from the CARES Act.

The fiscal '22 House budget reflects the local-aid commitment recently made by the House and Senate. It increases unrestricted general government aid by $39.5 million over the preceding year, for a total of $1.168 billion, and Chapter 70 education funding by $219.6 million over fiscal '21, for a total of $5.503 billion, fully funding the first year of a six-year implementation plan of the Student Opportunity Act. Enacted in 2019 to support equitable funding for our most vulnerable students, and also to increase K-12 education spending generally, the Legislature’s funding schedule ensures the act remains on track to be fully implemented over the course of seven years, an improvement over the governor’s budget proposal. 

The House budget also creates a $40 million enrollment reserve fund to help school districts whose fall enrollment is negatively impacted as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. To help students with the consequences of prolonged remote learning and address the full educational and social-emotional needs of students, the budget provides $15 million for summer education and supportive services. 

Added educational funds

Additional education funding allocations include: 

  • $367 million for Special Education Circuit Breaker; 
  • $154 million for Charter School Aid; 
  • $82 million for Regional Transportation; and 
  • $14 million for Homeless Student Transportation. 

Continuing the House’s commitment to high-quality early education and care, the fiscal '22 budget includes a $20 million investment in rate increases for child care providers across Massachusetts. 

Other early education and care funding initiatives include: 

  • $15 million for Head Start grants; 
  • $12 million for child care resource and referral agencies; 
  • $5 million for EEC higher education provider opportunities; and 
  • $2.5 million for early childhood mental health grants. 

Building on the House of Representatives priority to ensure Massachusetts residents from diverse backgrounds have access to meaningful educational opportunities, the House budget invests in higher education allocating $571 million for the University of Massachusetts system, $315 million for community colleges, and $291 million for state universities. The budget also includes a $10 million increase in scholarship funding over last fiscal year for a new total of $130 million and funds the community colleges SUCCESS Fund at $10.5 million and the STEM Starter Academy at $4.75 million. 

The budget includes large investments in labor and economic development, such as the creation of a trust fund dedicated to job training for the offshore wind industry to be administered by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. This budget makes an initial deposit into this fund of $10 million to establish and grow technical training programs in our public higher education system and vocational-technical institutions. The fund will also prioritize grants and scholarships to adult learning providers, labor organizations, and public educational institutions to provide workers with greater access to these trainings. 

Added investments

Additional investments include: 

  • $50 million for adult education; 
  • $24 million for Youthworks Summer Jobs; 
  • $5 million for Small Business Technical Assistance; 
  • $5 million for Community Action Agency Operating and Outreach Support; 
  • $5 million investment in Local Tourism Recovery Marketing;  
  • $2.5 million for Urban Agenda Grants; and 
  • $2 million investment in Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership. 

The Commonwealth’s commitment to MassHealth remains one of the largest drivers of the budget. In FY22 the House provides $18.969 billion to fully fund its caseload, which has increased as more residents became eligible during the pandemic. The House’s FY22 budget accurately reflects this enrollment growth, showing the necessary increase in spending beyond what was included in the Governor’s budget proposal, while also factoring in the increased Federal Medical Assistance Percentage reimbursement levels. 

Many of the House FY22 budget’s most significant increases represent essential services and programs that serve Massachusetts’ most vulnerable residents, including $771.1 million for the Department of Transitional Assistance to maintain support to families, at-risk parents, victims of intergenerational trauma, seniors, and persons with disabilities. Other notable health and human services investments include $30 million for Emergency Food Assistance, $13 million for Healthy Incentives Program, and $500,000 for a public awareness campaign on the contraceptive ACCESS Law. 

Housing, homelessness

The House’s FY22 budget also includes funding for housing and homelessness prevention, investing $22 million in direct appropriations for Residential Assistance for Families in Transition Program to promote housing stability and combat the threat of evictions. The budget also includes $148 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program and $84 million for public housing subsidies. 

Additional investments for individuals and youth include: 

  • $56.4 million for Homeless Individuals Shelters; 
  • $12.5 million for the Alternative Housing Voucher Program;  
  • $12 million for Rental Subsidies for eligible DMH Clients; and 
  • $8 million for Unaccompanied Homeless Youth. 

The budget funds the Department of Developmental Services at $2.29 billion, aimed to support individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. It includes $219.9 million for Day and Work programs; $84.9 million for Respite Family Supports; a $55.4 million increase for DDS’ Turning 22 class; a $7 million investment in transportation services; and $23.4 million for head injury treatment services. 

Reflecting the Legislature’s strong commitment to providing access to care and treatment for individuals with a substance use disorder, the budget allocates $160 million for the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services, including support for the MA-Access to Recovery program and targeted investments in five additional recovery centers. The budget also provides funding for low-threshold housing for people experiencing homelessness, mental health disorders and at risk for HIV; outpatient and mobile services for persons with disabilities; and treatment at correctional facilities. 

In an effort to ensure every resident has equal access to the criminal justice system, the House’s FY22 budget includes a $775 million investment in the Trial Court; $35 million for the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation; and increases for Prisoners’ Legal Services and Mental Health Legal Advisors. The budget also renews commitments made by the state’s criminal justice reform, such as $11.1 million for community-based re-entry programs, and $4 million in pre- and post-release services. 

The budget also continues the House’s focus on environmental and climate protection by including $312.6 million in funding for environmental services, which includes increases for state parks, environmental protection, and the endangered species programs. Additional investments include millions for hazardous waste site cleanups, river ways protection and access, and Clean Water Trust contract assistance.

The House budget makes the MEFA college savings tax deduction permanent, creates a commission to develop recommendations and best practices for responses to mental health emergencies, and creates a new program to approve rural growth funds that would invest in small businesses in rural communities. It also eliminates the sunset on the Film Tax Credit and increases the Conservation Land Tax Credit.

Legislators comment

In a May 13 news release, the legislators said, “This budget responsibly responds to the needs of residents and makes investments that set the state on a path toward economic recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic.” 

The House budget, passed April 29, “continues its strong commitment to cities and towns, and includes significant investments in education, supportive services for vulnerable populations, and workforce and economic development, among other priorities.” 

Garballey said in the release: “I am pleased to have directly worked on making sure this budget invests in supporting vulnerable populations and invests in education by fully funding the Student Opportunity Act. This budget also includes a $40-million enrollment reserve fund to help school districts whose fall enrollment is negatively impacted as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Rogers said in the release: “This last year has been a trying one for many individuals and families right here in Arlington, and all around the state. Despite these many challenges, I firmly believe better days are ahead, and the budget we just passed will help ensure that all our citizens have an opportunity to achieve their potential as we recover from this difficult time.”   

Speaker Ron Mariano and the House Ways & Means Committee introduced their FY22 budget on April 14, following a review of the governor’s proposal and a series of budget hearings. After three days of debate and more than 1,000 proposed amendments, the House passed the budget, 160-0. 

The state Senate is expected to debate its own spending proposal the week of May 24. See update at the Mass. Municipal Association >>

Aug. 3, 2020: Rogers, Garballey secure funding in multiple sectors for Arlington

This news announcement was published Monday, May 17, 2021.

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