Thursday, October 29, 2015

Senate Sends $327 Million Budget Balancing Bill to Baker

Funds Approved for Public Safety, Public Health and State’s Financial Footing

Senators voted Wednesday to adopt a budget bill which will fund shortages in major state programs and services including initiatives for substance abuse prevention and treatment and services for children and families. Lawmakers also directed $233 million into the state’s so-called Rainy Day Fund and an account.
This bill wisely closes the books on the last fiscal year by bringing resources to bear on underfunded obligations such as those in public safety and confronting opiate addiction and, most importantly it, moves us in the right direction by putting surplus funds in the rainy day fund and using them to pay down existing debt.  Governor Baker began the 2015 fiscal year with a successful effort to close a $1.8 billion funding gap, and now we are continuing to strengthen the state’s financial position with strategic investments and captured savings.t designed to pay down state debt.
The bill, initially filed by Governor Baker in July, shores up deficiencies in the 2015 fiscal year budget, and funds expanded efforts to battle the state’s ongoing opioid epidemic. Provisions of the bill include $27.8 million for substance abuse treatment and prevention programs. This legislation contains $1.2 million for a Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral and Treatment for substance abuse program in schools, and $3.8 million for substance abuse counselors.
The supplemental budget ends the fiscal year in balance and ensures a stable fiscal position for fiscal year 2016. The $120 million deposit to the state’s Stabilization Fund, or “Rainy Day Fund,” boosts the balance to approximately $1.25 billion.
In addition, the bill also:
·         Deposits $120 million into the Rainy Day Fund,
·         Provides $113.2 million to pay off state debt,
·         Provides $250,000 for a municipal police grant program to purchase body cameras,
·         Provides $2.2 million to support training and staffing needs at the Department of Children and Families,
·         Provides $1 million for training for adoptive and foster families,
·         Provides $31.5 million for snow and ice removal costs for Mass Department of Transportation,
·         Provides $21.7 million to close deficiencies in ten Sheriff Departments,
·         Sets Thursday, September 8, 2016 as the date for the state’s primary election,
·         Provides $3 million to fund Department of Children and Families training services for foster families and adoptive families and congregate care and adoption support services,
·         Provides $5.8 million to support a new program at Taunton State Hospital for civilly committed women who would otherwise receive treatment at MCI-Framingham.
The bill now goes to the Governor for his signature.