May 12 2019

Sen. Friedman Highlights Benefits of Proposed $42.7 Billion State Budget


State Sen. Cindy Friedman has sent a release to constituents updating them on the proposed state budget now in the works.


“On May 7, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means announced a $42.7 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20),” a release from her office states. “The budget recommends targeted investments to provide access to opportunity and economic vitality across the Commonwealth, and includes several local earmarks and budget priorities secured by Senator Cindy F. Friedman.”


According to the release, the $42.7 billion in spending is a 3.1% increase over the Fiscal Year 2019 General Appropriations Act. This spending recommendation is based on a projected $770 million (2.7%) increase in tax revenue for FY20, as agreed upon during the consensus revenue process in January. The FY20 budget reduces reliance on the use of one-time revenue sources and directs $268 million to the Stabilization Fund to continue to build the Commonwealth’s financial safety net, the release explains.


“This budget reflects the values of the Commonwealth by continuing to make strong investments in education, healthcare cost and accessibility, and workforce development,” Sen. Friedman, who also serves as the Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, said. “I applaud Chairman Rodrigues and Senate President Spilka for both the content and the process utilized in producing this budget. I look forward to participating in healthy debate alongside my colleagues in the coming weeks.”


Friedman said that as part of the budget she was able to secure $85,000 to support Food Link MA to address food insecurity in Arlington, Billerica, Burlington, Lexington and Woburn


The release says that on matters of statewide interest, and in line with Friedman’s efforts to improve the state’s system of care for those with mental health needs, the senator secured the following investments:


- $250,000 for the second year of funding of a 4-year pilot program to establish a county restoration center overseen by the Middlesex County Restoration Center Commission to divert individuals with mental illness or substance use disorder away from law enforcement and into appropriate treatment;

- $350,000 to support the continued expansion of the Brookline Center for Community Mental Health’s Bridge for Resilient Youth in Transition (BRYT) programs, integrating mental health, academic, family, and care coordination supports to assist middle and high school students returning to school following extended physical health- or mental health-related absences;

- $500,000 for the Mental Health Advocacy Program for Kids (MHAP for Kids) to provide evidence-based community and school-based interventions to improve the mental health of vulnerable youth and divert them from juvenile detention, inpatient and emergency psychiatric hospitalizations; and

- $75,000 for Bridgewater State Hospital oversight by the Disability Law Center.


“In addition, the Senate Ways and Means FY20 budget strengthens Massachusetts’ commitment to being a national leader in ensuring children of all backgrounds have access to greater educational opportunities,” the release states. “Consistent with the Senate’s long-standing commitment to supporting increased investments in education, this budget makes a significant down payment on the work of the Foundation Budget Review Commission (FBRC), and funds Chapter 70 at its highest level ever; $5.176B, an increase of $268.4M over FY 2019. This education investment allows for a minimum aid increase of at least $30 per pupil over FY 2019 for every school district across the state, as well as 100% effort reduction to bring all school districts to their target local contribution.”


The proposed budget also increases investment in healthcare.


“The budget funds MassHealth at a total of $16.55 billion to maintain access to affordable health care coverage for over 1.8 million people, ensuring comprehensive care for our most vulnerable children, seniors and low income residents,” the release states. “In an effort to contain program costs and keep health care affordable and accessible to all, the budget takes many steps including providing MassHealth with additional tools to tackle the rapidly growing cost of pharmaceutical drugs by permitting the Secretary of Health and Human Services to directly negotiate for fair and additional rebates or cost effective payment arrangements with pharmaceutical manufacturers. The budget also explores new and creative cost savings initiatives for MassHealth to purchase prescription drugs and requires greater transparency from pharmacy benefit managers.”


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