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The 191st General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

FY 2021 Budget Senate Ways & Means Budget

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The Senate Committee on Ways and Means examines both the Governor's proposal and the House proposal and releases its own recommendations for the annual budget for deliberation by the Senate.

Photo of  Brian S. Dempsey
Senate Ways and Means Chair

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Welcome to the Massachusetts Senate Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Web Site. On this site, you will find information and documents related to the Senate Ways and Means 2021 Budget and full text of all Amendments offered by Senators to the Fiscal Year 2021 budget, and the action taken by the Senate on those amendments.

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Senate Committee on Ways and Means
Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Recommendations


Seal of the Commonwealth

Executive Summary

Since Governor Baker declared a state of emergency on March 10, 2020 in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, our children, our families, our most vulnerable residents, our front line health care workers, our small businesses and so many others have been under constant pressure. With anxiety and economic hardships faced by many, we recognize the urgency that is required in our collective fight against this virus and we are resolved to get through this difficult time in hopes of getting our Commonwealth back on the road to normal once again.
Because of our resolve and our Commonwealth’s stable economic foundation, we are in a position to respond and act in a thoughtful and responsible way. As such, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means Fiscal Year 2021 budget recommendations provides fiscal stability and meaningfully invests in our shared priorities to protect access to educational opportunities and critically needed mental health care services, strengthen public health infrastructure, provide safe and secure housing, and support an equitable economic recovery effort.
With this fiscally responsible budget, we keep our word to our cities and towns and protect essential core services that benefit our most vulnerable residents, our communities, and our Commonwealth as we continue our collective fight to defeat the COVID-19 virus.

The Committee’s budget spends responsibly and maximizes state and federal revenue opportunities, recommending a total of $45.985B in spending, a $2.414B increase over the Fiscal Year 2020 General Appropriations Act. This spending recommendation is based on the revised tax revenue estimate of $27.592 billion for FY 2021, providing $3.558 billion (-11.4%) less in available revenue than the original consensus revenue estimate of $31.151 billion, as previously agreed upon during the Consensus Revenue process in January.

This responsible budget plan ensures fiscal stability and makes a number of key investments in response to urgent needs created by the COVID-19. Because of our partnership with the Administration and the House, we successfully strengthened our Stabilization Fund, bringing its balance to $3.5 billion, and positioned ourselves in FY 2021 to use this critical reserve to close an anticipated tax revenue shortfall in a responsible and judicious manner.

 

Education

Ensuring equitable access to a high quality education is more critical than ever before as we navigate this pandemic. Unwavering in our commitment to this purpose, the Committee’s budget once again re-affirms our support for children of all backgrounds and increased access to educational opportunities during this challenging time.

Early Education and Care

The Commonwealth has a strong system of care for infants, toddlers, preschoolers and their families; and during this unprecedented public health crisis, ensuring the sustainability of early education and care providers, while supporting families is an urgent priority. The Committee’s budget seeks to maintain the growth and development of all children during this pandemic, while investing $820 million to stabilize our early educator workforce, address the increased operational costs faced by providers, and protect access to high quality early childhood opportunities for low-income families.

  • $286.7M for Income-Eligible Childcare and $350.9M for Supportive and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Childcare, providing critical childcare services for low-income families.
  • $40M for a new reserve to cover parent fees for families receiving subsidized childcare for the remainder of FY 2021.
  • $25M for a new Early Education and Care Workforce and COVID-19 Supports Reserve to provide classroom stabilization grants, incentive pay for providers, and support for increased operational costs due to COVID-19.
  • $16.4M for the Healthy Families program, administered by the Children’s Trust Fund, to provide family support and coaching for young, first-time parents.
  • $15M for grants to Head Start programs to maintain access to early education services for low-income families.
  • $10.1M for Childcare Resource and Referral Centers to assist parents, childcare providers, employers and community groups in navigate the state’s early education and care landscape.
  • $5M for the Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative to expand access to preschool in underserved areas.
  • $2.5M for early childhood mental health consultation services.

Elementary and Secondary Education

This budget makes critical investments in elementary and secondary education. It protects funding for school districts across the state, while ensuring that high quality education for all students can be provided safely and effectively.

Chapter 70. The Committee’s budget funds Chapter 70 at its highest level ever at $5.284B, an increase of $107.6M over FY 2020. This investment builds upon FY 2020’s groundbreaking funding level and ensures school districts across the state are kept at foundation by accounting for changes to enrollment and inflation.

Implementation of the Student Opportunity Act. The Senate remains committed to fully implementing the Student Opportunity Act (SOA) and ensuring that school districts across the Commonwealth have adequate and equitable resources to provide all students with a high-quality education. However, the pandemic has disrupted our plans for FY 2021 as we manage our way through simultaneous economic and public health crises. With this budget, the Senate reaffirms support for investments that expand and protect access to educational opportunities, while remaining faithfully committed to ensuring the full implementation of the SOA, regardless of our current fiscal challenges.

School District Reimbursements. The Committee’s budget includes $345.2M for the Special Education Circuit Breaker, reimbursing school districts for the high cost of educating students with disabilities at the statutorily required 75% reimbursement rate. This budget also includes $115M to reimburse school districts for costs incurred when students leave to attend charter schools, and $82.2M for regional school transportation, an increase of $6.5M over FY 2020, representing an 85% reimbursement rate.

  • $345.2M for the Special Education Circuit Breaker
  • $115M for Charter School Reimbursements
  • $82.2M for Regional School Transportation
  • $40.6M for Adult Basic Education
  • $25.6M for the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO) program
  • $1.5M for Rural School Aid
  • $1.5M for the Civics Education Trust Fund

 

Higher Education

Our public institutions of higher education have always been a strong pillar of the Commonwealth’s economic foundation, yet this cornerstone of the state’s economy has been destabilized by the disruptive nature of COVID-19. As our diverse public higher education campuses adjust to new teaching formats, restricted campus life, and increased financial strains associated with this pandemic, this budget provides $1.3B in investments to maintain support for our state colleges and universities and protect access to a quality, affordable public higher education for all.

  • $560.4M for the University of Massachusetts, our world-class public research university system.
  • $308M for the fifteen community colleges.
  • $285.5M for the nine state universities.
  • $7.3M for fee waivers and $1.5M for financial aid to expand access to higher education opportunities for young people involved with the foster care system.
  • $2M for grants offered through the Massachusetts Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative to support high school students with intellectual disabilities ages 18–22 with access to higher education opportunities.

 

Local and Regional Aid

From the Berkshires to Cape Cod, and the North Shore to the South Shore, our regions consist of 351 unique cities and towns, all distinctly sewn into the fabric of our Commonwealth. This budget keeps our commitments to supporting cities and towns by directing a considerable amount of resources to local and regional aid to ensure our diverse communities are able to maintain core public services in the middle of this pandemic.

Regional Transit Authorities. Public transportation is a critically important essential service we must protect during this public health emergency. To that end,the Committee’s budget increases funding for Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) to $94M, while encouraging RTAs to pursue best practices that ensure that commuters, students, seniors and people with disabilities will be able to count on this essential public service during this time of need.

PILOT. In addition to traditional local aid, the Committee’s budget level funds payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) for state-owned land to $30M. PILOT funding has always been a vital source of local aid that provides cities and towns with additional resources to support core public services.

  • $1.129B for unrestricted general government aid to support community investments in education, health care, public safety and roads and bridges
  • $32.6M for the Board of Library Commissioners, $11.5M for regional library local aid, $12M for municipal libraries and $4.4M for technology and automated resources
  • $18.2M for the Massachusetts Cultural Council to support local arts, culture and creative economy initiatives
  • $17M for local Councils on Aging to strengthen programs and services in senior centers in communities across the state.

 

Health & Human Services

Keeping health care accessible and affordable for our residents has never been more critical than right now. This budget increases resources to protect critical safety net programs services to our most vulnerable residents and makes targeted investments to ensure the health and well-being of individuals and families remains our number one priority as we continue to respond to COVID-19.

MassHealth

The Committee’s budget funds MassHealth at a total of $18.577 B to protect access to health care coverage for over 1.9 million people, ensuring comprehensive care for our most vulnerable children, seniors and low income residents is maintained in the middle of a global pandemic.

  • $395M for MassHealth Nursing Home Supplemental Rates to continue our support of high public-payer nursing facilities.
  • $300M in provider stabilization to support nursing homes, hospitals, community health centers, behavioral health providers, and community long-term services and supports providers during the pandemic.
  • $268M for the Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative, supporting a community-based system of care, guaranteeing that children with MassHealth coverage receive the behavioral health services they need for success at home, in school and throughout life.
  • $62M for rate restructuring that stabilizes the nursing facility industry and rewards high quality and efficient delivery of care.
  • $13M for High Public Payer Hospitals and $3M in supplemental rate payments to support MassHealth children in pediatric chronic and rehabilitation long-term care hospitals and acute care pediatric hospitals and pediatric specialty units

Mental Health

Expanding access to mental health services and removing the stigma of mental illness has always been a core priority that the Senate has championed. The Committee’s budget invests over $900M in mental health services and prevention programs, with a focus on ensuring continued access to comprehensive services and supports for adults and children.

  • $500.3M for Adult Support Services, including assisted outpatient programming and comprehensive care coordination among health care providers
  • $94.5M for children’s mental health services, including $3.9M for the Massachusetts Child Psychiatric Access Program (MCPAP) and $675K for MCPAP for Moms to address mental health needs of pregnant and postpartum women
  • $10M to recapitalize the Behavioral Health, Access, Outreach and Support Trust Fund to support targeted behavioral health initiatives, and the budget also spends $5.6M in existing dollars from the fund to support student access to telebehavioral health, a mental health workforce pipeline pilot program, and a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner fellowship pilot program
  • $10M for a new inpatient mental health acute care beds grant program to increase access to critical mental health services
  • $10M for housing vouchers for DMH clients to transition into housing and community-based services
  • $11M for the Forensic Services Program, which funds mental health assessments and consultations in juvenile court clinics
  • $7M to expand jail diversion initiatives to divert individuals with mental illness and substance use disorders from the criminal justice system and connect them with appropriate treatment

Public Health

During the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring all residents have access to high-quality public health services is a vital part of our state response efforts to defeat the virus and building a pathway to the Commonwealth’s recovery. The Committee’s budget invests $735M in programs and services that strengthen public health resources and infrastructure in communities across the state, with a focus on vulnerable populations.

  • $45.2M for domestic violence prevention services
  • $45.8M for HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention
  • $35.4M for early intervention services, to ensure supports are accessible and available to infants and young toddlers with developmental delays and disabilities
  • $10M for grants to support local boards of health to combat COVID-19
  • $10M for the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative and $2M for youth violence prevention grants
  • $13.7M for family health services, including sexual and reproductive health counseling, education and clinical services for low income adolescents and adults
  • $6.1M for the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) and pediatric SANE programs, including $900K for Children’s Advocacy Centers, providing safe and integrated services to protect children from abuse
  • $6.5M to eliminate the waitlist for pediatric palliative care services for terminally ill children and their families
  • $7.1M for suicide prevention and intervention, including $400K for Samaritans Inc. and $200K for the Call2Talk suicide prevention hotline
  • $2.7M for the Childhood Lead Poisoning and Prevention Trust Fund
  • $1.7M for the State Action for Public Health Excellence (SAPHE) Program to support a more effective local and regional public health delivery system
  • $1M for a COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan program, focused on equitable vaccine distribution
  • $500K for the STOP Stroke Program

Substance Use Disorder Treatment

While the Commonwealth faces the many challenges of a historic public health crisis, there are still those who are struggling with addiction. This disease is prevalent in every corner of our state, impacting residents without prejudice or discrimination. As such, the Committee’s budget ensures accessibility to a complete continuum of care that is critically important to families and their loved ones in dire need of support.

  • $163.6M for a range of substance abuse treatment and intervention services
  • $3M for investments in the substance use disorder workforce, including training on medication management, medication-assisted treatment and treatment of co-occurring disorders
  • $2.5M for provider adaptations to ensure adequate and accessible services during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • $2M for case management and residential rehabilitation services to help individuals transition between levels of treatment and find support through each step of recovery
  • $100K to improve early intervention programming and care for newborns diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome

People with Disabilities

This budget protects access to opportunities for people of varying abilities, investing over $2.232B in a range programs that assist individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who meaningfully contribute to the health and well-being of our Commonwealth.

  • $239.5M for the DDS Community Day and Work program providing employment support, education and training
  • $25.1M to fully fund Turning 22 services to help young people with disabilities transition to adulthood
  • $38.6M for specialized services for adults with autism
  • $7.1M for the 11 independent living centers across the state providing networks of support to help individuals of all abilities access opportunities and build community
  • $25.9M for the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind services
  • $6.9M for the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
  • $20.7M for head injury treatment services

 Elder Affairs

As Seniors are among the most vulnerable populations to the ongoing public health crisis, it is vital to promote the continued health and well-being of this community. The Committee’s budget invests in programs that ensure continued access to services and resources for our elderly population during this challenging time.

  • $247.6M in total for the Elder Home Care program, providing critical health and social services to help seniors remain in their homes
  • $800K for Geriatric Mental Health Services, supporting behavioral health outreach teams who provide mental health services within our communities
  • $36.3M for the Protective Services Program to prevent elder abuse and neglect.
  • $17M for grants to local Councils on Aging to strengthen programs and services in senior centers within our local communities and across the state
  • $10.4M for Meals on Wheels and other nutrition programs for seniors.

$9.6M in housing related programs for older adults receiving benefits through the Elder Homeless Placement, Congregate Housing and Supportive Housing programs including an additional $856K for Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities, offering local services to communities with a high percentage of older adults

Veterans

While we remain committed to protect our most vulnerable communities from the pandemic, the Committee’s budget focuses attention as well on the men and women who fought to protect our freedom. Reflecting the Commonwealth’s reputation as a leader in providing benefits and assistance to our veterans and their loved ones, this budget includes key investments in best-in-the-nation benefits programs for those who have served our country with honor and distinction.

  • $72.1M for veterans’ benefits provided by municipalities, including cash, fuel and rent assistance, employment training and placement and health benefits
  • $25.1M for the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home
  • $6.7M for Veterans Outreach Centers providing peer counseling, employment skills building and job search assistance, substance abuse counseling and other services
  • $2M for veterans’ mental and behavioral health services through the Home Base program
  • $116K for outreach and services targeted to women veterans

Support for Children and Working Families

Recognizing that the road to an equitable economic recovery begins in the home; the Committee’s budget prioritizes children and working families, while supporting vulnerable populations struggling with food insecurity. Investing in programs to support children, increasing economic opportunities for working families, and ensuring access to healthy food are among the most direct ways in which the state’s budget can impact day to day life in the Commonwealth.

Food Insecurity. Food insecurity has become one of the most rampant side effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, impacting children, adults and seniors alike. The Committee’s budget prioritizes access to food resources across the Commonwealth, investing $30M in emergency food assistance programs and $13M in the Healthy Incentives Programs to ensure our most vulnerable households have continued access to food options in the midst of this unprecedented public health crisis.

The Committee’s budget demonstrates the importance of supporting children and families across the continuum of state services.

  • $265.3M for DCF Social Workers, supporting the Department’s ongoing efforts to reduce caseloads for social workers
  • $67.1M for family support and stabilization services
  • $30M for Emergency Food Assistance to ensure that citizens in need have access to a supply of quality food
  • $17.5M for Family Resource Centers to expand to new communities and meet increased demand for services from families displaced by last fall’s hurricanes
  • $16.4M for the DTA Employment Services Program to help low income people move toward economic independence, including $1.3M for programs operated by the Office of Refugees and Immigrants and $200K for the DTA Works Internship Program
  • $8M for DCF Lead Agencies to connect children with community-based services
  • $13M for the Healthy Incentives Program, maintaining access to healthy foods for 60,000 SNAP recipients and supporting local farmers
  • $5M for Community Foundations to provide emergency economic relief to historically underserved populations across the Commonwealth
  • $3M for the Secure Jobs Connect program, providing job placement resources and assistance for homeless individuals
  • $1.2M for Project Bread to support the Child Nutrition Outreach Program (CNOP) and the FoodSource Hotline
  • $500K in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Employment and Training Transportation program, providing $80 per month to cover transportation costs of SNAP clients participating in job training programs
  • $2.8M for the Office of the Child Advocate, including $300K for a new pilot program to offer housing supports to individuals as they transition out of the care and custody of the Department of Children and Families or the Department of Youth Services
  • $750K for the Foster Care Parents Campaign to recruit and support foster families

 

Housing

Affordable housing, which has been exacerbated by COVID-19 in Massachusetts, is another key building block of our recovery. Access to housing is, for many, the same as access to economic security and stability, while also being intrinsically linked to public health. The Committee’s budget maintains the Senate’s commitment to increasing access to quality, affordable housing, investing over $540M in housing and homelessness services and supports to maintain stability and keep people in their homes during this time of crisis.

  • $179.9M for Emergency Assistance Family Shelters
  • $135M for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP)
  • $75M for assistance to local housing authorities
  • $50M for Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT), including emergency changes to the RAFT program to increase the maximum amount of rental assistance that a household can receive from $4,000 to $10,000 and allow eligible households facing a housing crisis to access both RAFT and HomeBASE.
  • $53.4M for assistance for homeless individuals
  • $27.2M for the HomeBASE diversion and rapid re-housing programs
  • $12.5M  for the Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP) providing rental assistance to people with disabilities and $2.5M for grants to improve or create accessible affordable housing units
  • $4.75M for the Housing Consumer Education Centers (HCECs)
  • $3.9M for the Home and Healthy for Good re-housing and supportive services program, including $250K for homeless LGBTQQ youth
  • $2.5M for the Office of Public Collaboration to support housing dispute mediation efforts across the Commonwealth
  • $1.3M for the Tenancy Preservation Program 

Eviction Prevention.

COVID-19 Emergency Changes to the RAFT Program.

  • Increases the maximum amount of rental assistance that a household can receive from $4,000 to $10,000
  • Allows eligible households facing a housing crisis to access both RAFT and HomeBASE.

Eviction Diversion Initiative Data Collection.

  • Requires the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, in collaboration with the Trial Court, to collect, compile, and report data on residential evictions and the Governor's Eviction Diversion Initiative.
  • This proposal would track the ongoing sufficiency and effectiveness of state resources devoted to preventing evictions during the COVID-19 emergency.

      COVID-19 Emergency Eviction Continuances.

  • Requires a court having jurisdiction over an action for summary process, during the COVID-19 emergency, to grant a continuance in a residential eviction case for non-payment of rent if the tenant has suffered a financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 emergency and has demonstrated a pending application for short-term emergency rental assistance.

      COVID-19 Emergency Notices to Quit.

  • Requires a landlord, during the COVID-19 emergency, to include with a notice to quit for non-payment of rent a form containing information pertaining to the tenant's unpaid rent, existing legal restrictions on residential evictions, and available rental assistance programs and requires a landlord to send the notice to quit to the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development.
  • This proposal ensures that tenants are well-informed of their legal rights at the earliest stage of the eviction process and provides important information on rental assistance programs that may help them avoid eviction.

  • This proposal also enables the Commonwealth to track notices to quit when sent to tenants, rather than at the point a case is filed in court.

 

Economic Development and Workforce Training

Perhaps the largest impact of the pandemic was the effect it has had on workers in the Commonwealth. Despite those historic setbacks and disruptions to workers’ lives, we remain committed to educating, training, and providing Massachusetts’ workforce with opportunities to grow and succeed. To build on our commitment to restoring our workforce, the Committee’s budget makes targeted investments in workforce training initiatives to maintain our long-term economic competitiveness.

  • $40.6M for adult basic education services to improve access to skills and tools necessary to join the workforce
  • $20M for summer jobs and work-readiness training for at-risk youth
  • $10M for the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund to connect unemployed and under-employed workers with higher paying jobs
  • $6M for Regional Economic Development Organizations to support economic growth in all regions of the state
  • $4M for Small Business Technical Assistance grants
  • $2.5M for the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative Innovation Institute
  • $2.5M for the Precision Manufacturing Program
  • $2M for the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership
  • $950K for the Massachusetts Cybersecurity Innovation Fund

 

Environment

In Massachusetts, people have a right to clean air and water and we have a duty to help prepare our communities for the impacts of climate change. After years of relentless attacks on these common-sense ideas; preserving the environment, protecting public lands, and conserving our natural resources have only become more important in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Committee’s budget ensures these truths remain in the Commonwealth and invests $299.4M to enhance our state’s environmental resources.

  • $99.2M for the Department of Conservation and Recreation to support the Commonwealth’s state parks system
  • $62.4M for the Department of Environmental Protection, including additional funding for a PFAS-specific team to remediate water contamination in the Commonwealth
  • $20.8M for the Department of Public Utilities to ensure proper pipeline and utility safety.
  • $39.4M for the Department of Agricultural Resources, including $1.4M for mosquito spraying to mitigate the risk of the Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus.
  • $2.2M for climate change adaptation and preparedness programs to enhance resilience and to address the mounting threat of climate change
  • $2.6M for the Division of Ecological Restoration to protect the Commonwealth’s rivers, wetlands and watersheds

 

Judiciary – Racial Justice and Reinvestment

Judiciary

This year has brought an intense focus on the justice system nationwide. The Committee’s budget recognizes that ensuring equal justice for everyone in the Commonwealth is of unassailable importance by aiming to provide support for policies that ensure fair treatment for all people.

  • $761.6M for the Trial Court system, including $1.1M for an Alternative Dispute Resolution program, $11.8M for the Housing Court to serve all residents of the Commonwealth and funding for other critical access to justice initiatives
  • $256.2M for the Committee for Public Counsel Services
  • $164.5M for the Office of Probation,
  • $29M for the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation
  • $2.2M for Prisoners’ Legal Services
  • $2.1M for the Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee

 Justice Reinvestment and Recidivism Reduction

Our public health has never been more important, and ensuring the availability of appropriate treatments for inmates in prisons, jails, and houses of correction is vital to promoting public health, while increasing efforts to support communities disproportionately impacted by the criminal justice system. Likewise, supporting an individual’s ability to successfully reintegrate into society and reducing recidivism contributes to public safety while helping to create a more humane criminal justice system. The Committee’s budget recognizes this by investing over $57M in programs across the Judiciary and Public Safety agencies.