Provides $15M for LIHEAP, $10M for the 21st Century Education Trust Fund, $2M for the Healthy Incentives Program, and $500K for Behavioral Health Public Awareness Campaign
BOSTON (2/28/20) – On February 28, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in passing a mid-year supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 2020 of $123 million in spending to address time sensitive deficiencies and unforeseen needs across the Commonwealth that require immediate attention.
As a reflection of the Senate’s ongoing commitment to support working families, ensure educational opportunities, and bring awareness to the availability of mental health resources, the supplemental budget passed by the Senate includes $15 million for the Low Income Heating Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), $10 million for the 21st Century Education Trust Fund, $2 million to support year-round funding of the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) and $500,000 for a behavioral health public awareness campaign.
“This budget demonstrates the Senate’s commitment to providing residents across the state with the resources they need to sustain their lives while maintaining fiscal responsibility,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “Most notably, this budget maintains critical heating assistance for low-income households, increases healthy food options, supports our students, and funds an important behavioral health awareness campaign to improve the well-being of residents across the Commonwealth.”
In response to a continued shortfall in federal fuel assistance, the supplemental budget provides an immediate state allocation of $15 million to the LIHEAP program. This additional support will help over 40,000 vulnerable low-income households–including low-income families with children, seniors and veterans–stay warm throughout the remainder of this winter.
Building off of the Senate’s longstanding commitment to ensuring quality public education for all, the supplemental budget provides $10 million for the 21st Century Education Trust Fund, which was created by the Student Opportunity Act, to provide districts and schools access to flexible funding to pursue creative approaches to student learning and district improvement.
Recently, the Department of Transitional Assistance announced that the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) would be suspended from February 23, 2020 until May 14, 2020 due to lack of funding resources. In response to the potentially negative impact this action would have on farmers who grow crops intended for purchase with HIP funding, as well as for the over 55,000 low-income families in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) who seek access to healthier local food options, this budget provides an infusion of $2 million to support HIP as a year-round program. This is in addition to the $6.5 million invested in HIP in the Fiscal Year 2020 budget.
Recognizing that removing the stigma of seeking mental health treatment has been a core priority of the Senate, the supplemental budget provides $500,000 from the Behavioral Health, Outreach, Access and Support Trust Fund for a behavioral health services public awareness campaign.
The supplemental budget builds on the Senate’s commitment to make targeted investments to improve and protect public health. To ensure enhanced quality of life and improved public health, the supplemental budget includes:
- $5.2M for targeted per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) testing and remediation;
- $5M for the recapitalization of the Get the Lead Out Program to support residential lead remediation;
- $2M for smoking prevention and cessation programs; and
- $1.9M for the State Laboratory, including supports for coronavirus testing and a EEE public awareness campaign
Other notable spending highlights of the mid-year FY 2020 supplemental budget include:
- $16.3M for collective bargaining contract costs;
- $15M for CPCS private counsel compensation;
- $12.3M for the Safety Net Provider Trust Fund;
- $10.4M for the Health and Human Services IT costs;
- $9.6M for TAFDC to support the removal of the family cap–a policy change that has allowed more than 13,000 new children to receive benefits;
- $5.4M for Section 35 civil commitments;
- $2.8M for Early Intervention Services;
- $2M for HomeBASE; and
- $1.8M for Emergency Assistance Family Shelters.
In addition, the supplemental budget includes a number of technical corrections to address the administration of various trust fund accounts, and includes updates to comply with federal law.
Having passed the Senate and House, the mid-year supplemental budget now moves to the Governor’s desk.