Last week, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means (SWM) released its Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) Budget proposal. With a total investment of $41.42 billion, the proposal continues to support vital government services, invest in our state’s strengths and confront obstacles to continued growth. I was especially pleased to see the proposed budget include substantial investments in public education, transportation, mental health treatment, and working families:
- Public Education – Funds K-12 public education at its highest level ever ($4.92 billion), proposing an increase of at least $30 per pupil over FY19 for every school district across the state;
- Transportation – Makes record investments in our Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs), which provide public transportation services to communities across the state;
- Mental Health Treatment – Invests an additional $100 million over FY18 funding levels for adult mental health services to ensure more coordinated, standardized, and consistent treatment that is better aligned with our state’s health care systems;
- Working Families – Implements effective anti-poverty measures, including: (1) raising the Earned Income Tax Credit to provide additional funds to low-income working families when they file their future tax returns; and (2) “lifting the cap on kids,” which involves a change in the public assistance eligibility rules by removing a cruel restriction that bars families from receiving benefits for a child conceived while the family was receiving public assistance.
For a more comprehensive breakdown of the SWM’s entire budget proposal, please view Chairwoman Spilka’s executive summary.
As you may know, my colleagues and I will be debating this budget proposal on the Senate floor next week. While this proposal includes significant investments and important policy initiatives, I look forward to strengthening the final Senate Budget during the amendment process. To that end, I’ve filed 24 amendments on several topics, including increasing access to mental health and substance use treatment, protecting medically complex and fragile children in the Commonwealth, securing a prevailing wage for quasi-state agency employees, and investing in community organizations and local initiatives throughout the 4th Middlesex district. You can view a complete list of my budget amendments and others filed by members of the Senate on the Massachusetts Legislature website. To view the amendments I’m fighting for, insert “Friedman” into the “filter” search bar.
Be sure to check my Twitter feed and follow #SenBudget for live updates starting on Tuesday, May 22 at 11AM.
If you have any questions in the interim, please feel free to reach out to our office by phone at (617) 722-1432 or by email at Cindy.Friedman@masenate.gov.