Archive for the ‘FY 09 Budget’ Category

Good News for Arlington

August 4, 2008

On July 31 both the House and the Senate passed the School Safety Zone Projects for Arlington ($100,000) and fully funded the Transportation Development Grant for Arlington ($100,000). These votes were necessary to override the Governor’s veto and to restore needed funding for important local projects. I want to thank my colleagues in the House and Senate for their support.


Conference Report – Education

July 9, 2008

Provided by the Conference Committee on Education


FY09 Conference Report – Education


In adopting the FY09 Conference Report, the Massachusetts Legislature has continued to demonstrate its commitment to ensuring the Commonwealth’s pre-kindergarten through grade 12 students receive an education of the highest quality.  From early education and care, to elementary school professional development, to college readiness, the budget sent to the Governor’s desk represents a well rounded approach to moving all students towards proficiency. 


The following are some of the education highlights from the FY09 Conference Committee budget.






The FY09 Conference Report reflects the amount agreed upon in the local aid resolution adopted on March 12th.  This resolution was adopted in order to assist cities, towns and regional school districts in their budget planning process. It includes an additional $223 million for Chapter 70 funding, providing a total of $3.9 Billion.  The language reflects our continued commitment to address long-standing concerns over the equity of the formula by phasing in the 3rd year of an anticipated 5 year process.



For the first time in any recent history, we now have an Executive Office of Education.  This important office, through the Secretary of Education, will provide the necessary coordination and alignment of our three education silos.  The Legislature has provided $947,000 for this office as it begins its first year of operation. 



The Conference Report demonstrates a committed effort to continuing to build the capacity of the state Department of Elementary & Secondary Education.  The line received a significant increase over FY08 funding levels and the Legislature has also committed $100,000 for the Student Advisory Council which is comprised of 2 student representatives from each high school in the Commonwealth.


METCO (7010-0012)

For the fifth year in a row, the Conference Committee budget increases the appropriation for the METCO program. The program’s line is increased by $1,000,000 increasing funding to $21.6 million. This program provides quality integrated educational opportunities for students in the urban areas.






SCHOOL-TO-WORK (7027-0016)

The Conference Report increases funding for school-to-work programs by $320,000 over last year’s funding level, providing a total of $3.12 million. This amount includes a $245,000 earmark for Junior Achievement, a provider of programs in K-12 classrooms in the subject areas of entrepreneurship, workforce readiness, and economic and financial literacy.



The Conference Report recognizes the importance of continuing with the Commonwealth’s commitment to the full-day kindergarten system by providing a total of $33.8 million for full-day kindergarten development grants.



This effective early intervention literacy program has helped improve the performance of children throughout the Commonwealth who are at-risk of failing to read by the end of 1st grade.  In recognition, the Conference Report provides $2.9 million to show its continued support for Reading Recovery.  This amount includes a $500K earmark which provides for Reading Recovery teacher salaries.



The Conference Committee budget increases spending on regional transportation by $3 million over the FY08 budget.  This addition brings such funding to $61.3 million – decreasing the gap to full funding of this program. These funds are critically important to regional school districts for which transportation costs are often a significant portion of their overall operating budgets. 



The Conference Committee budget funds this line at $2,075,000, an increase of $125,000 over the FY08 funding level.  This line funds partial reimbursement of the transportation costs of regional vocational schools, agricultural schools, independent vocational schools, and collaboratives. 



The Conference Committee budget provides full funding for the special education circuit breaker for FY09 estimated costs, funding the line at $230,043,700.  This program provides state financial assistance to school districts for high-cost special education students. 



For the fourth consecutive year, the Conference Committee Report includes funding for the statewide pilot program testing a model of delivery for special education transportation services.  The cost of these services has considerably outpaced the rise in regular education transportation in recent years and the quality of service needs improvement.  The goal of the pilots is to demonstrate how service and efficiency can be enhanced with more collaboration in out-of-district transportation. Over the next fiscal year, the pilot program will be rolled out to ten collaborative districts which will serve the entire state.  Additionally, the Conference Committee budget provides for $2 million for SPED transportation costs for participating school districts. 



The Conference Committee budget included $800,000 for audio taped textbooks for special needs children.



The Conference Committee includes in the FY09 budget a $400,000 grant program for lowering the size of classrooms in grades K-3 to improve student achievement and reduce the achievement gap.



These grants help districts work through the many challenges that are involved in transitioning to a longer school day and/or year. The Legislature continues to show its commitment to this important initiative by providing this line item with $17.5 million, reflecting a $4.5 million increase over last year’s funding. 



The Conference Report includes a total of $550,000 to support matching grants for Citizen Schools.  These valuable after-school learning programs help students strengthen their academic skills, develop their personal leadership skills, and better prepare them for college.  



Provides $5.55 million for after-school initiatives, reflecting an increase of $3.55 million over last year’s funding level.  This will help preserve and expand successful after school programs and will also support important summer month programming. 



The Legislature continued its commitment to funding programs for the Commonwealth’s highest achieving students, appropriating $750,000 for Gifted and Talented education.


YOUTHBUILD (7061-9626)

Provides $2.77 million, reflecting an increase of $500k over last year’s funding, for Youth Build programs which help 16 to 24 year olds learn valuable vocational skills while earning a diploma or GED.  These additional funds will ensure that this successful program reaches out to more of our state’s unemployed and undereducated young people.



The Legislature has again shown its commitment to ensuring that our educators receive high-quality content training for math and science.  In addition, funds have been set aside for Advanced Placement (AP) training for educators in an effort to increase the number of AP classes and students in the Commonwealth.





The Conference Committee provides $250,000 in funding for a Bullying Prevention Program. 





In the FY09 Conference Report the Legislature shows its continued commitment and support for the care and development of young children by providing funding for the following early education and care line items:



The FY09 Conference Report demonstrates the Legislature’s continued commitment to our young children by supporting its goal of moving toward universal access to high quality early childhood and care in the Commonwealth. The Conference Report funds the MA UPKprogram at $12.1 million in order to provide access to quality pre-kindergarten education and related services for three and four year old children in the Commonwealth. This reflects an increase of $5 million over last year. Additional language in this line item also enables funding to be used to leverage and enhance community wide capacity building efforts in the Commonwealth.  



The Conference Report provides a total of $5 million for the provider rate reserve. This subsidized child care rate will help child care providers attract and retain high-quality staff, effectively contributing to the overall improvement of our state’s child care system.



Provides $4 million for the early educator scholarship. These funds will provide opportunity and resources for our early education teachers and child care providers to obtain college level education in the area of child development.  Scholarships will cover the cost of tuition, fees and expenses for eligible candidates working in the field of early education and care while pursuing associates, bachelors, or masters degrees.    



Provides $79.09 million for supportive early education and care. This line item ensures all children in the Commonwealth with active DSS cases receive child care services.



Provides $197.7 million for child care vouchers and contracts, reflecting an increase of $30.8 million in order to ensure adequate childcare slots are in place for welfare recipients.



Provides $213.6 million for income-eligible early education and care programs, reflecting an increase of $3.74 million over last year’s funding level.



The Conference Report provides a total of $10 million for grants to Head Start programs, reflecting a $1 million increase over last year’s funding. This invaluable program provides services to needy children from 0-5 years of age. Since 1964, this federal-to-local school-readiness program has provided comprehensive services to families in the Commonwealth who are living at or below the poverty level.



Provides $4.6 million for professional development opportunities for early education and care providers in the Commonwealth, reflecting an increase of $1.45 million over last year’s funding.



Provides a total of $2.9 million for the provision of mental health consultation services designed to address mental health issues at an early age and limit the unnecessary suspension and expulsion of pre-school aged children in the Commonwealth. This amount reflects an increase of $400k over last year’s funding level.



Earmarks $1 million for the Reach Out and Read Program.  This program promotes early literacy by providing families with new books and training doctors and nurses to give advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud to their children.



Earmarks $3.1 million to provide continued support for the Parent Child Home Program.  This scientifically proven parental education program fosters quality parent-child educational interaction, and teaches parents how to encourage the development of their child’s early literacy skills.  Also earmarks $5.4 million for Mass Family Networks program. 






Veterans’ Budget

July 8, 2008

Provided by Representative Verga and Senator McGee (Chairs, Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs)

Representative Verga and Senator McGee (Chairs, Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs) thanked the leadership, and their colleagues for their help and support in producing the Veterans and Military FY 2009 Conference Committee Budget

Veterans and Military FY 2009 Conference Committee Budget Highlights

The Conference Committee Budget:

· Provides $47 million+ for the Soldiers’ Homes in Chelsea and Holyoke (Line Items 4180-0100 and 4190-0100). The Soldiers’ Homes are state-funded, fully accredited health care complexes that offer eligible veterans quality hospital care, skilled nursing and long term care, full-time residential accommodations, and multi-service outpatient care. The conference budget provides $47,291,241, a more than $1.5 million increase over FY08 appropriations, for these critical veterans centers.

· Provides $18.5+ million for Veterans Annuities (Line Item 1410-0300). Last year, tens of thousands of Massachusetts veterans, including all 100% service connected disabled veterans, received state annuity benefits. “The Welcome Home Bill” increased the annual amount of annuities benefits to $2000 and expanded eligibility to include Gold Star Spouses. This year, the Legislature approved more than $420,000 of new annuity funding over the FY08 level to ensure that these benefits will continue to be provided to an increasing population.

· Increases Chapter 115 Veterans Benefits by $5.7+ million over FY08 (Line Item 1410-0400). The Conference budget includes $20,904,223 in funding for benefits for veterans in need, a one-of-a-kind program in the nation establish by the Massachusetts Legislature. This is an increase of $5.7+ million over the FY 08 appropriation.

For the second year in a row, the budget included language that ensures local veterans agents/services officers receive sufficient training from the state Department of Veterans’ Services, to implement the Chapter 115 program. The language also guarantees that such trainings will take place in several accessible locations across in the Commonwealth, including at the Massachusetts Veterans’ Service Officers Association (MVSOA) training conferences.

· Funds the Newly Created “Special Commission to Study the Hidden Wounds of War.” More than 29,000 servicemembers have returned home to the Commonwealth since September 11, 2001. This 19-member special commission is charged with examining the establishment of a mandatory mental health treatment program for national guard members, a state military family leave policy for primary caregivers of returning servicemembers, and a statewide education training program to assist law enforcement, corrections officers and other first responders in recognizing the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. The Conference budget provides $25,000 for the funding of the Commission (Chapter 1 of the Resolves of 2008).

· Provides $5+ million for 15 Organizations Which Serve Homeless Veterans (Line Items 1410-0250 and 1410-0251). Despite the challenges of a tight fiscal year, the legislature maintained its commitment to fighting homelessness among veterans and funded all programs included in the FY08 budget.

United Veterans of America – Leeds $220,000
Veterans Hospice Homestead (Leominster) and Veterans Hospice (Fitchburg) $405,500
Unity House Homeless Veterans’ Residence – Gardner $199,405
Southeastern Veterans Housing Program, Inc. – New Bedford $652,395
Springfield Bilingual Veterans Outreach Center – Springfield $51,975
Transition House in Springfield – Springfield $75,000
Massachusetts Shelter for Homeless Veterans – Worcester $625,105
Habitat P.L.U.S. – Lynn $190,000
Our Neighbor’s Table – Amesbury $25,000
The Mansion – Haverhill $80,000
Homestead Program – Hyannis $37,350
Veterans Benefits Clearinghouse – Dorchester $100,350
Veterans Benefits Clearinghouse – Roxbury $73,350
Turner House – Williamstown $42,000
New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans – Boston (see below)

· Provides $2.2+ million for New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans in Separate Line Item (Line Item 1410-0251). New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans is a substance-free shelter offering a residential care program for both male and female homeless veterans. They also offer support services such as education and training, health care, and free legal services to veterans. The $2,278,466 in funding provided in a stand alone line item enables the shelter to continue to maximize private and matching donations and federal grants.

· Provides $2.3+ million for 17 Veterans Outreach Centers (Line Item 1410-0012) The Conference budget provided $2,389,748 in funding, an increased of more than $433,000 over the Governor’s budget, for veterans outreach centers, which give struggling veterans much-needed access to educational and career opportunities. The legislature funded all outreach centers that were funded in FY08 and also funded two new programs (the Central Massachusetts Veterans Outreach Center and the 54th Massachusetts Volunteers and the Colored Ladies). Additionally, $200,000 was included under the Outreach Center line item for outreach and counseling programs for recently returning servicemembers.

Veteran’s Oral History Project at the Morse Institute Library – Natick $30,000
Montachusett Veterans’ Outreach Center – Gardner $367,422
Veterans Association of Bristol County – Fall River $100,000
Puerto Rican Veterans Association of Massachusetts – Springfield $200,000
Mason Square Area Veterans Outreach Center – Springfield $70,000
Metrowest/Metrosouth Outreach Center – Framingham $84,453
Nathan Hale Foundation of Plymouth – Plymouth $150,000
Cape Cod Free Clinic and Community Health Center – Falmouth $100,000
Veterans Benefit Clearinghouse – Boston (Roxbury) $228,771
Veterans Northeast Outreach Center – Haverhill $100,000
NamVets of the Cape and Islands – Hyannis $131,500
Puerto Rican Veterans Associations of Massachusetts – Boston area $100,000
Middleboro Veterans Outreach Center – Middleboro $50,000
United Veterans of America – Berkshire County $100,000
North Shore Veterans Counseling Center – Beverly $106,102
Central Massachusetts Veterans Outreach Center – Worcester $150,000
54th Massachusetts Volunteers and the Colored Ladies $50,000

· Provides $3.4+ million for National Guard Tuition and Fee Waivers (Line Item 8700-1150). The House approved $3,424,492 for this program, which went into effect in July 2006. This program waives tuition and fees for Massachusetts National Guard members who attend UMass, state colleges, and community colleges. There are approximately 7,000 members of the Massachusetts Air and Army National Guard.

· Extends the Pay Differential Law for National Guard and Reserve. The budget included language that provides a 3-year extension to the law that calls for the Commonwealth to make up any salary difference for state employees who are members of the National Guard or Reserve and are called up for active duty military service. It also extends the local option for cities and towns to adopt these benefits for municipal employees, including for employees of a school district. The law, set to expire this September 11, 2008, would be extended for another three years, until September 11, 2011.

· Provides $2.3+ million for the Department of Veterans’ Services (Line Item 1410-0010). The Conference budget provides $2,338,552 to ensure that the Department of Veterans’ Services continue to provide various services, such as increased outreach to veterans. The budget also included 1) language that requires the Department of Veterans’ Services to continue to submit an annual report to the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs and the Ways and Means Committees pertaining to its outreach efforts, 2) authorization to fund a housing specialist and 3) authorization to expend funds for the Glory 54th Brigade.

· Increases funding by $1.8+ million over FY08 for the Massachusetts National Guard (Line Item 8700-0001). The legislature provided $9,207,659, more than $1.8+ million over the FY08 budget, for the military division operating budget. This reflects a need for funding for troop preparedness, state activations and facility maintenance cost.

· Provides $1.7 million for the National Guard Life Insurance Reimbursement Program (Line Item 0611-1010). The program, established as part of “The Welcome Home Bill,” provides partial reimbursement to Massachusetts National Guard Members for life insurance premiums for policies worth up to $400,000.

Environmental Budget

July 8, 2008

From Representative Smizik’s Office

In highlighting important items in the environmental budget Chairman Smizik thanked the House Leadership and his colleagues in the House and Senate.

The highlights include:

Increased administrative funding for the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. This funding will help the Executive Office as it takes on the new challenges of putting the energy bill into action, implementing the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and beginning the ocean management planning process.
$36M for the Department of Environmental Protection. DEP enforces all of the environmental laws of the Commonwealth and takes in more money than any state agency through its enforcement actions. This funding also provides an earmark for implementation of the Mercury Management Act, which will remove mercury from the state’s waste stream.
Restored funding for the Natural Heritage Program. The Natural Heritage Program is responsible for protecting the state’s rare animals and plants. This program received consistent funding until 2003 when it was removed from the budget. Since then, the program has struggled along, using state bonds, federal grants and voluntary contributions. The Natural Heritage Program not only protects endangered species, but also provides vital information to developers regarding location of endangered species and means of protecting habitat.
• $1.09M for Stormwater Management and $ 2M for the Division of Water Supply Protection. These line items help to protect both the quality of our drinking water and the quality of water that we use for recreation. The storm water management funding helps the Department of Conservation and Recreation manage the runoff that flows into the Charles River and Boston Harbor.
Over $29 M for the Division of Urban Parks and Recreation and $26M for the Division of State Parks and Recreation. This additional funding will help to restore Massachusetts’ parks to their world -class status by providing adequate funding for maintenance and staffing in the park system.
$1.6 M for the Toxic Use Reduction Institute at UMASS Lowell and $1.7 for the Office of Technical Assistance. Both OTA and TURI provide valuable scientific research and technical support to help businesses as they transition to using fewer toxic chemicals in Massachusetts industry and manufacturing.
• Finally, $200,000 was earmarked for the Buy Local Campaign, a marketing strategy that promotes consumption of locally grown agricultural products. This earmark is not only good for agriculture, but good for Massachusetts’ economy as well.

Representative Smizik is Chairman of the Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources & Agriculture

Legislature Supports Libraries

July 8, 2008

Contributed by Naomi Parker, Representative Falzone’s Office

Library Legislative Caucus Chairman Representative Mark Falzone and Representative Sean Garballey, members of the newly formed Library Legislative Caucus, announced that the Massachusetts Legislature has provided strong funding for Massachusetts libraries in the Legislative Budget for Fiscal Year 2009. This final budget, approved in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, now moves to the desk of Governor Deval Patrick for signature into law.

These items in the budget include $17,166,071 for state aid to regional libraries and $9,989,844 for state aid to public libraries, both increased from appropriations in previous years. The budget also provides expanded money for two Talking Book Libraries, serving those who are blind or sight impaired, both of which received historically high funding. Other budgetary items include $1,048,560 for the operation of the Board of Library Commissioners, $3,101,000 for a Library Technology and Resource Sharing Network, and $250,000 for a matching grant program to encourage private fundraising.

Representative Garballey is a founding member of the Library Legislative Caucus.