Budget amendments include funding to help stem the opioid epidemic, fund housing, critical public safety programs, economic development and environmental safeguards
Senator Julian Cyr (D-Truro) successfully filed twenty-four amendments, totaling $7.34 million in the FY20 state senate budget. Cyr secured $740,000 in local initiatives and $6.6 million in statewide priorities for Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. A majority of amendments focus on providing housing, shelter, and mental health services for seniors and our most vulnerable citizens; fighting the opioid crisis via funding evidence-based prevention and harm reduction programs; supporting critical public safety programs to help veterans, children, as well as victims and witnesses to violent crimes; promoting economic development through employee ownership of small businesses and job training; and safeguarding the environment.
“I am truly honored to help so many people in my district and throughout the Commonwealth with the FY20 budget by investing in programs which care for human life whether someone is homeless, suffers from mental illness, addicted to opioids, or is the victim of violent crime. People need to believe that our state government will be there to help them in their darkest time,” said State Senator Julian Cyr. “My budget priorities also highlight how state government can spur economic development by investing in job training, promote employee ownership of small businesses, while protecting our environment as a watchdog that puts public health first."
The Opioid Crisis and Public Safety
Harm Reduction through Syringe Access (Amendment #574) – Harm reduction is a strategy used to keeping people using opioids alive and safe until they progress into clinical treatment. This amendment is a $5 million package encompassing several evidence-based harm reduction strategies, as recommended by the Harm Reduction Commission established under the 2018 CARE Act, including:
- $1.5 million to further expansions of syringe/needle exchange programs throughout the Commonwealth to mitigate the transmission of blood-borne diseases.
- $150,000 for a pilot program for fentanyl test strips to determine the presence of fentanyl in substances.
- $300,000 for hospitals to stock Narcan kits to be sent home to any patient discharged from an emergency department for post-overdose care and recovery.
- Provide funding for the Department of Public Health to seek expansion of the highly successful Boston Healthcare for the Homeless Supportive Place for Observation and Treatment (SPOT) site through one or multiple pilots. These pilot programs, based on SPOT, would be a supportive place(s) for observation and treatment, offering medical monitoring, Narcan rescue kit distribution, counseling, and connection to primary care, behavioral health, and addiction treatment services.
Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Opioid Study (Amendment#584) - Expends $50,000 for a study on opioid use in the Commonwealth specifically related to the impact opioid use has had on grandparents and other relatives raising children whose parents are addicted to opioids.
Protecting Victims and Witnesses from Violent Offenders (Amendment #375) – Expends $100,000 to Massachusetts Office of Victims Assistance (MOVA) for training programs for victim witness advocates in district attorneys’ office throughout the Commonwealth. MOVA advances the rights of crime victims and witnesses by providing outreach and education, policy advocacy, policy and program development, legislative advocacy, grants management and service referrals.
Addiction Prevention Programs in Schools (Amendment #275) – Expends $50,000 for Calmer Choice, an innovative Cape-based non-profit, to offer substance abuse prevention programs in school districts on Cape Cod.
Naloxone Bulk Purchase for Cape Cod (Amendment #611) – Provides $20,000 to Barnstable County Human Services to fund a bulk purchase of naloxone/Narcan, for distribution to public safety agencies and non-profits on Cape Cod and the Islands. This revenue will provide close to 300 life-saving doses of Narcan.
Dukes County Substance Abuse Program (Amendment #661) – Provides $40,000 in the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services line item for the Dukes County substance misuse and detox program, which is run by Martha’s Vineyard Community Services (MVCS,) to provide medically assisted treatment to Islanders.
Shelter for the Chronically Homeless (Amendment #632) – Expends $45,000 to the Barnstable Police Department Community Impact Unit for an emergency shelter program to shelter homeless individuals during weather related emergencies. 20 lives were saved last winter due to the support of funding for emergency shelters.
Children's Advocacy Centers (Amendment #591) – Requires level funding for all Children's Advocacy Centers that were funded through earmarks in FY19. Children Advocacy Centers specializes in comprehensive services for children who are the victims of child abuse. These include: Children's Cove of Barnstable County; Children's Advocacy Center of Worcester County; Children's Advocacy Center of Bristol County; Plymouth County Children's Advocacy Center; and Children's Advocacy Center of Suffolk County, Inc. Children’s Cove of Barnstable County will receive $140,000.
Regional Parity for Fire Training (Amendment #1093) – Provides $100,000 for the Barnstable County Fire and Rescue Training Academy for the relocation of the Academy to Joint Base Cape Cod. It is the only training academy available to firefighters on the Cape and Islands and is essential to providing continuing education for fire departments, as well as training new recruits.
Eliminate Waiting List for Department of Mental Health (DMH) Rental Subsidy Program (Amendment #798) – Increases funding by $1million to provide for new housing vouchers for DMH clients who are homeless or stuck in hospitals. A safe and stable home is critical to effective treatment and recovery. With this funding, the wait list will be eliminated and DMH clients will move into housing.
Mental Health for Older Adults (Amendment #578) – Will increase funding by $300,000 to the Elder Mental Health Outreach Team (EMHOT) to augment services to home-bound and geographically isolated elders. Existing services include mental health assessments, counseling, and connecting elders to additional community supports to address the broader factors associated with age and behavioral health.
Veterans Housing and Homelessness Services (Amendment #869) – Provides $55,000 to the Cape and Islands Veterans Outreach Center for veterans housing and homeless prevention services, including a contract for services with the Blinded Veterans Association of Cape Cod and the Islands.
Housing Assistance on Cape Cod (Amendment #861) – Expends $80,000 to Housing Assistance Corporation of Cape Cod for regional programs to provide comprehensive services to remove obstacles to housing for homeless and housing insecure individuals and families. HAC provides homelessness prevention assistance, and employment services to individuals and families to enable family self-sufficiency.
Walsh Property (Amendment #879) – Provides $25,000 designated for municipal use by the Town of Truro to help begin the process of planning the use of the recently purchased 70 acre parcel known as the Walsh Property.
Promoting Employee Ownership (Amendment #800) – Expends $150,000 for the Massachusetts Office of Employee Involvement and Ownership (MASSEIO). MASSEIO operations were restarted in April 2019. This funding will allow MASSEIO to continue to provide education, outreach and promotional efforts to create an environment in the Commonwealth which will expand and enhance employee involvement and ownership.
Fisherwomen and Fishermen Job Training (Amendment #954) – Expends $40,000 to Cape Cod Fishermen’s Alliance to provide young fisherwomen and fishermen training to succeed in entry-level positions in Cape Cod’s commercial or charter fleet. This funding will help train the next generation of Cape Codders to create a life from the regions’ small boat fishing industry.
Access to Emergency Services on Nantucket (Amendment #670) – Expends $40,000 to Nantucket Cottage Hospital to provide off-island medical transportation for residents including the transportation of patients with behavioral health conditions.
Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention (Amendment #651) – This amendment calls for a study by Mass Department of Health (DPH) regarding the revenue necessary for DPH’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program to provide all eligible children with the legally-mandated services to prevent elevated blood lead levels. Further, for a comparison of how states with comparable housing stock finance childhood lead poisoning prevention programs. This amendment is a companion to a $2.7 million investment in Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Trust in the FY20 Senate Ways and Means budget championed by Senator Cyr.
Nursing Homes (Amendment #592) – Inserts language for nursing home facilities that provide quality care to complex patient populations or geographically isolated locations to be eligible for an increase in Medicaid funding. The Cape and Islands District has the three most geographically isolated nursing homes in the state.
Responsible Emergency Planning and Monitoring (Amendment #1070) – Once Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant closes next month, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and the Department of Public Health (DPH) will no longer have the authority to assess the nuclear power plant for activities related to emergency planning, public safety, and environmental monitoring surrounding the facility. This poses a public safety and environmental health risk to surrounding communities and the Commonwealth. The state needs to continue its role as a watchdog while Pilgrim decommissions. Therefore, this amendment assures that MEMA and DPH can continue their important work to ensure public safety and health, paid for by Pilgrim, to via ongoing assessment of active, or inactive, nuclear power generating facilities harboring volatile nuclear materials, such as spent fuel rods at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station.
Food Access and Affordability (Amendment #613) – Provides $50,000 for a Local Food Access & Affordability Program, to expand a coalition of farmers markets throughout Barnstable and Dukes counties to promote SNAP, WIC, Senior and Veteran benefits at Farmers Markets, as well as the creation of site-specific programs targeted to schools, libraries and community centers.
Culture and Educational Programs.
Civics Education on Cape Cod (Amendment #279) – Expends $30,000 for the John F. Kennedy Museum of Hyannis to expand their civics education programming for pre-kindergarten through high school students to develop skills to embrace individual differences, learn to listen closely, dialogue respectfully, and think critically.
Provincetown 400 (Amendment #874) – Provides $25,000 to Provincetown Memorial Association for its 400th commemoration of the landing of the Mayflower in Provincetown Harbor. The amendment will support educational programs recognizing the Mayflower Compact, will enhance the Wampanoag’s native people’s exhibit at the Pilgrim Museum, and highlight Provincetown as the first landing of the Mayflower Pilgrims in the New World.
Additional Statewide Senate FY20 Budget Allocations Benefiting Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket
The Senate FY 2020 budget, put together by the Senate Ways and Means Committee (SWM), also funds many additional statewide legislative priorities that Senator Cyr has tirelessly championed. The budget includes historic funding levels for every school district across the Commonwealth as well as numerous investments in mental health, addiction services, and other regional and local initiatives. The following revenue allocations are in addition to Senator Cyr securing $7.35 million in senate budget amendments.
SWM Education Funding
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 historic education investment allows for a minimum aid increase of at least $30 per pupil over FY 2019 for every school district across the state.
It also includes $345M for the Special Education Circuit Breaker, reimbursing school districts for the cost of educating students with disabilities at the statutorily required 75% reimbursement rate, an increase of $25.7M over FY 2019 levels. Additionally, $75.8M has been allocated to reimburse school districts for regional transportation costs.
SWM Health Funding
- $10M for the new Behavioral Health, Outreach, Access and Support Trust Fund to support a loan forgiveness initiative for behavioral health workers and a general public awareness campaign.
- $150.2M was allocated including $3.5M in new funding to open five new recovery centers.
- A $5M investment was made towards the substance use disorder workforce to include training on medication management, medication-assisted treatment and treatment of co-occurring disorders.
- $93.4M was allotted towards 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.
SWM Transportation, Library, Arts & Councils on Aging Funding
- Increased funding for Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) to $90.5M and ties future funding to inflation
- $29.1M for the Board of Library Commissioners, $11.5M for regional library local aid, $9.9M for municipal libraries, $3.3M for technology and automated resources
- $18M for the Massachusetts Cultural Council to support local arts, culture, and the creative economy
- $17M for local Councils on Aging to strengthen programs and services in senior centers across the state.