Senate Passes FY22 Budget
Cyr negotiates for key Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket priorities during debate
(BOSTON – 6/01/2021) The Massachusetts State Senate on Thursday unanimously passed a $47.7 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22), after adding $63.7 million in targeted investments over the course of three days of robust deliberations.
For his part, State Senator Julian Cyr (D-Truro) was able to secure funding for a spate of local priorities and statewide public health investments. The final budget was approved with unanimous bipartisan support by largely meeting the dueling mandates of stabilizing the Commonwealth’s finances and making targeted investments to address emerging needs equitably as the state recovers from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"In last fiscal year's budget, we triaged. In this year's, we heal,” said Senator Cyr. “Massachusetts has an enormous opportunity to build something different after being demonstratively shown that our pre-COVID-19 normal was insufficient for so many. The FY22 budget advanced and passed unanimously by the Senate makes record levels of investment in education, public health, and economic recovery. I am encouraged by my colleagues' work through the debate process to ensure the end result meets the moment before us, and I’m proud to deliver once again for Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket."
“This is an extraordinarily hopeful budget, designed to get us ‘back to better,’ stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “The Massachusetts Senate vowed to act on what we learned from the COVID-19 public health crisis and invest in areas that lift up our children, families, and seniors across all communities — and that is exactly what this budget does. I am particularly proud of the bipartisan investments made in the areas of public health, housing, veterans’ care, our friends and neighbors with disabilities, and especially mental and behavioral health. As I said when this process began, this proposal takes on the important but invisible work of stitching the fabric of our Commonwealth back together after a challenging year.”
Cyr's office worked to secure a barrage of earmarks that fund critical organizations and initiatives on Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket. Among the beneficiaries of his work were Barnstable County Government, Barnstable County Fire and Rescue Training Academy, Housing Assistance Corporation Cape Cod, Calmer Choice of Cape Cod, the Center for Coastal Studies, Sustainable CAPE, Harbor Health Community Health Center, the Cape and Islands Veteran's Outreach Center, WE CAN Center Corporation, the Lower and Outer Cape Leadership Forum, Martha's Vineyard Hospital, and Nantucket Cottage Hospital.
In addition to his advocacy for local priorities, Cyr engaged his colleagues on statewide issues that were of particular relevance to Cape Cod and the Islands. The Senator devoted speaking time during the debate to supporting restaurants when the matter of extending pandemic-era dining options through the budget arose. Cyr, who spent 14 years waiting tables in his family's seasonal restaurant, spoke to how restaurants shaped his approach to legislating and the importance of supporting local establishments recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. The amendment in question was withdrawn, but not without a commitment from Senate leadership to take up the matter in the coming days as a standalone bill.
Cyr filed an amendment to bolster the statewide fishing industry that earned the support of a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers from coastal districts. The chamber adopted Amendment 304, which appropriated $100,000 for the Fishing Partnership Support Services initiatives to educate, train and mentor young and beginning individuals engaged in commercial fishing through an apprenticeship program.
Cyr’s expertise in public health shaped a significant number of his offices’ statewide amendments to the FY22 budget. Cyr was able to negotiate an additional $750,000 to the HIV/AIDS line item in the Senate version of the budget, which funds initiatives to treat the disease and prevent further infections. HIV/AIDS cases in Massachusetts have risen steadily in recent years, and the Senator took to the floor of the chamber to remind his colleagues that for the LGBTQ community, COVID-19 is "the second pandemic of our era." On the local public health front, Cyr secured funds for Barnstable County to purchase Naloxone; for Harbor Health Community Health Center to expand dental services on Cape Cod; for Calmer Choice Cape Cod to host programming to service the emerging children’s mental health crisis; and for subsidized off-island medical transportation from Island hospitals.
As one of only two openly LGBTQ lawmakers in the chamber, Cyr worked to ensure that the FY22 budget addressed the public health of the LGBTQ community. Two of Cyr's amendments, 467 and 802, renewed state commitments to the LGBT Aging Project and the Transgender Emergency Fund. Also added was Amendment 744, a change to ensure that BIPOC and LGBTQ youth were included in Massachusetts' employment initiatives.
Cyr was able to deliver on one of his long-term public health priorities in the Senate’s budget — stabilizing funding for child advocacy centers. These facilities are located throughout Massachusetts and provide a safe place for children to disclose abuse and are effective in supporting the work of law enforcement, prosecution and child protection. Prior to this year's budget, each center was responsible for working with individual lawmakers to secure its own state funding in addition to their critical client-facing work. After years of gnawing at this issue, Senator Cyr and his colleagues wrote a source of stable annual state funding for these facilities into the FY22 Senate budget.
Differences between the Senate budget and the version passed by the Massachusetts House of Representatives last month are expected to be reconciled through a Conference Committee.
The Senate’s budget confronts the frontline health care impacts of the pandemic to navigate the challenges posed by COVID-19. It also sustains support for the state’s safety net by funding MassHealth at a total of $18.98 billion, thereby providing over 2 million of the Commonwealth’s children, seniors, and low-income residents access to comprehensive health care coverage. Understanding that the pandemic has strained the health care safety net, the Senate’s budget also invests over $1 billion to support vital mental and behavioral health initiatives while ensuring children and families continue to receive supports across the continuum of services provided.
As a cornerstone of the Commonwealth’s equitable recovery, the Senate’s budget protects access to educational opportunity and charts a path forward for students, families, educators, and institutions. The budget maintains the Senate’s commitment to implementing the Student Opportunity Act (SOA) by FY 2027. The Senate proposal fully funds the first year of the SOA consistent with the $5.503 billion local aid agreement reached in March with the House Committee on Ways and Means, amounting to an increase of $220 million over FY21.
Despite the uncertainty created by the pandemic, this increased level of investment represents a 1/6th implementation of SOA rates and ensures that school districts across the Commonwealth have adequate and equitable resources to provide high quality educational opportunities for all students. The Senate’s budget also includes $387.9 million for the Special Education (SPED) Circuit Breaker, reimbursing school districts for the cost of educating students with disabilities at the statutorily required 75 per cent reimbursement rate. In addition, recognizing that school districts across the state have experienced fluctuations in student enrollment related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Senate’s budget creates a $40 million reserve consistent with the March local aid agreement to provide additional aid to districts experiencing increases in student enrollment compared to October 2020.
The Senate’s FY 2022 budget employs a sensible approach to maintain long-term fiscal health by including up to $1.55 billion from the Stabilization Fund. It draws $50M less from reserves than the budget proposed by the Administration, ensuring that the Commonwealth maintains healthy reserves for years beyond the pandemic. Additionally, the Senate’s budget relies on $575 million from enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (eFMAP) reimbursements and $15 million in FEMA reimbursements to take advantage of changes at the federal level to maximize revenue opportunities. It also excludes the use of federal American Rescue Plan funds: the Senate will work collaboratively in the coming months to develop a responsive and thoughtful plan to support the needs of the Commonwealth.
The Senate also adopted a budget amendment to implement several recommendations of the newly created Tax Expenditure Review Commission. The commission thoroughly reviewed spending through the tax expenditure budget and highlighted several expenditures that no longer serve their desired purpose. The Senate heeded the advice of the commission and eliminated several such expenditures, slated to save taxpayers several million dollars beginning in tax year 2022.
Additional education investments include:
- $5.503 billion for Chapter 70 education funding
- $387.9 million for the Special Education Circuit Breaker
- $149.1 million to reimburse public school districts for costs incurred when students leave to attend charter schools
- $78.6 million to reimburse school districts for regional school transportation costs, after adding $1 million during debate
- $571.2 million for the University of Massachusetts, $321.7 million for the fifteen community colleges, and $298.1 million for the nine state universities
- $40 million reserve to provide additional aid to districts experiencing increases in student enrollment compared to October 2020
- $27.9 million for METCO grants to cities, towns and regional school districts, after adding $1.3 million during debate
- $15 million for grants to the Head Start program to maintain access to early education services for low-income families
- $10 million for the Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative to expand access to pre-kindergarten and preschool opportunities in underserved areas
- $9 million for a reserve to cover parent fees for families receiving subsidized childcare through the end of calendar year 2021
- $6 million for Dual Enrollment and $5 million for Early College Programs, more than doubling our commitment to these programs that provide high school students with better opportunities for post-graduate success
- $5 million for Social Emotional Learning Grants to help K-12 schools bolster social emotional learning supports for students, and $1 million for a new pilot program to provide mental health screenings for K-12 students
- $4 million for rural school assistance, after adding $1 million during debate
- $2 million 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
- $600,000, added during debate, for innovation pathway programs to create partnerships with employers to provide students with experience in specific high-demand industries, such as information technology, engineering, healthcare, life sciences and advanced manufacturing
- $507.5 million for Adult Support Services, including assisted outpatient programming and comprehensive care coordination among health care providers
- $175.3 million for a complete range of substance use disorder treatment and intervention services
- $97.1 million for children’s mental health services
- $50.3 million for domestic violence prevention services
- $39 million for early intervention services, to ensure supports are accessible and available to infants and young toddlers with developmental delays and disabilities, including funds to support health equity initiatives, after adding $1 million during debate
- $23 million for Family Resource Centers to improve and expand access to resources and programming for families
- $13 million for grants to support local boards of health, including funds to build upon the State Action for Public Health Excellence (SAPHE) Program, after adding $3 million during debate
- $12.3M for the Shannon Grants gang violence prevention and intervention program, after adding $1 million during debate
- $10.5M for the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative (SSYI), after adding $500,000 during debate
- $10 million to recapitalize the Behavioral Health, Access, Outreach and Support Trust Fund to support targeted behavioral health initiatives, including $5 million for loan forgiveness for mental health clinicians, $3 million of which is for child and adolescent psychiatrists, $1 million for public awareness campaigns, $3.5 million for student access to telebehavioral health services in schools, and $500,000 to enhance the mental health workforce pipeline
- $10 million for new grants to create Programs of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT) in each of the six executive office of health and human services regions of the Commonwealth to provide intensive community-based wraparound services to children and adolescents with serious mental and behavioral health needs
- $5.6 million for smoking prevention and cessation programs, after adding $1 million during debate
- $3.9 million for the Office of the Child Advocate, including $1 million for the establishment and operation of a state center on child wellness and trauma
- $2 million for veterans’ mental and behavioral health supports through Mass General’s Home Base Program.
- $600K for the women veterans’ outreach program, after adding $500K on the floor to expand the program
As the Senate works to emerge from the pandemic stronger and more resilient, it remains committed to an equitable recovery, expanding opportunity, and building a more inclusive Commonwealth. To that end, the Senate’s budget takes a number of critical steps to support workers and lift up working families with economic opportunities.
- Opportunity investments include:
- $50 million for adult basic education services to improve access to skills necessary to join the workforce
- $30 million for the Massachusetts Emergency Food Assistance Program
- $23 million for summer jobs and work-readiness training for at-risk youth
- $18 million in Healthy Incentives Programs to ensure vulnerable households have continued access to food options during the pandemic
- $15 million for a Community Empowerment and Reinvestment grant program to provide economic supports to communities disproportionately impacted by the criminal justice system
- $10 million for the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund to connect unemployed and under-employed workers with higher paying jobs
- $8.5 million for Career Technical Institutes to increase our skilled worker population and provide residents access to career technical training opportunities.
- $6 million for Regional Economic Development Organizations to support economic growth in every region
- $5 million for Community Foundations to provide emergency economic relief to historically underserved populations
- $4 million for the Secure Jobs Connect program, providing job placement resources and assistance for homeless individuals
- $2.5 million for the Massachusetts Cybersecurity Innovation Fund, including $1.5 million for new regional security operation centers which will partner with community colleges and state universities to provide cybersecurity workforce training to students and cybersecurity services to municipalities, non-profits, and small businesses
- $2 million for the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership
- $1.5 million for nonprofit security grant program, after adding $500,000 during debate
- $1 million for employment programs for young adults with disabilities
Additionally, the Senate’s budget builds on the success of last year’s efforts to tackle ‘deep poverty’ with a 20 per cent increase to Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) and Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC) benefits over December 2020 levels, ensuring families receive the economic supports they need to live, work and provide stability for their children.
Over a year into the pandemic, the role that access to affordable housing has played in our economic recovery is clear. Recognizing this, the Senate’s budget invests $572 million in housing and homelessness services. In addition to the more than $800 million in federal resources made available to support housing stability efforts, the Senate’s investment will help to keep families in their homes and support tenants and property owners during this uniquely challenging time.
Housing investments include:
- $195.9 million for Emergency Assistance Family Shelters, including funds to create an independent ombudsman’s office to act as a mediator and advocate for households applying to or residing in family shelters
- $150 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP), including $20 million in unspent funds carried forward from FY 2021, and recommended changes to the program to cap the share of a household’s income paid towards rent at 30 per cent
- $85 million for assistance to local housing authorities
- $16.3 million for Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT), in addition to $350 million in federal emergency rental assistance, and including changes to the RAFT program, adopted through the amendment process, to extend the maximum amount of rental assistance of $10,000 until December 31, 2021, and then maintain the maximum amount of rental assistance at $7,000 through the end of FY 2022, which support households in need during this recovery and helps us avoid sudden changes in benefit levels
- $56.4 million for assistance for homeless individuals
- $14.2 million for the Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP) providing rental assistance to people with disabilities, including $5.5 million in unspent funds carried forward from FY 2021, and $2.5 million for grants to improve or create accessible affordable housing units
- $8 million for the Housing Consumer Education Centers (HCECs).
- $8 million for assistance for unaccompanied homeless youth
- $3.9 million for the Home and Healthy for Good re-housing and supportive services program, including $250,000 for homeless LGBTQ youth