FY14 budget passes house

The House passed a balanced FY ’14 budget focused on increased government accountability and oversight across the Commonwealth. It provides some additional funding with no increase in the income tax as proposed by Gov. Deval Patrick back in January. It’s a thoughtful and  fiscally responsible budget that addresses many of the priorities Gov. Patrick highlighted in his budget plan in a balanced and fiscally responsible way. You can find the budget details by clicking here. You can find an analysis of the House budget and amendments by clicking here.The $34 Billion budget ensures over $1 Billion will remain in the state’s Rainy Day Fund and prioritizes investments to Local Aid & Higher Education to provide assistance to struggling cities and towns and assures that students have access to the stepping stones necessary to give them a competitive edge in tomorrow’s job market.

Franklin and Medway will see an increase in Chapter 70 aid for both communities totalling $308,000. This is in addition to a boost in Chapter 90 aid  which results in $1,382,441 for Franklin (an increase of $460,814) and $617,259 for Medway (an increase of $205,753). The budget also includes a $20,000 public safety grant for Franklin to assist with the new park next to the police station and a $15,000 grant for Medway to assist with financing the Vietnam Moving Wall Memorial.

This budget demonstrates the House’s continued emphasis on supporting higher education. It increases funding to state universities and invests in the UMass system, facilitating a freeze in tuition and fees.  It also funds a competitive grant program for Adult College Transition Services to help low-income workers succeed in college programs. Through all this, the House budget fosters affordability and makes a significant commitment to ensure that the Commonwealth’s residents are better equipped to attain a college degree and enter the competitive job market.
The House budget takes a firm stand on reforming the agencies tasked with fostering safe educational environments for our youngest citizens. A Special Commission will examine the need for greater, affordable, quality early education and care services and will determine methods for addressing the high cost of such services. The House budget also addresses the concerns raised by the Auditor’s recent inquiry into the lack of compliance oversight essential to ensuring the health and safety of children in private care.  A compliance manager is placed in the Department of Early Education and Care to review oversight procedures and to create efficiencies that ensure vendors are compliant with new and existing regulations.
Continuing our focus on reform, the House proposes additional oversight within the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to bolster the waste and abuse prevention reforms we enacted last fiscal year. The budget establishes the Bureau of Program Integrity, which will provide continuous oversight of public assistance programs while maintaining eligibility verification and ensuring we focus our state resources on those residents most in need of our assistance.
The FY ’14 House budget reflects a commitment to protect and assist the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable residents. The budget includes increased funding to important services within the Department of Developmental Services, such as Family Support Services and the Turning 22 program. It ensures that homeless shelters receive sufficient funding to enter into 12 month contracts, providing increased predictability and certainty over previous fiscal years. To protect families in need of shelter, this budget requires that clients be granted presumptive eligibility, so that no family in an emergency situation will be turned away from shelter. The budget also provides additional funding for Emergency Food Assistance.Particularly after the recent tragedy at the Boston Marathon, the House budget provides targeted investments to support our public safety officials, specifically through increased funding to the Shannon Grants program; the budget also authorizes $100,000 in killed-in-the-line of duty benefits to the family of MIT Police Officer Sean Collier. Additional funding is also provided to the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism to help us remind travelers worldwide that the city of Boston and the entire Commonwealth remain a symbol of the vitality and an important source of history for our country.

The budget now moves to the Senate for consideration beginning the week of May 22.   You can follow the progress at http://www.malegislature.gov/.
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