LEGISLATURE APPROVES BUDGET FOR FY22
July 9, 2021
Massachusetts Legislature Passes FY22 Budget
BOSTON – The Massachusetts State Legislature unanimously passed a $48.07 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22). This budget increases funding for education, local aid, economic development, and environmental protection initiatives, while also depositing funds into the state’s ‘rainy day’ account.
“The last year and half has been a real challenge, and I am pleased that we were able to produce a budget that will help in the recovery effort and positions the state for stability in the future,” said Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton). “Despite the uncertainty created by the pandemic, this budget fully funds vital programs, while also increasing funds and creating new programs in the areas of education, job training, environmental protection, and assistance for low-income residents. It is vital that the state provides a variety of assistance programs that are accessible and effective to allow families to rebound from the effects of the pandemic.”
Representative Galvin filed the following successful amendments:
$150,000 for the Pappas Rehabilitation Hospital’s summer program in Canton
$50,000 for the Norfolk County Regional Fire and Rescue Dispatch Center
$50,000 for the Blue Hills Weather Observatory
$25,000 for the restoration of the Tilden House
$50,000 for repairs of the Redman House (located on Ponky Golf Course and owned by the state, but home to the Neponset River Watershed Association).
Representative Galvin supported numerous amendments including:
$250,000 for the Trailside Museum
$40,000 for renovating the Stoughton Train Depot
$30,000 for hockey boards in Stoughton
$20,000 for OASIS in Stoughton
$20,000 for the Canton Alliance Against Substance Abuse
$20,000 for the Avon Coalition for Every Student
$36,000 for the Canton Fire Department to conduct trainings
Avon schools will receive $2.4 million and the Town of Avon will receive $761,741
Canton schools will receive $6.6 million and the Town of Canton will receive $2.3 million
Stoughton schools will receive $17.2 million and the Town of Stoughton will receive $3.5 million
The FY22 budget prioritizes funding for education by depositing $350 million into the new Student Opportunity Act Investment fund to be utilized in the coming years for the implementation of the state’s landmark Student Opportunity Act (SOA). The SOA increased the state’s level of investment to guarantee that school districts across the Commonwealth have adequate and equitable resources to provide high quality educational opportunities for all students. The FY22 budget also includes a $40 million reserve to provide additional aid to districts experiencing increases in student enrollment compared to October 2020.
To help families get back to work, the FY22 conference report includes $820 million for the early education sector, including $20 million to increase rates for early education providers, $15 million for Massachusetts Head Start programs, $10 million for the Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative to expand public preschool, and $9 million to cover the cost of fees for parents receiving subsidized early education in calendar year 2021. The budget funds early intervention services at $40.8 million to ensure supports are accessible and available to infants and young toddlers with developmental delays and disabilities, including funds to support health equity initiatives.
A number of “Green Budget” priorities were incorporated, including record funding levels for the state’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, funding for the Department of Ecological Restoration to address flooding concerns, and $13 million for a workforce development program for wind. The budget also boosted spending for the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s funding for state parks to $50 million.
This budget aims to address the increasing costs of caregiving by converting the existing tax deductions for young children, elderly or disabled dependents and business-related dependent care expenses into refundable tax credits. These tax credits will benefit low-income families who have little or no personal income tax liability and cannot claim the full value of the existing deductions. The conversion to a refundable tax credit will provide an additional $16 million to over 85,000 families each year. The budget also includes $30.5 million for Emergency Food Assistance, $7.5 million for grants to Community Foundations to support communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, and $5 million for the Secure Jobs Connect program, providing job placement resources and assistance for homeless individuals.
The FY22 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. The budget also provides resources to help with housing instability, including $150 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program to expand access to affordable housing, $85 million for grants to local housing authorities, $22M for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition Program and $8 million for Housing Consumer Education Centers to help administer nearly $1 billion in federal housing relief.
The budget makes the state’s film tax credit permanent and requires an increase in the percentage of production expenses or principal photography days in the Commonwealth from 50 per cent to 75 per cent. The film tax credit was set to expire in January 2023. The budget also includes a disability employment tax credit for employers that hire employees with a disability.
The FY22 budget repeals three ineffective tax expenditures as recommended by the Tax Expenditure Review Commission (TERC), namely the exemption of income from the sale of certain patents, the medical device tax credit, and the harbor maintenance tax credit, effective January 1, 2022. The TERC found that these tax expenditures are either obsolete, fail to provide a meaningful incentive, or fail to justify their cost to the Commonwealth. The TERC was created as part of a Senate budget initiative in Fiscal Year 2019.
Understanding that the pandemic has been a stressor on mental and behavioral health, the FY22 budget invests $175.6 million for substance use disorder and intervention services provided by the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services. It also invests $12.5 million to support a student telebehavioral health pilot, public awareness campaigns, loan forgiveness for mental health clinicians, and initiatives to mitigate emergency department boardings for individuals in need of behavioral health support, as well as $10 million for Programs of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT) grants to provide intensive, community-based behavioral health services for adolescents.
The budget includes $56.1 million for domestic violence prevention services, $6 million for Social Emotional Learning Grants to K- 12 schools to bolster social emotional learning supports for students, and $15 million to support local and regional boards of health as they continue to work on the front lines against the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Investments in economic and workforce development include a $17 million transfer to the Workforce Competitiveness Trust fund, $15.4 million for Career Technical Institutes, and $9.5 million for one-stop career centers to support economic recovery. $15 million will go to the Community Empowerment and Reinvestment Grant Program, $6 million for Regional Economic Development Organizations to support economic growth in all regions of the state, and $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
To protect residents of the Commonwealth, the FY22 budget codifies and expands the existing Governor’s task force on hate crimes to advise on issues relating to hate crimes, ways to prevent hate crimes and how best to support victims of hate crimes. The conference report makes the task force permanent and expands its membership to include members of the Legislature and an appointee from the Attorney General. The conference report also contains a provision that supports immigrants who are victims of criminal activity or human trafficking.
Having been passed by the House and Senate, the legislation now goes to Governor Baker for his signature.
MASSACHUSETTS HOUSE PASSES FY22 BUDGET, SUPPORTING RESIDENTS’ NEEDS AND MAKING TARGETED INVESTMENTS
May 4, 2021
BOSTON – The Massachusetts House of Representatives recently passed its Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) budget, which includes significant investments in education, supportive services for vulnerable populations, and workforce and economic development. Funded at $47.716 billion, the budget does not cut services nor does it raise taxes, and is made possible due to strong revenue collections, increased federal reimbursement, and by leveraging funds from the state’s Stabilization Fund.
“This balanced budget funds vital programs that resident rely on while also making investments that set the state on a path for a robust post-pandemic economic recovery,” said state Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton). “It is a well rounded budget that demonstrates a strong commitment to education and local aid, while also prioritizing programs related to economic development, environmental protection, and services for residents in need of assistance”.
Representative Galvin successfully secured funding through the amendment process to support a summer program at the Pappas Rehabilitation Hospital for Children, so the children it serves can continue to learn during the summer months. Representative Galvin also filed successful amendments to help fund operations at the Norfolk County Dispatch Center and the Blue Hills Weather Observatory. Two historic Canton homes, the Tilden House and the Redman House, will also receive funds for improvements through amendments filed by Representative Galvin. Representative Galvin co-sponsored an amendment with Representative Ted Philips (D-Sharon) that will help fund improvements of the Stoughton Train Depot.
The FY22 House budget boosts local aid for communities by $39.5 million over FY21 for a total of $1.168 billion and Chapter 70 education funding by $219.6 million over FY21 for a total of $5.503 billion. The budget fully funds the first year of a six-year implementation plan of the Student Opportunity Act (SOA), which was enacted in 2019 to support equitable funding for our most vulnerable students. The Legislature’s funding schedule ensures the SOA remains on track to be fully implemented over the course of seven years. Avon will receive $761,741 in local aid and $2.4 million for education through Chapter 70, Canton will receive $2.3 million in local aid and $6.6 million for education through Chapter 70, Stoughton will receive $3.5 million in local aid and $17.2 million for education through Chapter 70.
The House’s FY22 budget also creates a $40 million enrollment reserve fund to help school districts whose fall enrollment is negatively impacted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. To help students with the consequences of prolonged remote learning and address the full educational and social-emotional needs of students, the budget provides $15 million for summer education and supportive services. Additional education funding allocations include $367 million for Special Education Circuit Breaker, $154 million for Charter School Aid, $82 million for Regional Transportation, and $14 million for Homeless Student Transportation.
Early Education and Care (EEC) and higher education will also receive funding through the FY22 budget. EEC will receive a $20 million investment in rate increases for childcare providers across Massachusetts, $15 million for Head Start grants, $12 million for child care resource and referral agencies, $5 million for EEC higher education provider opportunities, and $2.5 million for early childhood mental health grants. The University of Massachusetts system will receive
$571, community colleges will receive $315 million, and state universities will receive $291 million. The budget also includes a $10 million increase in scholarship funding over last fiscal year for a new total of $130 million, and funds the community colleges SUCCESS Fund at $10.5 million and the STEM Starter Academy at $4.75 million.
The budget also includes large investments in labor and economic development, such as the creation of a trust fund dedicated to job training for the offshore wind industry to be administered by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. Additional investments include $50 million for adult education, $24 million for Youthworks Summer Jobs, $5 million for Small Business Technical Assistance, $5 million for Community Action Agency Operating and Outreach Support, and $2 million investment in Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership.
Many of the House FY22 budget’s most significant increases represent essential services and programs that serve Massachusetts’ most vulnerable residents, including $771.1 million for the Department of Transitional Assistance to maintain support to families, at-risk parents, seniors, and persons with disabilities. Other notable health and human services investments include $30 million for Emergency Food Assistance and $13 million for Healthy Incentives Program.
The House’s FY22 budget also includes funding for housing and homelessness prevention, investing $22 million in direct appropriations for Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) Program to promote housing stability and combat the threat of evictions. The budget also includes $148 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) and $84 million for public housing subsidies. Additional investments for individuals and youth include $56.4 million for Homeless Individuals Shelters, $12.5 million for the Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP), $12 million for Rental Subsidies for eligible DMH Clients, and $8 million for Unaccompanied Homeless Youth.
The budget funds the Department of Developmental Services at $2.29 billion, aimed to support individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. It includes $219.9 million for Day and Work programs, $84.9 million for Respite Family Supports, a $55.4 million increase for DDS’ Turning 22 class, a $7 million investment in transportation services, and $23.4 million for head injury treatment services.
Reflecting the Legislature’s strong commitment to providing access to care and treatment for individuals with a substance use disorder, the budget allocates $160 million for the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services, including support for the MA-Access to Recovery program and targeted investments in five additional recovery centers. The budget also provides funding for low-threshold housing for people experiencing homelessness, mental health disorders and at risk for HIV; outpatient and mobile services for persons with disabilities, and treatment at correctional facilities.
In an effort to ensure every resident has equal access to the criminal justice system, the House’s FY22 budget includes a $775 million investment in the Trial Court, $35 million for the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, and increases for Prisoners’ Legal Services and Mental Health Legal Advisors. The budget also renews commitments made by the state’s criminal justice reform, such as $11.1 million for community-based re-entry programs, $4 million in pre- and post-release services, and funds for labs to test rape kits that are currently backlogged.
The House included $312.6 million in funding for environmental services, which includes increases for state parks, environmental protection, and the endangered species programs. Additional investments include millions for hazardous waste site cleanups, river ways protection and access, and Clean Water Trust contract assistance. Funding was also included to conduct a study to determine the effects of glyphosate on public health and the environment.
The House budget makes the MEFA college savings tax deduction permanent, creates a commission to develop recommendations and best practices for responses to mental health emergencies, and creates a new program to approve rural growth funds that would invest in small businesses in rural communities. It also eliminates the sunset on the Film Tax Credit and increases the Conservation Land Tax Credit.
Speaker Mariano and the House Ways & Means Committee introduced their FY22 budget on April 14, 2021, following a review of the Governor’s proposal and a series of budget hearings. After three days of debate and over a thousand proposed amendments, the budget passed by the House of Representatives 160-0 and now goes to the Senate.
MASSACHUSETTS LEGISLATURE PASSES LANDMARK CLIMATE LEGISLATION
March 23, 2021
(BOSTON) The Massachusetts House of Representatives and state Senate recently passed nation-leading climate legislation, known as the Next Generation Climate Roadmap bill. The legislation overhauls the state’s climate laws, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, advances the clean energy industry, and prioritizes and protects environmental justice communities.
This passage of the climate bill comes after it was refiled following a gubernatorial veto last session. This session Governor Baker offered amendments to the bill, which have been considered by the Legislature. The House and Senate rejected efforts to slow the rate of progress toward net-zero emissions by 2050, while accepting a number of more technical amendments that improve the bill.
“This is historic legislation that creates a roadmap for the state to follow to reduce our carbon emissions and finally acknowledges and addresses the needs of environmental justice communities across the state. I am glad we were able to get this bill back to the governor’s desk so quickly,” said State Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton).
The legislation creates a statewide net-zero limit on greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and mandates sublimits for transportation, buildings, and other sectors of the economy. It will achieve this goal by expanding offshore wind and solar, tightening efficiency standards, and increaseing the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) by 3 per cent each year from 2025–2029, resulting in 40 per cent renewable energy by 2030. The legislation sets benchmarks for the adoption of clean energy technologies including electric vehicles, charging stations, solar technology, energy storage, heat pumps and anaerobic digestors.
An important aspect of the bill puts an environmental justice provisions into Massachusetts law, defining environmental justice populations and providing new tools and protections for affected neighborhoods. It also prioritizes equitable access to the state’s solar programs by low-income communities and establishes a $12 million annual fund for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to create a pathway to the clean energy industry for environmental justice populations, minority-owned and women-owned businesses, and fossil fuel workers.
The legislation directs the Department of Public Utilities (DPU), the regulator of the state's electric and natural gas utilities, to balance system safety, system security, reliability, affordability, equity, and, significantly, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The legislation impliments several measures aimed at improving gas pipeline safety, including increased fines for safety violations, provisions related to training and certifying utility contractors, and setting interim targets for companies to reduce leak rates. It also requires utilities to include an explicit value for greenhouse gas reductions when they calculate the cost-effectiveness of an offering by MassSave.
A national first, this legislation factors the "carbon sequestration" capacity of Massachusetts' natural and working lands directly into our emissions reduction plans. The legislation also provides solar incentives for businesses by exempting them from the net metering cap to allow them to install solar systems on their premises to help them offset their electricity use and save money.
The bill now returns to the Governor’s desk.
MASSACHUSETTS HOUSE APPROVES COVID-19 RELIEF LEGISLATION AND EXTENDS VOTE-BY-MAIL THROUGH JUNE
March 16, 2021
(BOSTON)- The Massachusetts House recently voted to provide additional assistance to unemployed residents and small businesses with a COVID-19 relief bill. Legislation to extend early voting and vote-by-mail provisions through June 2021 was also approved.
“With the number of COVID cases decreasing and vaccinations increasing, it finally feels like there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but we still have many COVID-19 related issues to tackle. I am pleased we were able to approve another COVID-19 relief bill to help residents and small business owners and extend vote-by-mail regulations for our upcoming local election,” said Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton). “I am particularly pleased that guranteed COVID-19 sick time was included for all workers. This is a policy I have supported since last summer and I am glad it has been approved by the House”.
The most recent COVID-19 bill provides targeted assistance to residents who are unemployed during the pandemic. The bill provides a tax credit for unemployed workers whose income falls
200% below the poverty limit so they will not need to pay taxes on these benfits. The bill also waives the tax penalty for not paying taxes on unemployment assistance. The bill also guarantees emergency paid sick time to all Massachusetts residents who contract COVID-19, need to quarantine from possible exposure, are caring for a loved one with COVID-19, or need time off for treatment, diagnosis, or vaccination.
In an effort to aid small businesses, the legislation freezes the amount businesses pay into the unemployment system per employee at the current rate. PPP loans that are forgiven will not be counted as taxable gross income for small business owners. This legislation is now before the Senate for consideration.
Legislation to extend mail-in voting and early voting options for elections held through the end of June 2021 was approved by the Legislature. The vote-by-mail provision was previously set to expire at the end of March. Additionally, the legislation requires local election officials to make reasonable efforts to grant accommodations for voters with disabilities who might have difficulty accessing a paper mail-in ballot and request an accommodation. Furthermore, cities and towns can postpone municipal elections and caucuses scheduled before June 30, 2021 until August 1, 2021. The bill was signed into law by Governor Baker on March 16th.
“As other states across our country work to disenfranchise their voters, I am proud Massachusetts is choosing to extend and enhance efforts to ensure every eligible resident can exercise their fundamental right to cast a ballot in our local elections, stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “With a record number of ballots casted in 2020, our successful vote-by-mail system increased access and protected our most vulnerable residents from putting their health at risk.”
“During this pandemic, our vote-by-mail system has proved to be an accessible and secure tool for voters to exercise their right to vote without putting their health at risk,” said Speaker of the House Ronald J. Mariano (D-Quincy). “We are glad to have passed this extension that will allow cities and towns to continue offering vote by mail and other voting options for their upcoming elections.”
STATEWIDE COALITION SUCCESSFULLY SECURES LIMITS ON PESTICIDES SHOWN TO HARM POLLINATORS
March 11, 2021
BOSTON– The state Pesticide Board Subcommittee voted this week to recategorize neonicotinoid pesticides, removing them from retail shelves. Neonicotinoid are a class of insecticides shown to harm bees and other pollinators. This is the first statewide ban of these pesticides in the nation.
For the past decade, Massachusetts has lost 45% of its bee colonies each year on average, with annual losses peaking as high as 61% in 2017. A growing body of evidence has demonstrated that neonicotinoid pesticides are contributing to the decline. A 2019 study of these pesticides commissioned by the Legislature found that “recent and more comprehensive reviews point to a large body of evidence documenting the ability of neonicotinoids to adversely affect pollinators.” The federal Environmental Protection Agency has also identified impacts on butterflies, invertebrates, and other aquatic organisms.
A bill to restrict the use of these pesticides in Massachusetts entitled,”An Act to protect Massachusetts pollinators”, has been before the Legislature in previous legislative sessions. The motion adopted by the Pesticide Subcommittee on Monday reflected key elements of “An Act to protect Massachusetts pollinators”, including the requirement to remove neonicotinoid pesticides labeled for gardening and landscaping use from stores. Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton) has been a co-sponsor and supporter of this legislation for many years.
“I am pleased that regulations to limit the use of these chemicals are now in place. I thank the constituents who brought this issue to my attention and to my colleague Representative Dykema, who was the primary sponsor of the bill and worked tirelessly to make these regualtions a reality. These regualtions are a win for the environment, pollinators, and Massachusetts farmers and gardners,” said Representative Galvin.
Since their introduction in the mid-2000s, neonicotinoids have grown to be the most widely used class of insecticides in the United States. Declining pollinator populations are of great concern to environmentalists and the agricultural sector because pollinators are essential to crop pollination. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, pollinators are crucial to the production of 1/3 of our food supply.
Since 2012, Representative Caroline Dykema of Hopkinton, who was the bill’s primary sponsor, and Attorney General Maura Healey have been joined by a broad coalition of stakeholders in advocating for these restrictions, ranging from environmental advocates to agricultural interests. The coalition includes the Massachusetts Beekeepers Association, the Northeast Organic Farming Association, MassPIRG, the Sierra Club, Environment Massachusetts, and key members of the agricultural sector including the Massachusetts Nursery and Landscape Association, and the Massachusetts Flower Growers Association.
“In the United States, pollinators like honeybees, bumble bees, butterflies, and songbirds are responsible for a third of food we consume,” said Attorney General Healey. “Statewide limits on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides will provide critical protections for pollinators and help reduce the risks these pesticides pose to our agriculture, ecosystem, and economy. I’m grateful to Representative Dykema for her leadership on this issue over the years, and to the coalition of stakeholders who have helped us raise the alarm about the serious harm neonicotinoid pesticides pose to bees and other crucial pollinators.”
“I’m thrilled that the public and our broad coalition of voices have finally been heard,” said Rep. Dykema. “The adoption of these pollinator protection measures is an important step forward in protecting our precious natural ecosystems in Massachusetts, as well as our agricultural economy. The measures adopted on Monday reflect a recognition of the harms these products pose and the broad support of the public for common-sense, science-based policies that protect our environment, our farmers, local agriculture, and the consumer. I’m also grateful for the tremendous support for this effort from my colleagues in government, including Attorney General Healey, Speaker Mariano, Secretary Theoharides, the Department of Agricultural Resources, the members of the Pesticide Subcommittee, and so many of my legislative colleagues who were persistent in their support over many years. There’s more work to do, but this is an important step forward.”
REPRESENTATIVE GALVIN REAPPOINTED AS CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON RULES
February 19, 2021
(BOSTON)- Representative Bill Galvin (D-Canton) was recently reappointed as the Chairman of the House Committee on Rules for the 2021 – 2022 legislative session. He was appointed by Speaker Mariano and confirmed by a vote of his fellow representatives.
“It is an honor to continue to serve as the Chairman of the Rules Committee, and I thank Speaker Marino and my colleagues for their support,” said Representative Galvin.
Speaker Mariano nominated several representatives for leadership and chairmanship positions that were approved by the House. Speaker Marino stated his dedication to diversity early in his speakership, and has created a leadership team that is more diverse than previous legislative sessions. The Speaker and Senate President also created three new committees, including the Joint Committee on COVID-19 and Emergency Preparedness, the Joint Committee on Racial Equity, Civil Rights and Inclusion, and the Joint Committee on Advanced Information Technology, the Internet and Cybersecurity.