Dear Neighbor,

Recently, I joined my colleagues in the Massachusetts State Legislature in voting in support of a $48.07 billion budget for the Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22). This budget maintains fiscal responsibility, does not cut services, and makes targeted investments to address emerging needs, safeguard the health and wellness of the most vulnerable populations, and ensure residents will benefit equitably as the state recovers from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

My office was focused on delivering for every community in the First Suffolk District, prioritizing economic recovery, local non-profits and small business support, education, healthcare, environmental justice, and public health & safety.

Economic Recovery and Development

As we work to emerge from the pandemic stronger and more resilient, I remain committed to an equitable recovery and expanding opportunity. 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
  • $30.5 million for Emergency Food Assistance to ensure that citizens in need can navigate the historic levels of food insecurity caused by COVID-19
  • $7.5 million for grants to our Community Foundations to support communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic
  • $5 million for the Secure Jobs Connect program, providing job placement resources and assistance for homeless individuals
  • $15 million for the Community Empowerment and Reinvestment Grant Program
  • $6 million for Regional Economic Development Organizations to support economic growth in all regions of the state

Health and Safety

The 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.

Additional health investments include:

  • $175.6 million for substance use disorder and intervention services provided by the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services
  • $98.4 million for children’s mental health services, including $3.9M for the Massachusetts Child Psychiatric Access Program (MCPAP) and MCPAP for Moms to address mental health needs of pregnant and postpartum women
  • $25 million for Family Resource Centers (FRCs) to grow and improve the mental health resources and programming available to families
  • $56.1 million for domestic violence prevention services
  • $40.8 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

Education

As a cornerstone of the Commonwealth’s equitable recovery, this budget protects access to educational opportunities and charts a path forward for students, families, educators, and institutions. The compromise proposal fully funds the first year of the Student Opportunity Act (SOA).

Additional education investments include:

  • $5.503 billion for Chapter 70 education funding
  • $388 million for the Special Education Circuit Breaker
  • $154 million to reimburse public school districts for costs incurred when students leave to attend charter schools
  • $82.2 million for regional school transportation
  • $571 million for the University of Massachusetts, $315 million for the fifteen community colleges, and $291 million for the nine state universities

Housing

Over a year into the pandemic, the role that access to affordable housing has played in our economic recovery is clear. Recognizing this, the budget invests over $500 million in housing and homelessness services. In addition to the more than $800 million in federal resources made available to support housing stability efforts, this investment will help to keep families in their homes and support tenants and property owners during this uniquely challenging time.

Housing investments include:

  • $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 percent
  • $85 million for assistance to local housing authorities
  • $22 million for Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT)
  • $8 million for Housing Consumer Education Centers

Yours in service,

Nick Collins, State Senator