$32.5b state budget called ‘positive’ for Dot, Mattapan

By 
Gintautas Dumcius, News Editor
Jul. 5, 2012

The state budget under review by Gov. Deval Patrick this week contains additional funding for statewide food pantries and State Police patrols on roads and recreation areas in Dorchester and Mattapan. It does not contain new taxes or fees.

Lawmakers, in largely bipartisan fashion, agreed to the $32.5 billion budget for fiscal year 2013 last week, sending it to the governor’s desk after a unanimous vote in the state Senate and just three dissenting votes from freshman Republicans in the House.

Legislators passed a temporary budget as they continued to deliberate on the final spending plan and provided time for Patrick, who has the option of vetoing or amending various items, to review the final bill once it reached his desk.

The budget increased by $58.7 million while in a six-member negotiating committee and drew on $350 million from the state’s rainy day fund.

Lawmakers included $10.9 million for community colleges to use for matching the state’s workforce development with its students. Patrick first pushed that issue in his state of the commonwealth address earlier this year.

The budget also includes $6.25 million for a popular youth violence prevention program known as the Shannon Grant.

The Louis D. Brown Peace Institute received its own line item, pegged at $125,000.
School aid for cities and towns rose 5.3 percent, to $4.2 billion.

“Positive things happened in this year’s budget particularly for Dorchester and Mattapan, despite difficult times,” Sen. Jack Hart, a South Boston Democrat and assistant majority leader, said in a statement. “I am pleased that I along with members of the Dorchester delegation was able to preserve district priorities.”

The all-Democratic Dorchester delegation includes Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz and state Reps. Martin Walsh, Linda Dorcena Forry, Carlos Henriquez, Russell Holmes, and Nick Collins.

According to Hart’s office, the budget also includes $125,000 for the Massachusetts Beaches Commission. Other line items include funds for community mediation at UMass Boston, restoration of funding for the Boston Home, and additional money for homeless elder programs at Boston Medical Center.

The Department of Public Health would also receive level-funding for substance abuse programs.
The budget includes electronic benefit transfer card reform and a requirement for motor vehicle registration applicants to have “proof of legal residence.”

“While if left to the devices of House Republicans this budget might look different, this document demonstrates to the residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that we as a governing body are committed to jobs, government transparency, and local aid,” House Minority Leader Brad Jones said in a statement.

The spending plan is among a flurry of bills lawmakers are ripping through as they look to July 31, the end of formal sessions.

Material from State House News Service was used in this report.

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Apologies, I was looking at an older list of co-sponsors, but thanks also to Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry for her support of the Salary Reserve, which rounds out the entire Dorchester House delegation! You can see the list of House supporters here: http://providers.org/news/entry/100reps0423

One other notable feature of this budget is the inclusion of a $20 million Salary Reserve that would provide the first annualized salary increase for human service workers -- who average $12/hr -- in five years. The increase will be modest, but hopefully it means fewer people will need to make the decision to leave human services or working two or more jobs just to make ends meet while caring for some of our most vulnerable neighbors. This is a big win for workers and the people they serve.

Many, many thanks to Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz and Reps. Martin Walsh, Carlos Henriquez, Russell Holmes, and Nick Collins for their support for this important funding!