Take Action: A Budget is a Statement of Values (FY2019 House Budget)

As the saying goes, a budget is a statement of values. The FY2019 budget from the MA House, released last week, makes some modest steps forward, but in others, is just standing still (which, as we all know, is another way of moving backwards). Over the past few years, our Democratic Legislature has too often taken its cues for the budget from our Republican governor rather than from the needs of communities around the state.

In other words, we can do better.

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Legislators last week filed a litany of amendments to the budget, and we've highlighted the ones we found most important to advancing our progressive agenda for Massachusetts.

Can you email your State Representative TODAY about these amendments?

(Need to look up his/her info? Find it here.)

 

The Funding Our Communities Need and Deserve

Next week, the MA House has the opportunity to improve the values statement of the FY 2019 budget by building on the recently passed criminal legal system reform, investing in public education, protecting our environment, and building strong communities for all.

Please ask your state representative to support the following amendments related to funding increases:

Building on Criminal Legal System Reform

  • Amendment 54 (Livingstone), which would provide funding for the Resolve to Stop the Violence Program, a restorative justice program in the Department of Corrections with proven benefits for reducing recidivism
  • Amendment 219 (Livingstone), which increases funding for community-based re-entry programs from $3 million to $5 million
  • Amendment 243 (Balser), which increases funding for the Massachusetts Legal Services Corporation (MLAC), which provides access to legal information, advice, and representation, for low-income MA residents, from $20m to $22m
  • Amendment 801 (Khan), which increases the funding for Juvenile Court Clinics, which provide mental health evaluation, consultation, and liaison services for children and families in the juvenile court system, from $3.5m to almost $10m

Investing in our Public Schools

  • Amendment 156 (Higgins), which would provide much-needed funding for public colleges and universities
  • Amendment 952 (Ultrino) / 977 (Coppinger), which would increase charter school tuition reimbursements for sending public school districts from $90m to $170m so that our public schools have the funding they need

Protecting Our Environment

  • Amendment 864 (Walsh, Chris), which increases the funding for the Department of Environmental Protection’s hazardous waste clean-up program by $2m

Building Strong Communities for All

  • Amendment 269 (Connolly), which would increase housing voucher rent caps to current fair market rents, get vouchers out faster, set aside a portion for extremely low-income households, and increase funding for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program overall
  • Amendment 640 (Ferrante), which increases funding for the Massachusetts Emergency Food Assistance Program by $2m to $20m
  • Amendment 743 (Peake), which would increase funding for Regional Transportation Agencies from 80m to $88m
  • Amendment 867 (Garlick), which would boost funding for Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Prevention services by $3.5 million, to $37.6 million, to increase access to culturally and linguistically appropriate crisis intervention and safety planning, legal services, and advocacy
  • Amendment 889 (Provost), which freezes the income tax at 5.1 percent. Automatic declines in the state income tax mean billions of dollars of lost revenue each year and less money to fund vital programs across the Commonwealth.
  • Amendment 950 (Koczera), which would increase funding for adult education and English classes (essential for new immigrants) by $1.9 million, to $34.5 million


Yes, You Can Enact Policy Through the Budget

The budget, importantly, is not just about appropriating funding. Legislators can also choose to enact policy through the budget. The following amendments would enact policy changes that would strengthen our public education system, treat all residents with dignity and respect, and foster safe, accessible, and sustainable communities:

  • Amendment 246 (Garballey), which would revise our outdated education funding formula along the lines of the the Foundation Budget Review Commission recommendations
  • Amendment 715 (Moran, Mike), which would ensure that immigrant students receive in-state tuition
  • Amendment 781 (Khan), which would set out punishment for police officers who have sex with individuals in police custody
  • Amendment 906 (Rogers, David), which requires the state to issue a report on measures necessary--including new staffing, monitoring, permitting and other measures--to address water pollution and comply with the federal Clean Water Act
  • Amendment 924 (Higgins), which would create new consumer protections for student loan borrowers and allow state to crack down on unscrupulous lenders
  • Amendment 925 (Walsh, Chris), which would allow local governments and regions of the state to, with local government and voter approval, levy taxes to fund transportation initiatives
  • Amendment 1005 (Muratore), which would provide initial funding and regulatory authority for the state to implement decommissioning of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station
  • Amendment 1343 (Decker), which would mandate at least 20 minutes of recess for elementary school students
  • Amendment 1361 (Decker), which would lift the “cap on kids.” The “cap on kids”/”family cap”  denies welfare support to children conceived while the family receives assistance. 8,700 Massachusetts children are currently harmed by this policy that many other states have already repealed

It’s Also Important to Prevent Bad Things

Finally, several amendments have been filed to roll back civil rights and civil liberties protection. Our state legislators need to OPPOSE these.

  • Amendments 113 (Lombardo), 227 (Diehl), and 347 (Lyons), which would would create even broader authority for police to detain immigrants or punish the 31 cities and towns that have adopted measures to limit police participation in immigration enforcement
  • Amendment 508 (Jones), which would attempt to pass Governor Baker’s unconstitutional proposal to overturn the Lunn decision via the budget
  • Amendments 515 (Jones) and 1174 (Markey), which would expand state wiretap powers to “listen in” on a wider range of personal communication
  • Amendment 979 (Howitt), which would curtail the right to free expression, namely the use of economic boycotts against foreign governments (Think: the boycott movement against apartheid South Africa)

 

Over to You

The House will start voting on amendments NEXT WEEK, so it's important to take action soon. Email your State Representative TODAY about these amendments, and give them a follow-up call about the ones most important to you.

[Want to read the text of these amendments by yourself? You can here: https://malegislature.gov/Budget/FY2019/HouseDebate/Amendments]

 

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