Good News and Bad News in the FY18 Budget

Action Alert

We’re Almost There!

The results are in! After the Massachusetts House of Representatives and Senate finalized their initial FY18 budget proposals and the Conference Committee compromised, the budget was sent to Governor Baker’s desk. He had 10 days to approve, reduce, or veto any line items he chose; here’s what he did:

Statewide Housing Court

You did it! Governor Baker approved the housing court expansion and $1 million to begin the expansion process. We encourage you to contact Governor Baker and your legislators to thank them for their support. The housing court expansion will change the lives of 2 million people across Massachusetts facing eviction, gentrification, and other housing crises. Access will no longer be determined by whether or not someone has a car, lives in rural area, or if their town simply doesn’t have a housing court. This is a huge leap forward in the fight for Access to Justice. Thank you for your persistence and hard work advocating for the housing court expansion – it paid off!

If you want to learn more about the housing court and its role in Access to Justice, click here.

Civil Legal Aid

Unfortunately, the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation line item (0321-1600) was level funded in the Conference Committee Report, but Governor Baker did not make any further cuts! MLAC is the state’s leading provider of funds for civil legal aid – yet nearly two-thirds of qualified applicants are turned away every day due to a lack of resources. While we’d hoped for better, Governor Baker recognizing the importance of civil legal aid for thousands of Massachusetts residents is an important win!

Homeless Youth

Line item 4000-0007 funds services for unaccompanied homeless youth and young adults aged 24 and younger. The Senate budget includes $2.5 million in funding for these services, $500,000 more than the total FY17 spending and $1.96 million above the House FY18 recommendation. The Conference Committee will be in charge of reconciling that difference and deciding on a final number. Let them know that you support investing in these indispensable services for homeless youth!

Now for the bad news: Governor Baker eliminated line item 4000-0007, which allocated $675,000 for supporting homeless youth. His reasoning? That this amount appropriated by the Legislature was “too small to be effective.”

Now what?

Advocates are planning to push for a veto override and supplemental funding. This is a critical moment and homeless youth cannot wait. We need you to reach out to your legislators and let them know that cutting these funds is unacceptable.

CLICK HERE to send your legislators an email urging them to override the Governor’s veto and fund critical services for homeless youth!

Thanks to you and your tireless advocacy over the course of this budget process, we have come out the other side with some important victories. Please join us for one last push and stand up for homeless youth.

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Toward Racial Equity: Increasing Access to Boston’s Exam Schools

Action Alert

 

Boston’s exam schools, the top schools in our city, have long been held out as the merit-based means of upward mobility for the children of Boston’s working class families.

But admissions data show a troubling trend of discrimination.

The data show under-enrollment of African American and Latino students persisting across Boston’s exam schools, particularly at Boston Latin School (BLS).

Increasing access to Boston’s exams schools for students representing the diversity of the district is critical to the goal of advancing racial justice in the city. A coalition of organizations has formed to increase public understanding of the issues and engage communities across Boston in a series of collaborative conversations about creative and feasible solutions to increase access to Boston’s most prestigious public educational institutions.

A coalition of organizations has formed to increase public understanding of the issues and engage communities across Boston in a series of collaborative conversations about creative and feasible solutions to increase access to Boston’s most prestigious public educational institutions.

These organizations include:

  • JP Progressives 
  • West Roxbury/Roslindale Progressives
  • The Boston Branch of the NAACP
  • The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice
  • Massachusetts Advocates for Children
  • The ACLU of Massachusetts
  • The Black Educators Alliance of Massachusetts (BEAM) and…

MA Appleseed!

We are joining forces with these incredible organizations to host a community conversation on racial equity in Boston’s exam schools. We are co-sponsoring the first event TONIGHT,Tuesday, July 11, at the First Baptist in Jamaica Plain, located at 633 Centre Street! Come join us as we review disparities in exam school invitations (per the Broken Mirror Report),consider alternatives to our current admissions policy, determine questions we have for the Boston Public Schools, and explore initial points of consensus among attendees on admissions alternatives!

JOIN THE CONVERSATION!

First Baptist Church
633 Centre Street
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

7 PM TONIGHT!

We hope to see you there!

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MA Senate Criminal Justice Reform Bill Includes School Arrest Reforms!

Action Alert

Great news!
The Senate criminal justice reform bill that will be voted on within the next week includes key provisions we support from H.328/S.876, An Act decriminalizing non-violent and verbal student misconduct.

These important provisions eliminate the practice of arresting students for minor behavioral infractions and establish standards and accountability for police in schools. This is an issue that disproportionately affects students of color and students with disabilities, and is a crucial component of our work to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline.

Another important provision of these bills relates to data collection. Right now, the information and reporting on school arrests is scattered and incomplete. S2170 would require establishing systems for arrest data collection, reporting, and publication – similar to the reporting system for school suspensions.

I want to thank you for standing with us to push these bills to the front of the conversation! Your hard work will ensure that we keep kids in class where they belong.

But it’s not over yet!

We need you to call or email your state Senator and ask him/her to support these provisions in S2107. We’ve made it easy for you by providing a script that you can use below!

Click here to find contact information for your State Senator and then call or email them using the script below!

Script:

Hi, my name is ________ and I am calling to encourage Senator _______ to support comprehensive juvenile justice reform that prioritizes the wellbeing of students. Sections 13, 174, and 175 of Senate Bill 2170, (the omnibus criminal justice reform) support school discipline that moves away from unnecessary arrests and requires data collection and reporting of school based arrests.

These provisions would:
  1. eliminate the practice of arresting students for minor behavioral infractions;
  2. establish standards and accountability for police in schools; and
  3. require establishing systems for arrest data collection, reporting, and publication – similar to school suspensions.
These provisions are necessary because:
  • Unnecessarily arresting students ruins lives and encourages youth to drop out of school.
  • Students who drop out are more likely to go to prison, earn less income and rely more on public benefits than students who complete school.
  • Student arrests disproportionately target students of color and students with disabilities.
  • No data is currently collected or reported about school based arrests.
  • Data collection will inform us on the prevalence and reasons for arresting students.
  • Reporting school arrests would be a simple additional requirement to reporting that school districts already file with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Please support a final Criminal Justice Reform bill that includes these provisions!
Join us and call or email your State Senator today!

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