Earlier this week, the House Ways & Means Committee released its 2018 state budget proposal for the fiscal year that will begin on July 1st. The House Ways & Means (HWM) budget includes recommendations for funding for programs and services provided by the state, including many that affect youth, our schools, and the courts.
Unfortunately, some of the House Ways & Means Committee’s recommendations do not provide sufficient funding for several programs that Massachusetts Appleseed supports.
Representatives are filing amendments to the budget this week seeking increased funding for these and other programs. YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE by contacting your state representative and asking them to co-sponsor the budget amendments listed below:
- Homeless Youth
The HWM budget proposes eliminating line item 4000-0007, which currently provides $2 million for housing and services for unaccompanied youth and young adults. As a member of the Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Commission, Massachusetts Appleseed is supporting a budget amendment that would provide $4 million in funding for this line item in the fiscal year 2018 budget, as well as explicit language and funding in line item 4000-0003 for the work of the Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth and the annual Massachusetts Youth Count. Representative Jim O’Day of West Boylston plans to file two youth homelessness amendments. You can find out more about funding for unaccompanied homeless youth here.
- Safe and Supportive Schools
With a recommended appropriation of only $200,000, the proposed budget cuts funding in half for the Safe and Supportive Schools line item (7061-9612). Representative Ruth Balser of Newton is filing a budget amendment to fund this line item at $400,000. This will restore critical funding for these programs. You can find out more about funding for Safe and Supportive Schools here.
- Housing Court Expansion
While the Governor included $1 million to provide for statewide Housing Court in his FY18 budget, the House Ways & Means Committee did not include anyfunding for Housing Court expansion in its proposed budget. Representative Chris Walsh of Framingham will be filing amendments seeking $1.2 million and the authorization to start housing court expansion in January 2018. Click here for a fact sheet with more information about the importance of statewide Housing Court.
- Legal Aid Programs
While the HWM budget would provide an increase in funding for theMassachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (“MLAC”), which funds civil legal aid programs in Massachusetts, the total would be $3.5 million less than requested. Civil legal aid programs already turn away 64% of eligible cases due to lack of funding. This means that more than 54,000 eligible people are turned away each year — over 33,000 in the areas of housing and family law alone. And state funding for civil legal aid is more important now than ever since the President has proposed eliminating funding for legal aid at the federal level.Representative Ruth Balser of Newton will be filing an amendment seeing an additional $1.5 million in funding for civil legal aid. Read more about the need for increased funding for legal aid here.
Not sure who your representative is? No problem! Just enter your address here to find out!
Eager to learn more about the state budget process? Go to our website for an easy-to-understand explanation!
Representatives have only a limited time to co-sponsor budget amendments, so please contact your state representative TODAY!
Thank you for your continued support.
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