We're Almost There! Good News and Bad News in the FY18 Budget
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!
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."
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.