The Massachusetts House of Representatives and Senate have both finalized their initial FY18 budget proposals. Now the fight moves to the Budget Conference Committee, in which six members are tasked with working through the differences between the House and Senate budget recommendations on a variety of issues. Here’s a quick reminder about where things stand for the 3 budget areas that are a priority for MA Appleseed:
Thanks to Senator Spilka’s leadership, the statewide Housing Court expansion (line item 0036-0003) was included in the final Senate Budget proposal. Neighborhoods under attack from gentrification and families threatened with eviction need access to a housing court. District courts simply do not have the resources or expertise necessary to protect the 31% of Massachusetts residents currently without access. We cannot allow the recent traction gained on the housing court expansion to slip away. It is critical that the Conference Committee adopt Outside Sections 121-135 to enable the expansion of the Housing Court and $1 million in line item 0036-0003 to fund that expansion.
Civil Legal Aid
Low-income people experiencing civil legal problems are not eligible for court-appointed attorneys – they rely on civil legal aid programs. These programs are essential to the safety and stability of low-income individuals and families. Without it, low-income residents of Massachusetts will face crises in such areas as housing, employment, health care, immigration, and domestic violence. Due to a lack of funding, legal aid organizations are forced to turn away 64% of eligible people in need of help. The House and Senate both recommended $20 million in funding for MLAC (line item 0321-1600). We must ensure this vital funding is adopted by the Conference Committee and included in the legislature’s final FY18 budget.
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!
The important work of these programs critical to low-income families and homeless youth can only continue if the Conference Committee provides adequate funding!
Contact the conferees directly to ask them to:
- Adopt Outside Sections 131-135 in the Senate budget to enable the expansion of the Housing Court and $1 million in line item 00036-0003 to fund that expansion;
- Include $20 million in funding for civil legal aid via the MLAC line item 0321-1600;
- Adopt the Senate’s higher proposed funding level of $2.5 million for services for homeless youth (line item 4000-0007). Additional funds will help to ensure that more young people can be served.
The conferees are meeting RIGHT NOW and will continue to meet throughout the month of June to finalize the Legislature’s recommendations for the 2018 fiscal year that will begin on July 1st so it is imperative that you ACT NOW!
The House conferees are:
- Representative Brian Dempsey of Haverhill
- Representative Stephen Kulik of Worthington
617-722-2380 or 413-977-3580
- Representative Todd Smola of Warren
The Senate conferees are:
- Senator Karen Spilka of Ashland
- Senator Sal DiDomenico of Everett
- Senator Vinny deMacedo
617-722-1330 or 508-747-6500
Want to do more? Ask your State Representative and Senator to weigh in with the conferees in support of the housing courts, civil legal aid, and unaccompanied homeless youth TODAY!
Not sure who to call? Click here!
One call can make the difference. Please join us and stand up for justice for all and services for homeless youth.
Want to stay informed on the latest issues Massachusetts Appleseed is working on?
Sign up for future action alerts.