It’s over! The formal session of the Legislature ended at midnight on Tuesday, which means, although the Legislature will continue to meet in informal sessions, action on the most remaining controversial legislation will be tabled until January 2019.
So what are the results? Read more below about how our priorities fared in the FY19 budget and what happened with a bill to break down barriers for homeless youth.
The FY19 State Budget
The state budget is incredibly important to the people in need we fight these legislative battles on behalf of. We’ve seen what happens when funding disappears – just last year, a Cambridge shelter serving LGBTQ youth came within inches of closing its doors for good.
Not this time.
I couldn’t be more pleased to report that all – yes, ALL – of the priorities you helped us fight for made it in!
You raised your voice in the House. You emailed your Senators. You pushed the Conference Committee. You picked up the phone and called Governor Baker. You took action, and it worked.
Civil Legal Aid: Funded at $21.04 million, a mere $2 million shy of MLAC’s initial request and a $3 million increase over last year. That’s $3 million more going to provide critical free legal services to those who cannot afford an attorney!
The Housing Court Expansion: Fully funded at $2.6 million, a huge win for expanding access to justice into areas of the state where people need it most!
Language Requiring Schools to Publish Meal Charge Policies: Included, and an important step forward in the ongoing fight to end lunch shaming and protect low-income students.
Support for Homeless Youth: Funded at 3.3 million, a huge increase from last year!
Task Force to Tackle Language Access in Schools: Language was included in the budget to establish this task force which will help to ensure schools are fulfilling their obligation to communicate effectively with limited English proficient parents about their child’s education!
For joining us in this series of budget battles and sticking by us for months, thank you.
For standing up and demanding a better, fairer Massachusetts, thank you.
For these remarkable victories, thank you.
Homeless ID Bill
Now the bad news.
Despite our best efforts, Senate Bill 2568, An Act to provide identification to homeless youth and families, did not pass before the end of the formal legislative session. This bill is a common sense reform measure that would make it easier for homeless youth to obtain state identification.
Without state ID, homeless youth cannot apply for a job, enroll in education programs, get a library card, or accomplish a number of other important, everday tasks. This bill would have eliminated the $25 fee and eased the path towards getting a state ID for homeless applicants. It could have made a big difference in the lives of homeless youth around the state.
We’re disappointed the Legislature was unable to pass Senate Bill 2568 before the formal session ended. But we aren’t giving up. This bill passed the Senate unanimously and we still have hope that, working with our community partners, we can get it passed by the House during informal sessions. Stay tuned as we work to make this happen!
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