BOSTON –Senator Sal DiDomenico and his colleagues in the Massachusetts Senate last week restored $24.9M to the Fiscal Year 2018 budget, overriding 26 of Governor Baker’s line item vetoes, which totaled $320.6M. These veto overrides bolster valuable programs for children, families and vulnerable residents across the Commonwealth.
“In July of this year, my colleagues and I on the conference committee were put in the difficult position of having to scale back our budget in light of disappointing revenue collections,” said Senator Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett), Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “Ultimately, we released a final Fiscal Year 2018 budget that relied on conservative revenue projections, while doing our very best to protect critical investments in many of our most valuable services and programs. We were confident then that our budget was both balanced and sustainable, and after thorough analysis, we are still confident that this funding is affordable. I was proud to support these veto overrides and maintain the Legislature’s strong commitment to our Commonwealth’s working families.”
“These programs and services provide critical resources for people across the state – from housing support for young people and families, to mental health services for children to basic education and skills training for low income adults,” said Senator Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “The Senate has carefully reviewed vetoes in the context of our difficult fiscal situation and ongoing efforts on health care cost containment. I am confident that the budget remains in balance and cautiously optimistic about revenue collections and potential savings moving forward.”
“The Senate’s analysis shows that these critical services are necessary and affordable and will go a long way toward supporting working families across the Commonwealth,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst). “These investments will ensure that the right resources are in place to educate and promote the wellbeing of tomorrow’s learners and leaders, while also taking care of our most needy.”
The Senate restored funding for several programs that focus on high quality education for everyone, from children at birth to adults making midlife career transitions. Overrides include $200K for the Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative and $850K for adult basic education.
The Senate reaffirmed its commitment to combating the opioid epidemic and advancing public health across the state, restoring $1.3M for early childhood mental health clinicians and $5M for MassHealth Senior Care. In recognition of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, the Senate restored $200K for Samaritans Inc. suicide prevention, intervention, education and outreach services.
The Senate also restored $800K for pediatric palliative care, returning to the full funding of $2.6M needed to eliminate the waiting list for pediatric palliative care. The state's pediatric palliative care network provides services like counseling and case management to children "to achieve an improved quality of life and to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs experienced during the course of illness, death and bereavement.” Pediatric palliative care funding and the elimination of the waitlist for these services has been one of Senator DiDomenico’s top priorities throughout his tenure as a Massachusetts Senator, and he has continually championed this funding each budget cycle.
Other overrides include:
- $1.9M for the Massachusetts Cultural Council
- $675K for Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Services
- $250K to expand the Housing Court to serve all residents across the state