House Ways and Means Committee Releases Budget Recommendations for FY2012

Last week, the Massachusetts Legislature took their first step in developing next year’s (FY2012) state budget when the House Committee on Ways and Means (HWM) released budget recommendations. This is basically a first draft, and it can be changed through the amendment process. For instance, any Representative can change a funding amount or the language of this draft budget by filing an amendment. We will be posting info soon about amendments affecting programs assisting homeless families and how you can help get these amendments passed. Below is a summary of these programs and how they fared in the HWM recommendations:

–       The Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program – Funded at $36 million, which is a cut from the current budget that funded MRVP at $37.1 million. Despite this, DHCD has affirmed that this funding level will maintain the vouchers of those in the program and allow for vouchers to be re-issued after they are returned.

–       Public Housing Operating Funds – Funded at $62.5 million, which is level funding compared to this year.

–       Emergency Assistance – HWM funded this program at the same level as the Governor ($97.79 million) but made some important changes to the language. It still designates shelter for families who are homeless due to a natural disaster or domestic violence and creates a program for young parents. However, it allows funding to be used to create units for families who are waiting to be placed into housing. There are many other changes, which we will discuss later this week.

–       HomeBASe – HWM funded this new program at basically the same level as the Governor – about $37 million. HWM eliminates the $8,000 cap on rental assistance per year. It replaces the cap with language stating that rent shall not exceed 80% of FMR and families shall not pay more than 35% of income towards rent and utilities.

–       Residential Assistance for Families in Transition – Level funds the program at $260,000, but does not come close to restoring the program to the FY2009 level of $5 .6 million.

–       Transitional Assistance for Families and Dependent Children – Funded at about $312.8 million, which would be a $2.3 million cut from the current fiscal year. Language does not specifically designate money for a yearly clothing allowance.

–       Childcare for low-income families – In the Governor’s recommendations, the Supported Child Care, TANF Related Child Care, and Income Eligible Child Care programs were consolidated into one line item. HWM did not choose to consolidate these programs but left them as separate line items. Combined, HWM would increase funding for these programs by over $2 million compared to the Governor and about $500,000 compared to the current budget.

This is just the first phase of the House’s process of creating budget recommendations for FY2012. We will be posting information soon about amendments. After the House is done, the Senate will create recommendations and then the Governor and the Legislature will work to create one final budget.

Click here for more detailed info about funding in the HWM recommendations for FY2012.


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