Photo from mass.gov
The 7th of 9 steps in the State Budget process: The Governor’s Action. The Conference Committee released their $$38.1 billion in budget recommendations on July 7th. The Governor had 10 days to review their proposal and make any vetoes – to dollar amounts and language – and sign the budget. Today, the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget was signed into law, with $162 million getting vetoed, including $38 million in earmarks. For the first time in the last 4 cycles, the budget does not draw on the state’s rainy day fund.
What got the red pen?
screen shot from mass.gov
The Governor vetoed $3 Million from the $91M recommended by the Legislature for the MRVP program, stating, “ I am reducing this item to the amount projected to be necessary”
[Digression] While this is blanket language used to explain many funding reductions, it is hard to fathom any new dollar for housing subsidies to not be necessary. We have over 4,000 families in shelters and motels; a well documented shortage of affordable housing across the Commonwealth; an ever growing gap between wages and rent, and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development just released a study highlighting housing subsidies as the best tool to combat homelessness.
In addition, the Governor vetoed:
- $2M in funding for unaccompanied homeless youth
- $370,000 in earmarks in the DHCD Administration Line
- $650,000 for the Housing and Consumer Education Centers
- Language the HomeBASE and MRVP line items, citing administrative burdens
- The Secure Jobs Line Item relative the mandate to target MRVP vouchers
- Outside sections relative to the Housing Stabilization and Preservation Trust Fund, changing the source of some of the funding from the General Fund to Masshousing
The Governor also filed a Supplemental Budget to close out FY15 spending and add funding for certain initiatives in FY16. Click here to read the full letter. You will see in the letter that he recommends $5M for homelessness prevention for homeless families. This is for the trust fund at the Executive Office of Health and Human Services that he initially recommended funding at $20M. The Conference Committee budget included $1M. In addition, the Supp Budget includes the eligibility restrictions that the Governor proposed in Step 1 of the Budget Process. The Supp Budget is a proposal to the Legislature and any changes and funding is subject to legislative approval.
What happens now?
The legislature will have an opportunity to override the Governor’s vetoes to restore funding and language. You can take action by calling your legislator. The message is simple: “My name is _________, and I am calling from the Senator/Representative’s District. I am concerned about the Governor’s veto to the MRVP Line Item, 7004-9024. Please advocate to override this veto”
We encourage you to add any other issues that may be important to you in your phone call.
We will be sending out a call to action and additional information- as well as a full analysis of the language and supplemental budget- so make sure you are signed up for our action alerts. To find your legislators, please click here.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. And if you have any comments, don’t hesitate to leave them below or on our Facebook page. Thank you for staying engaged in the budget process and for taking action to ensure it has the proper supports for families across Massachusetts!