House budget process complete - on to the Senate
The Massachusetts House of Representatives finished its budget work on Wednesday, putting the finishing touches on a $32.4 Billion spending package that contained some programmatic good news for people with disabilities including:
- $10 million Family Support & Respite Restoration
- $1.5 increase in Day & Employment
- $1 million in Turning 22
- $3.6 million Transportation Restoration
Now advocates attention will shift from the House to the Senate Ways & Means Committee, where Chairman Steve Brewer will build a budget reflective of the Senate members' and their collective priorities.
Direct support workers are heartened by the public position of Senate President Therese Murray, who stated last month that she would do all that she could to promote fair treatment for human service workers, if the revenues appear to be available.
The Senate may be in a better position than the House with regard to revenue projections. House members put their budget together based upon early predictions of revenue growth and projected balances. The Senate, doing its work later in the Session is likely to have more current fiscal analysis available to its members, and thus may be able to find the necessary money to fund the $28 million request from the members of The Collaborative, including The Provider's Council, ABH and ADDP.
Many human service workers were deeply disappointed that the Salary Reserve did not receive final approval in the House Budget, noting that 99 members, more than half of that body's membership had signed on as Salary Reserve amendment co-sponsors.
While it is not sufficient consolation to direct support workers, the failure of the Salary Reserve in the House, should not signal full defeat of this effort. In fact, long time legislative watchers continue to note that there are several more opportunities to enact the Salary Reserve, including Senate Ways & Means, the Senate Floor and the eventual Conference Committee.
Thus the effort to give underpaid human service workers a raise is far from over. There are several more steps along the way.
House Passes Over Salary Reserve, But It's Not Over!
99 Members Co-Sponsor, But Effort Fails to Be Enacted on House Floor
Despite having the support of 99 Members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, Rep. David Linsky's motion to provide $28 million for a Human Services Salary Reserve failed to receive final support on the House Floor. The motion of Rep. Linsky, and 98 others, Amendment 259, was rendered mute, when it was incorporated into Consolidated Amendment B, then not listed as being funded in the overall amendment which only had a fiscal note of $3.2 million.
Does this mean the Salary Reserve is dead for this year?
NO! The effort to pass the $28 million Salary Reserve remains very much alive. It is critical to remember that the Massachusetts Legislature is a bicameral legislature and the issue has the support of Senate President Therese Murray, who pledged earlier this month to fund the Salary Reserve, if the funds can be found in the budget. Thus it is very much still alive. It is also important for human service advocates to understand that if the Salary Reserve passes the State Senate, then it will be part of the Budget Conference Committee and then an issue of negotiation between the House and Senate.
Though Monday's developments were a setback, human service advocates are urged to remember that if the Salary Reserve does come back from the Senate in Conference Committee, it will critical to maintain the support of the 99 House Members in persuading an eventual Conference Committee to act favorably.
On Tuesday, the House will continue its deliberation on the House Budget and is expected to consider Executive Office of Health and Human Service amendments this week. ADDP supported amendments still under consideration include: