For Immediate Release
July 13, 2020
Contact: Natalie Higgins, NatalieMarieHiggins@gmail.com, 978-602-3772
MASSACHUSETTS VOTERS FOR ANIMALS ENDORSES STATE REP. NATALIE HIGGINS IN HER RE-ELECTION BID
The Massachusetts Voters for Animals endorsed State Representative Natalie Higgins (4th Worcester) in her re-election campaign. Mass Voters for Animals works to elect the most humane-minded candidates to public office in Massachusetts so that these legislators can enact laws and policies to protect animals. In this session, Rep. Higgins introduced H.800 to regulate the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits by breeders, targeting the worst “puppy mills” in the country that continue to sell to Massachusetts pet stores.
“Mass Voters for Animals is delighted to again be endorsing Natalie Higgins because we feel she stands out as a truly compassionate person who cares about animal welfare and would continue to be a strong advocate for the prevention of cruelty,” said Marge Peppercorn, spokesperson for the Mass Voters for Animals Steering Committee.
“I began my animal welfare advocacy as co-chair of the Animal Legal Defense Fund at Northeastern University School of Law," said Rep. Higgins. "Nearly a decade later, I am so proud to continue my advocacy with Mass Voters for Animals in the State House.”
State Representative Natalie Higgins is currently serving her second term as State Representative in the 4th Worcester District, which consists entirely of the city of Leominster. Rep. Higgins is a former nonprofit director and attorney, and has focused on being accessible and available to Leominster residents with early morning and evening office hours. Her priorities in the State House include fighting for high-quality public education from pre-school to college, bringing down the cost of healthcare, supporting working families, and ending sexual and domestic violence.
Massachusetts Nurses Association Endorses State Representative Natalie Higgins in Re-election for 4th Worcester District
For Immediate Release
Contact: Joe Markman, 781-571-8175, Natalie Higgins, 978-602-3772
Date: October 26, 2018
MASSACHUSETTS NURSES ASSOCIATION ENDORSES STATE REPRESENTATIVE NATALIE HIGGINS IN RE-ELECTION FOR 4th WORCESTER DISTRICT
The Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA), the state’s largest union and professional association for registered nurses and health care professionals, announces its endorsement of State Representative Natalie Higgins in her bid to retain her seat in the 4th Worcester District.
“Since her election to the legislature in 2016, Natalie has worked closely with the MNA and nurses in her district to stand up for patient safety and stand against those who seek to put profits ahead of patients,” said Donna Kelly-Williams, RN and president of the MNA. “The MNA is thrilled to announce our support for her reelection campaign and we look forward to continuing our close working relationship when she returns to Beacon Hill”.
Representative Higgins had the MNA’s support when she first ran in 2016 and has been a champion for health care access while serving in the state legislature. This spring, she fought to tie new funding for community hospitals to those hospitals maintaining essential health services. Representative Higgins recently joined several of her colleagues in speaking out against the closure of UMass Memorial HealthAlliance Clinton Hospital’s Burbank Urgent Care Center and Pulmonary and Cardiac Rehab services on the Leominster Hospital Campus, and also the elimination of the inpatient pediatric beds at the Leominster campus. Hospital administrators opted to close the beds despite that pediatric services there were deemed essential by the state’s Department of Public Health.
Higgins is also a vocal advocate for Yes on Question 1 on the November ballot which would set a safe limit on the number of patients a nurse can care for at one time in acute care hospitals.
“As a State Representative from a gateway city with a community hospital, I am deeply concerned about my community’s access to healthcare services,” said Higgins. “I am proud to stand with my local nurses and the MNA to fight for essential services to remain in our community and for safe patient limits at all of our hospitals across the Commonwealth.”
Higgins currently serves on Joint Committee on Higher Education, the Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Businesses, the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use, and Recovery, and the House Committee on Intergovernmental Affairs and Technology.
The 4th Worcester legislative district consists of the City of Leominster.
You don't have to wait until November 6th to cast your vote for Natalie Higgins for State Representative in the 4th Worcester District (Leominster).
You can vote early at the Leominster City Hall (25 West Street) between Monday October 22nd - Friday November 2nd at the following times:
Monday October 22nd - 8:30AM-4:00PM
Tuesday October 23rd - 8:30AM-4:00PM
Wednesday October 24th - 8:30AM-4:00PM
Thursday October 25th - 8:30AM-8:00PM
Friday October 26th - 8:30AM-4:00PM
Saturday October 27th - 8:00AM-12:00PM
Monday October 29th - 8:30AM-4:00PM
Tuesday October 30th - 8:30AM-4:00PM
Wednesday October 31st - 8:30AM-4:00PM
Thursday November 1st - 8:30AM-5:30PM
Friday November 2nd - 8:30AM-4:00PM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 13, 2018
Contact: State Representative Natalie Higgins, Natalie.Higgins@mahouse.gov, 978-602-3772
House Reflects on 190th Session Accomplishments
Focus on Supporting Communities, Fighting the Opioid Epidemic,
Reducing Gun Violence, and Helping Vulnerable Residents
(BOSTON) – House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D – Winthrop) joined with State Representative Natalie Higgins (D - Leominster) and her colleagues in the Legislature to mark the end of the legislative session and highlight accomplishments of the productive 2017-2018 session that included the passage of several landmark bills. Over the past two years, the Legislature passed major bills relating to criminal justice, gun safety, those struggling with addiction, women’s rights, economic development, veterans benefits, consumer data protections, and energy and the environment.
“We’ve had a productive and successful session the results of which provide real-world and balanced solutions to save lives, support our communities, empower working families and businesses as well as address the effects of climate change,” said Speaker DeLeo. “I’m pleased that amid a charged national political atmosphere, we were able to agree to a fiscally-responsible budget and a bundle of legislation that serves our vulnerable residents and keeps our cities and towns safe by supporting children, first responders, veterans and small business.”
“I am proud of the work we have done together to lift up the Leominster community, with support to our youngest and most senior members and their families,” said Rep. Natalie Higgins. “
Resting on a longstanding practice of strong fiscal management, the House passed two balanced state budgets – with landmark investments in early education, benefits for low-income families, workforce development, housing as well as programs to prevent and treat opioid addiction. These included no new major taxes. This year the budget surplus increased the state’s Stabilization Fund, which is expected to surpass $2 billion in Fiscal Year 2019.
With the tragic events resulting from mass shootings unfolding across the country, the House took action twice this session to pass Massachusetts’ already nation-leading policies designed to promote gun safety. This session Massachusetts took another leap forward with new laws aimed at preventing those individuals who pose a risk of causing bodily injury to themselves or others from owning or possessing a firearm as well as providing them with crisis intervention, mental health, substance abuse and counseling services. In addition the House passed legislation banning the sale, purchase or ownership of a “bump stock” device, which is designed to increase a weapon’s rate of fire and mimic automatic gun fire. These laws build on the House’s landmark 2014 gun legislation, which led to Massachusetts being found one of the safest in the nation.
While focused on protecting our residents from gun violence, the House took action to address the opioid crisis with sweeping initiatives to promote behavioral health for adults and children and measures to prevent substance use disorders. The legislation takes measures including expanding access to non-opioid treatment options for pain management; establishing grants to benefit substance exposed newborn children and prohibiting discounts and rebates for certain prescription opioids. It also took steps to improve the quality of patient care at treatment facilities, expands access to Narcan and increases training for law enforcement to respond to behavioral health crisis.
This past spring the House passed the most comprehensive criminal justice reform legislation in a generation to establish a more equitable system by supporting our youngest and most vulnerable residents, reducing recidivism, increasing judicial discretion, and enhancing public safety. As part of the reforms, the House also acted on its long-standing legacy of supporting the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable children by raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility from age seven to age twelve and decriminalizes first offense misdemeanors.
The reforms also bolster the House’s multi-tiered approach to combating the opioid epidemic by creating the nation’s strongest law for trafficking Carfentanil and by strengthening the Fentanyl trafficking law. The legislation requires district attorneys to create pre-arraignment diversion programs for military personnel, veterans, and individuals with addiction or mental health issues. It removes the age restriction to participate in a diversion program, as they are currently only available to defendants 22 and under.
The legislation also includes the following provisions.
Building off its tradition of protecting women’s rights, the House passed landmark legislation to guarantee reasonable accommodations and safety measures for pregnant workers. With an uncertain future for federal action on reproductive rights, the Legislature took decisive action to protect the rights for women across the Commonwealth by passing legislation to make Massachusetts the first state in the nation to repeal outdated state laws directed at limiting a woman’s right to make decisions about her own reproductive health.
Balancing the needs of workers and small businesses, the House passed legislation to raise the minimum wage; create a framework for paid family and medical leave for most workers; and to establish a permanent sales tax holiday.
Facing an unprecedented number of data breaches across the nation from national credit reporting entities and retailers, the House passed a bill to put into place enhanced protections for consumers against data breaches, making it easier for consumers to monitor their credit and request security freezes on data. The bill requires entities that have been breached to limit fees associated with data breach protections as well as requires transparency from breached companies and their affiliates. In addition, breached entities are required to provide more detailed consumer notifications about data breaches and options to help consumers better protect themselves.
Recognizing the critical needs of the Commonwealth’s first responders, the House passed a bundle of bills aimed at supporting enhanced police training, provisions to protect firefighters as they recover from work-related cancer illnesses, and providing access to confidential mental health services for those responders recovering from traumatic events.
The House also passed legislation to spur economic development across the Commonwealthwith investments including public infrastructure projects like street and sewer improvements and for multi-family housing and mixed-use development, and transportations in communities across the Commonwealth. The legislation also includes investments to boost manufacturing innovation; grow jobs in coastal communities; support technology development and innovation; and expand career technical training programs. The legislation also establishes and apprenticeship tax credit for employers and limits the enforcement of and sets standards for non-compete agreements in Massachusetts. The legislation funds initiatives that help small businesses grow and establishes tax credits for businesses that occupy vacant storefronts in downtown areas.
This session the House took action to foster an inclusive and just elections process by establishing automatic voter registration.
In response to calls for increased awareness of students of how the U.S. democratic system works at the local, state and federal government levels, the House passed a bill requiring schools to incorporate civics education with a focus on hand-on learning voting activities and media literacy.
As part of an ongoing effort to protect the health of our youth, the Massachusetts Legislature raised the age to purchase tobacco products to 21 or older.
Massachusetts is a known national leader in environmental policy and this year’s environmental bond bill bolsters that position by dedicating $2.4 billion to improving climate change resiliency and adaptation; enhancing environmental and natural resource protection; and investing in parks and recreational assets. The legislation passed ensures that Massachusetts can continue to plan for global warming and a changing climate, including along vulnerable coastlines with $225 million in community investment grants, $100 million for energy and environment coastal infrastructure, and $54 million in rural investments.
Finally, this year the House passed a bill to enhance certain benefits for Massachusetts veteransincluding increases to assistance with funeral and burial expenses; relating to property taxes, and designating April 5 as Gold Star Wives Day and the last Sunday in September to Gold Star Mothers and Families Day.
Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Highlights
Children and families
State Police Oversight
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: State Rep. Natalie Higgins, Natalie.Higgins@mahouse.gov, 978-602-3772
Massachusetts Legislature Passes $2.4 Billion Environmental Bond Bill
August 1, 2018 (BOSTON) – Representative Natalie Higgins (D-Leominster) joined her colleagues in the Legislature who voted today to pass a $2.4 Billion Environmental Bond Bill focused on improving climate change resiliency and adaptation; enhancing environmental and natural resource protection; and investing in parks and recreational assets.
The legislation passed today ensures that Massachusetts can continue to plan for global warming and a changing climate, including along our vulnerable coastlines.
“Climate change is a real and present threat to Massachusetts, and we must treat it as a priority,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “These investments in our communities, coastlines, and in overall climate resiliency highlight our joint focus with the House on preparing Massachusetts’ infrastructure for the future, and safeguarding our residents from potential environmental disasters. I thank the conferees for their dedication to preparing this vital legislation.”
“These investments protect critical natural resources, preserve our parks and recreational areas and aim to make our Commonwealth is more resilient to the threats of climate change for years to come,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “I’m proud to work with my colleagues in the House and Senate to fund these important initiatives.”
Among other spending, the bill appropriates:
Today’s bill also requires the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security to coordinate and strengthen the Commonwealth’s climate resilience and prepare for climate change impacts; publish an integrated state climate adaptation and hazard mitigation plan every five years; and establish frameworks for state agency and municipal vulnerability assessments to be included in the state plan.
Additionally, the legislation creates and funds a Global Warming Solutions Trust Fund to fund the implementation of the Global Warming Solutions Act, the state’s Clean Energy and Climate Plan, and state and local strategies for climate adaptation.
The Environmental Bond Bill also emphasizes the importance of public and parkland throughout the Commonwealth, appropriating $150,000,000 to tree planting, urban and suburban parks, EEA land acquisition, and trails.
“As Chairman of the Environment Committee, I am proud to say this bill is an amazing example of bipartisan effort and compromise,” said Representative Smitty Pignatelli (D-Lenox), Chair Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. “I’m grateful to Speaker DeLeo for including me in this conference process, and to my colleague, Representative Nangle for his leadership and understanding while we championed the issues we believed were most necessary for the environmental benefit of the Commonwealth. I understand neither side got everything it wanted out of the compromise, but I believe we’ve come out with a strong bond bill, funding necessary projects and environmental investments across the state, including an agricultural estate tax credit, integrated state climate adaptation plans, and an investment in preserving our cities and towns. This bond bill aims to preserve our land, restore dams and seawalls, and support various community investment grants which will all have lasting effects on our communities.”
Other highlights of the bill include the creation of the Agricultural Innovation Fund to finance grants for the Commonwealth’s agricultural and cranberry producers; and the Fishing Innovation Fund for the design, construction and modification of commercial fishing vessel; and for research, development, acquisition and deployment of advanced or innovative technologies such as sonar, satellite, radar and radio communications.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: State Rep. Natalie Higgins, Natalie.Higgins@mahouse.gov, 978-602-3772
House Passes Bill Establishing Campus Climate Surveys at Higher Education Institutions
Surveys promote safer campuses with published results; expert task force to oversee the effort
July 31, 2018 (BOSTON) – Representative Natalie Higgins (D-Leominster) joined her colleagues in the House to pass legislation requiring Massachusetts higher education institutions to conduct surveys assessing the campus climate relative to sexual misconduct every two years.
With the goal of fostering safe and inclusive campus environments, the surveys – known as campus climate surveys – will assist institutions with gathering sexual misconduct data, including the number of incidents of misconduct as well as provide information about student awareness of campus policies and procedures, and help campuses identify at-risk groups.
“Massachusetts is home to thousands of college students and this bill will promote safer campus life and build transparency into the reporting of occurrences of sexual misconduct at institutions across the Commonwealth,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “Thank you to Representatives Scibak, Ehrlich and Farley-Bouvier for their work to move this forward and to the students who helped to advocate for this important measure.”
“Sexual violence and misconduct continue to be a problem on many college campuses,” said Representative John Scibak (D-South Hadley), Chair of the Committee on Higher Education. “While several of our colleges have led the way in utilizing climate surveys to address the issue, not all institutions have done so. This bill, which was championed by students across the Commonwealth, is an important step in addressing this problem and ensuring the safety and well-being of students on all of our campuses.”
“I want to thank the Speaker and Chairs Sánchez and Scibak for their support in passing this critical legislation to protect Massachusetts students,” said Representative Lori Ehrlich (D-Marblehead), Chair of the Committee on Export Development. “I am proud to have filed and championed this bill. Every campus is different in regards to the prevalence and nature of sexual violence -- but what is true of all of them is that all students deserve a safe place to learn, study, and grow, as well as transparency from school administrations about sexual violence.”
The legislation requires universities and colleges use model surveys based on the recommendations provided by a 21-member task force, which is co-chaired by the Commissioner of Higher Education and the Commissioner of Public Health.
The task force is charged with developing a model climate misconduct survey based on peer-reviewed research for statewide distribution to higher education institutions. Its members include the Attorney General, the Secretary of Public Safety and Security, representatives of rural and urban rape crisis centers, the Victim Rights Law Center, Jane Doe Inc., the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth, public and private higher education institutions, survey analysis researchers, and students. The task force is due to complete its work by March 31, 2019 and the legislation would take effect on Aug. 1, 2019.
The legislation requires that the surveys are anonymous with no identifying information collected and that the results be published on institution websites 120 days after the completion of the survey.
Under the legislation colleges and universities may use their own campus-specific surveys if approved.
The bill now moves to the Senate for its consideration.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: State Rep. Natalie Higgins, Natalie.Higgins@mahouse.gov, 978-602-3772
Legislature Passes Civics Education Curriculum
July 30, 2018 (BOSTON) – Representative Natalie Higgins (D-Leominster) joined her colleagues in the Legislature to enact S.2631, An Act to Promote and Enhance Civic Engagement. This legislation is the result of years of advocacy and collaboration between bipartisan House and Senate legislators, and it will implement a civics education curriculum in all Massachusetts public schools.
The legislation promotes a hands-on and experiential approach to fostering civic engagement. It incorporates project-based learning components, encourages the instruction of civic competencies – including news and media literacy – and provides extracurricular civic-participation opportunities.
“I am incredibly proud that we have passed this legislation because it is so important that young men and women are given the opportunity to learn how to affect change in their community,” said Senate President Emerita Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester). “This civics curriculum is a long-term investment in the future of our Commonwealth. When we begin to educate our children about civic responsibility at a young age, we foster the growth and development of our nation’s future leaders.”
“Civic engagement is at the heart of our democracy and this legislation will empower young people with the information and tools to get involved in their government from their hometowns to Washington, DC,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “Thank you to Senate President Chandler and my colleagues in the House and Senate who worked diligently to put this in place for our students.”
The bill is now before the Governor for his consideration.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: State Rep. Natalie Higgins, Natalie.Higgins@mahouse.gov, 978-602-3772
Legislature Passes New Data Breach Protections for Consumers
Provisions increase transparency, improve credit monitoring and provide better consumer notifications
July 27, 2018 (BOSTON) – Representative Natalie Higgins (D-Leominster) joined her colleagues in the House and Senate to announce legislation enhancing protections for consumers against data breaches.
The bill includes provisions that make it easier for consumers to monitor their credit, request security freezes on data, limit fees associated with data breach protections as well as requires transparency from breached companies and their affiliates.
The bill requires breached entities to provide more detailed consumer notifications about data breaches and options to help consumers better protect themselves.
“This bill ensures that Massachusetts residents will have the right to more control over their personal data, and will provide essential protections for consumers,” said Senate President Emerita Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester). “I believe that with this bill, Massachusetts establishes itself as a model for the rest of the country, and I thank our partners in the House for their work on this vital legislation.”
“This bill empowers consumers to take charge of monitoring their credit and to protect their personal data against harmful data breaches,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, (D-Winthrop). “We have taken important steps to protect privacy and increase the requirements for transparency by those entities that are breached. Thank you to Representatives Chan and Benson and our colleagues in the House and Senate for their work on these important issues.”
“We are proud to have Massachusetts continue to lead in providing comprehensive consumer protections in cases of security breaches,” said Representative Tackey Chan (D-Quincy), Chair of the Committee on Consumer Protection. “Each of us entrust our information to others to protect and this legislation gives consumers new resources and greater awareness of the tools they can take advantage of to protect their credit. Through the dedicated efforts of the entire committee and conference members, we were able to work through a very comprehensive bill involving federal and state regulations and are extremely proud of the legislation passed today.”
“As an advocate for consumer protection, I filed legislation last year to make it easier for victims of identity theft to freeze their credit reports,” said Representative Jennifer Benson (D-Lunenburg). “In the wake of the Equifax breach, I worked with the Attorney General and advocates to strengthen the bill with further protections. Consumers in Massachusetts will now be empowered to take control of their credit data, and they’ll have more tools at their disposal to help them recover more quickly from data breaches.”
Highlights of the legislation include:
The bill now moves to the Governor for his consideration.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: State Rep. Natalie Higgins,
July 23, 2018
Massachusetts Legislature Passes Bill to Protect Women’s Reproductive Rights
(BOSTON) – Representative Natalie Higgins (D-Leominster) joined her colleagues in the Legislature to pass legislation repealing unconstitutional laws that impose criminal penalties for abortion and contraception in Massachusetts. With an uncertain future for federal action on landmark reproductive rights, Massachusetts took decisive action to protect the rights for women across the Commonwealth.
“It’s critical that we protect the rights of Massachusetts women so they may continue to make their own choices regarding their health,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D – Winthrop). “This action takes outdated and misguided laws off the books and makes clear where the Commonwealth stands on reproductive and women’s rights.”
“With all of the uncertainty at the federal level, I am proud to join my colleagues in removing these archaic laws off the books in Massachusetts to ensure Massachusetts residents are protected,” said Rep. Natalie Higgins.
“I’ve been concerned about the impact of archaic laws remaining on the books since the fight for marriage equality,” said Majority Whip Byron Rushing (D – South End). “During the fight for marriage, Governor Romney demanded city and town clerks enforce the ‘1913 law’ that prevent marriages in Massachusetts if they were not legal in the couple’s home state. This law was originally used to prevent interracial couples from coming to Massachusetts to be legally married here. After decades in obscurity, and not being enforced – but still ‘on the books’ – it was then used to prohibit marriage for same sex couples. It is critical that we take all archaic laws off of our books, because we never know how an old, hateful law will be used in new, hateful ways in the future.”
“There have been repeated attempts to limit a woman’s right to make decisions about her healthcare choices, contraception and access to care,” said Representative Claire D. Cronin (D-Easton), Chair of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. “We must ensure that if this occurs, in Massachusetts we have taken the necessary steps to protect the right to choice, and access to healthcare and information necessary to make private medical decisions, “said Representative Claire Cronin, House Chair of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary.
Five of the Massachusetts laws the bill repealed were previously deemed unconstitutional under several U.S. Supreme Court rulings including Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972), Roe v. Wade (1973), and Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health (1983). The legislation also repeals the requirement that a person be married in order to receive contraceptives.
The bill now goes to the Governor for his consideration.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Rep. Natalie Higgins, Natalie.Higgins@mahouse.gov, 978-602-3772
July 20, 2018
Legislature Passes Balanced Budget; Targets Local Aid, Education and Opioid Epidemic
Support Communities, Strengthens Workforce, and Protects Most Vulnerable Residents
(BOSTON) – Representative Natalie Higgins (D-Leominster) joined their colleagues in the Legislature to enact a $41.88 billion Massachusetts state budget for FY19.
The budget features no new taxes or fees and directs a $367 million deposit into the Stabilization Fund to ensure our state’s fiscal health and protect Massachusetts’ future. It also prioritizes our cities and towns, education and those most in need of help.
“This budget demonstrates a commitment to our constituents and is a testament to the fiscal strength of our Commonwealth,” said Senate President Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester). “With this funding we are supporting our children’s education, the transit systems in our cities and towns, and underserved youth and families across Massachusetts.”
“This is a fiscally-sound budget that addresses our key priorities,” said Speaker DeLeo, (D – Winthrop). “I am particularly proud of our investments in early education and care, the stabilization fund, criminal justice bill and our decision to lift the cap on benefits for children. I congratulate Chairman Sanchez and my colleagues in the Legislature for working together on this important legislation.”
“This budget reflects our ongoing commitment to the people of the Commonwealth, including our children, working families and the most vulnerable, while also maintaining fiscal responsibility,” stated Senator Karen E. Spilka, Chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee (D-Ashland). “We take important steps towards supporting families through the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), expanding access to the economy through the creation of a pilot program to promote employment in state contracts with persons with disabilities, and protecting unaccompanied immigrant youth. We also honor our responsibility to be diligent fiscal stewards through substantial deposits to the Stabilization Fund and the creation of a tax expenditure review commission to ensure our tax payers are receiving worthwhile returns on their investments. I am most proud, however, of our record investment in K-12 education, which is the foundation of our shared success.”
“Together, the House and Senate have passed a budget that invests in programs that make a difference in people’s lives on a daily basis,” said Representative Jeffrey Sánchez, Chair of the House Committee on Ways & Means (D-Jamaica Plain). “From healthcare and housing to re-entry programs and education, this is a budget that moves Massachusetts forward. It builds on our strengths so the economy grows for the benefit of all our residents, no matter where they are in their lives. I’m grateful to Speaker DeLeo, my Senate counterpart Chair Karen Spilka, and to all House members for the opportunity to work with them in crafting this conference committee budget.”
“This budget makes impressive yet prudent investments in education, health care, housing, local aid, mental health, and seniors,” said Senator Joan B. Lovely (D-Salem), Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “These investments reflect the priorities of the conferees as well as all the Senators who shared their insights with the Conference Committee. I want to thank Chairwoman Spilka and the conferees for their hard work throughout this process and their dedication to the people of the Commonwealth.”
“It was an honor to serve on the FY19 budget conference committee with Chairman Sanchez, Representative Smola, and the Senate conferees,” said Representative Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington). “I am proud that the final conference committee budget allocates record levels of funding for addressing the opioid crisis, improving education and local aid, and ensuring that environmental agencies have adequate resources to do the important work of protecting our environment. The Department of Environmental Protection is funded at over $29 million. Additionally, there were strong investments made in some of our most important agricultural programs, including an increase in the Dairy Farm Tax Credit from $4 million to $6 million annually, $4 million in funding for the Healthy Incentives Program, and an initial capitalization of $100,000 for the Massachusetts Food Trust. This conference committee budget is balanced, fiscally responsible, and reflects the priorities of the citizens of the Commonwealth.”
“I am happy to have been able to work with my fellow members of the conference committee to ensure that the Legislature produced a fiscally responsible budget that lives within our means,” said Senator Vinny deMacedo (R-Plymouth). “I am especially proud that we will be adding $271 million to the rainy day fund, by the end of 2019 we should have close to $2 billion in the rainy day fund, the highest it has been since the crash of 2008. We were able to accomplish this without increasing any taxes or fees.”
"This budget includes significant investments in our communities and in education," said Representative Todd Smola (R-Springfield). "We have also committed to building up our reserves by putting additional money into our stabilization fund, which will help improve our financial position going forward. This is a solid budget that is the result of a careful negotiation with a focus on our cities and towns and the people of the Commonwealth."
“I am proud of the investments in our communities we have made in this budget,” said Representative Higgins. “Through this budget, I was able to secure additional funding for two important programs in Leominster -- the Leominster Substance Abuse Task Force & Outreach Program and the Domestic Violence Liaison in the Leominster Police Department.”
In recognition of the state’s strong support for education, the Legislature approved an unprecedented $4.9 billion in Chapter 70 education funding, which represents an increase of 3.4 percent over the previous fiscal year and increases funding for teacher health care costs by $39 million. Education funding also features $319.4 million to fund the Special Education Circuit Breaker, $90 million for Charter School Reimbursement, $68.9 million for Regional School Transportation and $5 million to fund the Preschool Partnership Initiative.
The budget reflects the Legislature’s commitment to ensuring the wellbeing of children and families by lifting the cap on benefits for children of low income families. This change takes effect in January 2019. The budget also provides $2.5 million for continued support for early childhood mental health consultation services and $20 million to support high-quality Early Education and Care (EEC) programs. The budget also provides $10 million to create an EEC workforce development initiative to tie professional development and higher education opportunities more closely to our community colleges.
As part of an ongoing effort to ensure access to safe and affordable housing for the most vulnerable Massachusetts residents, the budget provides $100 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP), $32 million for the HomeBASE program, $20 million for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) Program and establishes a $5 million rapid homeless rehousing program.
To address the ongoing opioid epidemic, the budget includes $142 million for the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services to create five recovery centers in Massachusetts. The budget features $5 million to support community-based treatment program, $4.9 million for step-down recovery services and $1 million to provide increased access to Narcan to first responders.
The budget ensures that cities and towns, large and small, are empowered to effectively manage their regional transit systems to ensure reliable service and fiscal responsibility. Regional Transit Authorities across Massachusetts are allocated $88 million to assure that our residents have access to reliable and affordable transportation.
The budget sets aside funds to establish monitoring for hiring, promotion and preferential treatment occurring within the State Police.
In addition the budget includes the following provisions highlighted below.
The budget now moves to the Governor for consideration.