Senator Downing's Press Pass: FY16 Conference Budget Released


 


FY16 CONFERENCE BUDGET RELEASED; DOWNING SECURES MILLIONS/POLICY VICTORIES FOR REGION


 

JULY 8, 2015 - BOSTON – State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D- Pittsfield) announces that H. 3650, the FY16 conference committee's budget report, has been filed and is scheduled to be considered by both the House of Representative and the Senate today. 

"From expansion of the EITC to increased investments in emergency food assistance, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Gateway Cities and regional school transportation, this budget includes many western Mass. priorities,” said Downing.  "I appreciate my colleagues' support and look forward to working with the Baker Administration to build on this good work throughout the fiscal year." 

The $38.1 Billion conference budget contains millions of dollars in spending championed by Downing during the Senate's budget debate, including: 

Downing also secured the adoption of several policy initiatives in the Senate budget, such as: 

Downing notes that the FY16 conference budget prioritizes Local Aid to cities and towns, increasing unrestricted local aid by $34 Million and local education aid by $111.2 Million, while also funding regional school district transportation at $59 Million. 

The budget also pairs a new $2 Million incentive program for communities and municipalities engaging in the use of best practices as  determined by the Community Compact Cabinet with a $3 Million multi-year competitive grant program intended to provide financial support to regionalization and efficiency initiatives proposed by municipalities, regional school districts, school districts who are considering forming a new regional school district or regionalizing services, regional planning agencies and councils of governments.  Downing believes these programs will be helpful locally as various options to share services and increase regionalization are considered throughout Berkshire County by school district and municipal officials.  

Once the conference budget report is enacted by the House and Senate, it will head to Governor Charlie Baker.  The Governor has 10 days to review and approve it, or make vetoes or reductions.  Under the state Constitution, the Governor may approve or veto the entire budget, or may veto or reduce certain line items or sections, but may not add anything. 

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