Over the last two months, the House and the Senate have been hard at work crafting the fiscal year 2014 state budget. It has been another challenging year for public health funding, especially for those core public health protections that we all rely on but seldom pause to think about – things like food protection, infectious disease control, and health care quality inspections. However, thanks to MPHA, our partners, and our legislative champions, we have secured significant victories in both the House and Senate to increase or protect millions of dollars in public health funding.
Last week, MPHA’s top priority budget amendments were adopted by the Senate. These amendments will increase funding for environmental public health services (by $950,000) and health care quality (by $1.3 million). An additional amendment will increase funding for the board of pharmacy (by $600,000). These amendments – if included in the final budget – will allow for the hiring of inspectors to provide essential safeguards on food safety, indoor air quality, and health care quality. We thank Senator John Keenan – the new Senate chair of the Public Health Committee – for his leadership on these amendments and for taking on the cause of public health funding with tremendous passion and commitment. We also appreciate the partnership of Senator Ken Donnelly and Senator Cynthia Stone Creem to support adequate public health funding.
Earlier this spring, MPHA led the successful effort to avert proposed cuts to several public health line items in the House budget. The House adopted an amendment by Representative Jeffery Sánchez to restore $1 million for Health Promotion & Disease Prevention programs and an amendment by Representative Denise Garlick to restore $140,000 to the Registry of Vital Records, which is essential to the delivery of numerous health services and health data systems. In the House, we also partnered closely with Representatives Jason Lewis, Steven Walsh, Ted Speliotis, Jon Hecht, and Frank Smizik to promote public health funding – and we greatly appreciate their advocacy!
The budget moves on now to a Conference Committee that will reconcile the House and Senate versions over the next several weeks. Stay tuned to learn more about MPHA’s Conference Committee priorities and how you can get involved to support adequate funding.