Contact Your Senator Before Debate Begins Wednesday
The state Senate will begin debate on the fiscal year 2015 budget this Wednesday. Though the deadline to be printed on the amendment as a co-sponsor has passed, Senators are still able to sign on as co-sponsors Monday and Tuesday of this week.
Please contact your Senator this Monday or Tuesday and urge him or her to sign on as co-sponsor to the important amendments listed below, which will address shortfalls in the DPH budget. You can find your senator’s contact information here. If you don’t know who your senator is, please click here.
For more detail on the budget proposal, click here to read our complete analysis.
MPHA Priority Budget Amendments
Amendment #831 – Mass in Motion (4513-1111), sponsored by Sen. Jason Lewis at $500,000.
Mass in Motion communities are making healthier choices easier by increasing access to healthy foods; increasing opportunities for play and physical activity; creating smoke-free multi-unit housing; and leading quality improvement activities at community health centers. Mass in Motion works in 52 Massachusetts cities and towns, covering 33% of the state’s population. Federal funding that supports the program has been eliminated. This amendment would dedicate $500,000 to Mass in Motion to match $500,000 from the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Block grant via DPH so that the work in these communities may continue.
Amendment #833 – Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund Technical Corrections sponsored by Sen. Jason Lewis.
This amendment would fix two technical errors in the language of the Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund, including aligning the final reporting date with the program’s timeline and consolidating two duplicative advisory bodies.
Amendment #778 – State Public Health Laboratory and Communicable Disease Control (4516-1000) sponsored by Sen. Kenneth Donnelly at $389,995.
The Public Health Laboratory supports local health departments in every city and town. The State Lab is responsible for testing of samples for influenza, tuberculosis, salmonella, lead poisoning, bioterror agents, food and insect-borne diseases; training for local health departments; and response to disease outbreaks. This amendment would restore funding to maintenance levels and add $250,000 to strengthen quality assurance and biosafety with two additional FTEs.
Amendment #770 – State Public Health Laboratory and Communicable Disease Control (4516-1000) sponsored by Sen. John Keenan at $2,000,000.
Current facilities at the State Lab are dated and in need of repair in order to support and expand lab services. This amendment would increase funding by $2,000,000 to allow for a capital feasibility study to be conducted. The House budget proposal included a $1,000,000 increase for this purpose, but the Senate did not include any additional funding for the study. $2,000,000 is the amount needed for a full feasibility study to be conducted.
Amendment #850 – Environmental Health Services (4510-0600) sponsored by Sen. Joan Lovely at $209,631.
The programs funded under this account provide important services such as the control of radiation and nuclear hazards, consumer products protection, food and drugs, lead poisoning prevention, lead-based paint inspections in day care facilities, inspection of radiological facilities, and licensing of X-ray technologists. The proposed cuts to this line item would result in 4.5 FTEs being laid off, including the only medical and bio-waste inspector, and would threaten FDA standards. This amendment would restore funding to maintenance level.
Amendment #756 – Food Protection Program Retained Revenue (4510-0020) sponsored by Sen. Cynthia Creem at $233,203.
This line item is threatened by cuts that would result in 3 FTE food inspectors being laid off. These inspectors work in schools and ensure the health and safety of vending machines inside these schools. There are only 10 such inspectors, so retaining these 3 FTEs is crucial. This amendment would restore the program to maintenance funding.
Amendment #711 – Tobacco Prevention and Cessation (4590-0300), sponsored by Sen. Keenan at $9,000,000.
The Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program receives less than .05 percent of the $1 billion in tobacco revenue dollars. This amendment will increase funding so that more boards of health can conduct enforcement of state tobacco laws. In addition, increased funding will allow DPH and local boards of health to to conduct enforcement of synthetic marijuana and other drugs. With an increase of $5 million, MTCP will fund additional enforcement activities; continue smoke-free housing work; add additional hours of Quitline support; and increase the number of The 84 Youth Chapters.
For additional information on these amendments or for other questions about state public health funding, please contact Maddie Ribble at firstname.lastname@example.org .