Public health priorities are on the move in the State House as we move into the crucial final months of the legislative session. The Senate debated and passed their version of the fiscal year 2017 budget last week, which included numerous public health victories:
- The Massachusetts Food Trust Program was funded at $100,000, though an amendment by Sen. Michael Moore
- Language was included to ensure stable funding for the Mass in Motion program, through an amendment by Sen. Jason Lewis
- $1 million was included for the Executive Office of Health and Human services to move toward a common application for MassHealth and SNAP (food assistance) in an effort to close the “SNAP Gap”
- Language to clarify that MBTA and Commuter Rail fares can only be raised by 5% over a 2 year period, seeking to ensure that any future fare increases are modest.
The legislature has advanced several other MPHA priorities recently as well:
- MPHA led the successful effort to win Senate passage of a bill to create a Special Commission on Local and Regional Health on May 19th. The bill seeks to strengthen our system of local health protections on which all residents reply.
- MPHA supported passage of the Fair Share Constitutional Amendment through a joint House-Senate Constitutional Convention. The measure, passed on a vote of 135-57 on May 18th, advances a ballot question which would raise nearly $2 billion for education and transportation, two key social determinants of health. With this vote, the measure is one step closer toward going to the voters in fall 2018.