Modest Environmental Health Investments Welcomed in Otherwise Disappointing Public Health Budget Proposal

On Wednesday, January 24th, Governor Baker announced his $40.9 billion state budget proposal for fiscal year 2019. Governor Baker’s budget proposal includes a 2.6% increase over the current year’s budget.  

While there are some modest public health investments proposed in the Governor’s budget, MPHA is disappointed to see overall level funding for the Department of Public Health, which in addition to failing to keep up with the costs of inflation, comes after years of disinvestment in public health.

Governor Baker’s proposal includes a moderate, but much needed, funding increase for the Bureau of Environmental Health, which protects all Massachusetts residents from hazardous exposures and environmentally-induced illness. However, the Governor also proposes funding cuts to other core public health protection line-items such as the State Lab and Critical Operations and Essential Services.

Read below for more detail on Governor Baker’s FY19 budget proposal. Stay tuned for opportunities to join MPHA in advocating for public health funding – we’ll be sharing budget action alerts in the coming weeks.  

Department of Public Health — Core Public Health Protections and Substance Use Treatment and Prevention 

  • Bureau of Environmental Health (4510-0600) $3.8 million, a 2% increase. The Bureau of Environmental Health protects the public from environmental health threats such as foodborne illness outbreaks, toxic lead exposure and harmful exposure to radiation. The proposed increase in funding would allow BEH to expand its capacity through hiring additional staff.  
  • Critical Operations and Essential Services (45100100) $17.3 million, a 1% decrease. This line-item supports critical services across the Department of Public Health.  
  • Health Care Quality and Improvement (4510-0710) $11.3 million, a 6% increase. This line-item helps protect residents who receive care and services at certified health facilities.  
  • State Laboratory and Communicable Disease Services (4516-1000) $11.8 million, a 4% decrease.  This line-item protects the public from harm caused by communicable diseases, such as Zika, Ebola, West Nile Virus, rabies, and influenza as well as tests for and protects from bio-terror agents. 
  • Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (4513-1111), $3.4 million, 16% decrease. Funds health promotion and disease programs across the Commonwealth, including the Mass-in-Motion Program
  • Bureau of Substance Addiction Services (4512-0200) $136.1 million, level funded. The Governor states in his budget proposal that in addition to the state appropriation, $30 million is expected from new federal funding. 

Line-items Outside of the Department of Public Health 

  • Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) (7004-9024) $97.5 million, a 5% increase.  MRVP is an effective tool in helping low-income families achieve housing stability. 
  • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), 30% of the federal credit, a 7 percentage point increase. EITC, a tax credit available to low-income families, is an effective anti-poverty measure which has been shown to positively impact the health outcomes of children and families.  

As in his FY18 budget proposal, Governor Baker again proposed moving some able-bodied adults from MassHealth to the Health Connector. Click here to read Health Care For All’s statement on the proposed changes.  

Next Steps and Opportunities for Action  

The budget process moves on now to the House of Representatives. The House Ways and Means  Committee will be developing their budget proposal over the coming weeks, and the full House will debate the budget in late April. MPHA will be working hard to advocate for adequate funding for DPH and the programs that help Massachusetts residents stay healthy. 

We need your voice! Stay tuned over the next few weeks for the release of the MPHA complete list of funding priorities and to learn how you can get involved to speak up for public health in the state budget. 

Follow MPHA on Twitter and Facebook for updates on upcoming actions. To receive email action alerts, click here

%d bloggers like this: