Thank you to everyone who contacted your State Representative and asked for their support for priority public health amendments! The House is currently debating its budget. 4/22/2019
Now is the time to act to make sure that essential public health funding is included in the FY20 budget. House Ways and Means (HWM) released its $42.7 billion FY20 budget proposal on Wednesday, April 10th. Read MPHA’s preliminary analysis, here.
The House will debate its budget the week of April 22nd. Legislators can co-sponsor budget amendments up to Friday, April 19th.
Please contact your Representative TODAY and urge him or her to co-sponsor the important amendments listed below. Don’t forget to mention why the program or programs you are calling about are important to you.
- State Action for Public Health Excellence (SAPHE) Program — (Amend. #483) by Rep. Kane.
This amendment will allocate new funding to increase training opportunities for the municipal public health workforce and will create an incentive grant program to increase shared services across municipalities. Funding will advance the recommendations of the Special Commission on Local & Regional Public Health to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the local public health system. Our current system faces significant structural and financial challenges, making it difficult for municipalities to meet responsibilities to safeguard our food, water, and air quality; ensure safe and healthy housing conditions; and control communicable diseases, among other protections.
- Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) (Amendments #821, #823, #825) by Rep. Peake.
These amendments will increase base funding, tie future funding to inflation, and require bilateral MOUs between MassDOT and each RTA to address performance targets on ridership, rider satisfaction, asset management and financial performance (consistent with the recommendations of the Task Force on RTA Performance and Funding established in the FY19 budget). RTAs, serving 262 communities outside of Greater Boston, connect residents, especially low-income residents and seniors, to medical care, substance use treatment, groceries, jobs, education and other drivers of good health outcomes. Additional funding is needed to improve and expand service.
- Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) (Amend. #476) by Rep. Kane and Rep. Donahue.
This amendment will meet increasing program demand by allowing it to operate year-round, allow for more participants, and fill geographic gaps in the program. HIP increases healthy food access by providing a one-for-one match, adding money back onto a SNAP recipient’s EBT card when they use it to purchase fresh fruits or vegetables at a participating farm stand, farmers market, CSA, or mobile market. SNAP sales at farm retailers increased by 600% – to $8.3m – from 2016-2017 thanks to HIP.
- Closing the SNAP Gap (Amend. #691) by Rep. Livingstone.
This amendment directs EOHHS to establish a pilot to allow residents to apply for SNAP (food assistance) automatically when applying for or renewing MassHealth or Medicare Savings Program benefits. The amendment would also task the Administration with identifying the costs of implementing this initiative. The “SNAP Gap” refers to the 740K+ people who are enrolled in MassHealth and likely eligible for SNAP, but who aren’t receiving benefits.
- Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (Amendments #652 & #859) by Reps. Donato and McGonagle.
These amendments will provide additional funding to increase the stock of affordable housing and produce new vouchers; as well as to update fair market rent standards that have been frozen since 2005, increasing the accessibility of vouchers in Massachusetts’ high-cost rental markets. The number of households experiencing housing instability and homelessness persists as MA remains one of the most expensive states in the nation. Access to housing vouchers has been shown to increase stability and improve health outcomes for adults and kids.
The Massachusetts Senate will debate its budget in mid-May. After the Senate debates its budget, the House and Senate will appoint three members each to a “Conference Committee” to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate proposals.