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Council statement on Senate budget

Contact: Bill Yelenak
617-428-3637 x122 (office)      
860-919-0369 (cell)

Salary Reserve amendment adopted in Senate budget
Amendment will add $20m fund for low-paid human services workers’ salaries

BOSTON – The Senate agreed Thursday to add a $20 million Salary Reserve to its budget proposal, which would give low-paid human services workers a modest salary increase – their first in five years.

“We thank Senate President Murray, Chairman Brewer, our amendment sponsor, Senator Karen Spilka, and all the other senators for their support of direct care workers and the human services sector,” said Council President & CEO Michael Weekes. “We are extremely pleased to see our legislative leaders support these workers who provide essential support to one-in-ten state residents.”

The 31,500 low-paid workers do not receive annualized raises due to fixed state contracts, and they rely on the Salary Reserve for a modest increase. While workers had received a Salary Reserve in a supplemental budget last fall, it will be distributed as a one-time payment this June and does not annualize into their salary. The rising costs of shelter, gasoline, utilities and health insurance have made it difficult for human service employees to continue working in the sector with such small salaries.

The Providers’ Council will continue advocating for the Senate language to be included in the final budget proposal. The Salary Reserve is important to ensure the overall stability of the human services sector, Weekes added. 

“We must ensure that our staff members – many of whom may be a paycheck or two away from needing assistance themselves – are paid a fair and decent wage,” Weekes added. “These employees provide essential care to our state’s most vulnerable residents, in addition to living in our communities and boosting their local economies. This is the right step to help the helpers who care for our friends and neighbors and contribute to building stronger communities in Massachusetts. We thank the Senate for their unanimous support and will work to ensure it is accepted by the Conference Committee.”