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Budget maintains critical human services funding, but omits salary reserve

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

BOSTON – Governor Deval Patrick’s $32.3 million House 2 budget proposal, released Wednesday, makes a concerted effort to increase state revenues and keep most critical human services line items funded at least at FY ’12 levels.

“We appreciate Governor Patrick proposing increased funding in the state budget for most essential human services programs,” said Providers’ Council President and CEO Michael Weekes. “We were further encouraged to hear his call for jobs during his State of the Commonwealth address on Monday. The job supporting salary reserve for nearly 30,000 workers, however, is inexplicably missing from his proposal.”

Most human services line items were funded at FY ’12 levels, with some programs beginning to rebound from a recession that saw the sector lose nearly $700 million in funding since 2007. Still, the budget did contain some cuts, including:

• a $5.5 million reduction to Family Respite and Support (DDS) with 1,750 families losing services;
• a $1.5 million cut to Elder Nutrition (EOEA) that eliminates more than 240,000 free/subsidized lunches;
• a $371,000 reduction in Turning 22 programs (MRC)
• a $43,000 reduction (DPH) eliminating 1,200 dental visits for adults with developmental disabilities

The salary reserve, if included, could provide a cost-of-living adjustment to the 31,500 low-paid direct care workers who provide essential services on behalf of the state. The Council asked for this, as well as a minimal cost-of-inflation adjustment for state contracts, in its testimony on the FY ’13 state budget.

“We recognize the difficult choices that are made to balance the FY ’13 budget proposal, and we hope the Legislature will add a 3 percent salary reserve for low-paid employees and a cost-of-inflation adjustment to contracts when they introduce their spending plans,” Weekes added. “These dedicated caregivers have gone five years without an annualized salary adjustment, and these modest increases are essential to help providers cover increased operational costs and recruit and retain a dedicated workforce. This is really about supporting jobs in our sector and allowing organizations to recruit and retain qualified staff.”

The Providers' Council, also known as the Massachusetts Council of Human Service Providers, Inc., is the largest statewide membership association for community-based organizations providing social, rehabilitation, education and health care services.