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Budget must lessen cuts to state’s most vulnerable

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

Large cuts projected for homeless, mental health and employment programs

BOSTON - The Governor's $30.5-billion budget proposal, released this afternoon, makes substantial cuts to human services and could result in service cuts for the one in ten residents who receive care or a loss of jobs for the 185,000-person workforce, said Providers' Council President and CEO Michael Weekes.

"While we understand that declining state revenues required cuts to the budget, the Providers' Council is concerned that the torn and tattered safety net continues to take a disproportionate hit," Weekes said. "We cannot keep asking our caring force of dedicated professionals to endure massive cuts and provide more services with less state investment."

Some of the largest cuts were in human services.

They include $23 million for emergency homeless shelters; $21.4 million for mental health hospitals, children's community flexible supports and Clubhouses in the Department of Mental Health; $15 million for the Employment Services Program; and $14 million for family respite services in the Department of Disability Services. The Department of Children and Families saw $6.6 million cut for group care services, and the Department of Public Health saw $8 million cut for early intervention services and $5.9 million cut for health promotion activities.

"While we are cognizant of declining revenues, we believe Massachusetts must put our own residents ahead of out-of-state film companies and remove the film tax credit, as well as other corporate tax loopholes, to preserve our safety net and fully fund programs for our most vulnerable residents," he continued. "Our state may not have a significant spending problem or revenue problem, but it has a problem with giving film tax credits, which have largely benefited non-residents.

"During last night's State of the Union address, President Barack Obama said while he was willing to eliminate whatever the country could do without, he would ‘make sure that we're not doing it on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens.' We must ensure the Commonwealth's most vulnerable citizens – individuals with disabilities, our women and children, our elderly, our homeless and other at-risk people – do not lose the care they so desperately need," he added.

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.