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House budget proposal cuts human service programs

Contact: Bill Yelenak
Email: byelenak@providers.org
Phone: 617-428-3637 x122 (office) | 860-919-0369 (cell)

Budget does not include Salary Reserve for the lowest-paid workers in sector

BOSTON – The House budget proposal, released Wednesday, slashes vital human services programs and assistance to Massachusetts' most vulnerable individuals. The budget also does not include a fund designed to help the lowest-paid workers in the sector receive a small salary adjustment, said Providers' Council President & CEO Michael Weekes.

The House budget proposal recommends dropping several key line-items below FY '11 levels. Mental health, developmental disabilities, early intervention, elder and public health services, among many others, all see cuts in the House's budget proposal. The cuts will almost certainly mean a loss of services to our most vulnerable residents, a loss of essential jobs or both, Weekes said.

"The torn and tattered safety net continues to unravel in the House budget proposal, even as the need for services is unabated," Weekes said Wednesday. "This cutting-and-slashing approach to our human services sector will not help our economy recover as more workers lose their jobs and many residents lose their services."

The working women and men, part of our caring force, are disappointed in the absence of a salary reserve for the 31,500 low-paid human services workers in the state who care for one-in-ten residents. Rep. Ruth Balser will file an amendment that would allow these workers – many of whom make barely $12 an hour – to receive a small salary adjustment to help them keep up with rising costs like health insurance, food and utilities.

"Our caring workers – many of whom may be a paycheck or two away from needing assistance themselves – must be paid a fair and decent wage," Weekes added. "Without an adjustment of even one cent to their salary since FY '08, it is time for the legislature to step up, make our caring force a priority and help those in the Commonwealth who make some of the lowest salaries and have some of the most demanding jobs in human services."

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.