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Fiscal Year 2001 Budget - Chapter 159 of the Acts of 2000

* Prescription Drugs - The budget offers an expansive and groundbreaking prescription drug insurance program open to all seniors over 65 who are either disabled individuals or live at or below 188% of the federal poverty level. The program guarantees an unlimited prescription drug benefit.  Premiums are charged on a sliding scale based on income.

* Education - The budget provides an additional $187 million in
chapter 70 direct aid to schools, an additional $20 million for MCAS
remediation grants (for a total of $40 million), and $18 million to reduce
grade K through 3 class sizes. The budget also contains a $64 million increase for higher education, which includes $10 million for university endowments, which helps the state attract high caliber individuals. Finally, support for the construction of schools is preserved through a recommendation of $55 million to launch new projects.

* Special Education - The budget changes special education by
tightening eligibility requirements, moving from the state standard of
"maximum feasible benefit" to the federal standard of "free and appropriate education" and allowing independent evaluations for families only up to 400% of the federal poverty level.  A special education cost-sharing program between the state and local school districts is also implemented.

* School Building Assistance - The budget revamps the SBAB program by changing the funding formula to reflect factors like property value, per capital income and poverty level.  The fund will now also pay for school renovation and reconstruction as well as new building construction.

* Medicaid Relief – Due to the losses many of the hospitals have suffered as a result of federal cutbacks, we appropriated $95 million to help protect these vital institutions. A $4 million increase for Community Health Centers’ Medicaid reimbursement rates is designed to encourage centers to remain open longer hours was enacted. To address the alarming scarcity of dentists available to MassHealth clients, we allocated $19.4 million to increase Medicaid rates for dental services by approximately 30 percent. $3.1 million will also be spent to implement dental programs in nine community health centers. In an effort to assist consumers in locating and accessing pharmaceutical companies that offer reduced or no-cost drug programs, we provided $250,000 to establish the Pharmacy Outreach Program.

* Nursing Home Staff - We allocated a $35 million wage increase to certified nursing aides providing critical care in nursing home, as well as $2 million to fund CNA scholarships and training programs. We also appropriated funds for surveying nursing homes and creating an advisory council to study the quality of care in nursing homes.

* Affordable Housing – We included $100 million for the Affordable Housing Trust to provide crucial funding for the creation of new housing. Additionally, we appropriated $900,000 to expand the Supportive Housing program, providing supportive services around the clock, on an as needed basis to seniors in public housing complexes.

Tax Cuts
* The budget contains a tax deduction for charitable giving that
allows taxpayers to deduct up to 50% of their donations to charitable
organizations. This will save taxpayers an estimated $164 million annually.

* The budget freezes the gas tax at 21 cents per gallon.

* The budget grants surviving spouses of disabled veterans the same
property tax relief that they were entitled to when their spouse was alive

Year 2000 Budget | Year 2001 Budget | Senate Engrossed Bills |
1999 - 2000 Bills Passed | 1999 - 2000 Bills with Amendments

Massachusetts State Senator  Brian A. Joyce Room 413A State House, Boston, MA. 02133


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