Joyce Backs Balanced Budget

BOSTON – State Senator Brian A. Joyce recently voted in favor of the conference committee’s version of the Fiscal Year 2013 (FY13) budget, expressing happiness at the growth in local aid, increased support for our children and seniors, and adoption of many of his amendments.

Joyce successfully sponsored and cosponsored many amendments, some of which:
• Increase funding for targeted veterans services by 10 percent;
• Increase funding for Elder Protective Services and for Councils on Aging;
• Ban fired employees from receiving unemployment benefits if they had been terminated for stealing, illegal drug use or drunkenness on the job;
• And require mutual insurance companies to disclose the pay of their top executives to combat excessive salaries at these policyholder-owned companies.

“I’m happy that the budget is done and we can begin moving forward,” said Joyce. “I’m also pleased that my amendments regarding increasing state funding for our schools, increased funding for Councils on Aging and forcing citizen-owned mutual insurance companies to disclose the pay of their executives, among others, made it into the final version of the budget. These common-sense measures will improve our children’s education, enrich our seniors’ lives and ensure that the people will see the rewards from their investments in citizen-owned mutual companies as opposed to multi-millionaire CEOs.”

Joyce, however, expressed disappointment that his amendments regarding the banning of the use of barbaric aversive therapies at institutions like the Judge Rotenberg Center were not included in the final version of the budget presented to the Senate.

“We cannot allow these practices to continue being used on children, under any circumstances,” said Joyce. “While I’m disappointed the budget does not address these issues it certainly does nothing to dampen my resolve to see the commonwealth leave behind this harmful, outdated and scientifically unproven treatment against kids with disabilities by an institution driven only by profits and not the enrichment of these children’s lives.”

Joyce noted that significant progress has been made in limiting the practice with the support of Gov. Deval Patrick.

The $32.5 billion budget was reported out of conference committee Wednesday night and passed the House and the Senate on Thursday. The budget now heads to the governor who now has 10 days to review the bill, sign it and return sections of it with vetoes or amendments. The spending plan prioritizes funding for cities and towns and commitments to reform and job creation. The budget does not contain any new taxes and uses a combination of ongoing revenue initiatives, one-time resources and spending reductions to close a $1.4 billion budget gap, the smallest budget gap the state has had since FY08.

The budget restores some painful cuts from previous years and makes new targeted investments, leaving the state’s rainy day fund at $1.2 billion which, along with the Legislature’s prudent reforms and fiscal decisions in previous years, is responsible for the commonwealth’s highest bond rating in history. It also increases local aid to our communities by almost $289 million over the previous year and includes $4.17 in funding to our local school districts and dedicates $11.3 million to fund school transportation for homeless students, the first time Massachusetts has funded such a program.