Public Policy Update: advocating for early ed and housing in FY15 House Budget

United Way’s public policy efforts were in high gear this week, as House lawmakers debated and passed their budget for several key state programs, including those that will help ensure more children are ready for school success and those that prevent and reduce homelessness in the Commonwealth.

With more than 40,000 children in Massachusetts on a waiting list for early education and just under 4,000 families in motels and shelters, United Way’s public policy agenda urged support of several budget amendments targeted to these issues.

“We know that early learning is critical to a student’s academic achievement and their ability to graduate and become a contributing member of our community,” said Michael K. Durkin, President of United Way of Massachusetts Bay.  “We are committed to the goal of creating quality early education experiences for more children and look forward to working with the Legislature on ensuring our greatest assets, our children, enter school ready to succeed.”

Specific budget amendments that United Way supported that were adopted this week include:

  • Providing $10 million to the Department of Early Education & Care to increase access to an additional 1,250 young children currently on a waiting list for early education programs.  (Amendment 900, filed By Rep. Jay Livingstone)
  • Restoring a $2 million cut to early education and care programs geared toward family engagement and educator professional development. (Amendment 758, filed by Rep. John Keenan)
  • $1.7 million funding for grants that enhance after-school and out-of-school time programming for students in grades K-12. (Amendment 779, filed by Rep. Jennifer Benson)
  • $400k to restore funding for mentoring programs for at-risk youth (Amendment 726, filed by Rep. William Smitty Pignatelli)
  • We will be looking to the Senate for funding for the state’s rental assistance program, which provides assistance for housing for families who might otherwise become homeless, as these amendments were not adopted. (Amendments 1105 and 519 filed by Rep. Sean Garballey and Rep. Gloria Fox, respectively)

Next, the House’s $36.3 billion state budget for fiscal year 2015 will go to the Senate for debate.  Join us in advocating for early education and housing funding by contacting your state senator and let them know you support funding for these issues so critical to our communities!