Over three days last week, the Massachusetts Senate debated its FY2020 budget, and while they approved several important priorities for housing and community development, they set aside or rejected many of MACDC’s key budget priorities.
As a reminder for you, in April the House voted to increase funding for the Small Business Technical Assistance (SBTA) program to $3 million, and we asked the Senate to increase funding to $4 million to meet the existing demand for program resources. (The Senate Ways and Means proposed level funding of $2 million, as did Governor Baker.) Senator Diana DiZoglio offered an amendment to increase SBTA program funding to $4 million, which was defeated by voice vote. We will work to secure the higher level funding of $3 million when the Conference Committee (composed of six legislators – three from each chamber who meet to reconcile budget funding and policy differences) begins its deliberations in June.
The House added $750,000 to Mass Development’s Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) line item for a neighborhood stabilization initiative for a total of $1 million. Specifically, the House “provided, that $750,000 shall be expended on a neighborhood stabilization initiative to assist local governments and their non-profit partners to implement strategic neighborhood revitalization initiatives; and provided further, that the Initiative shall be developed in consultation with the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations, and the Massachusetts Institute for a New Commonwealth, Inc. and shall focus on identifying and implementing strategies for reclaiming vacant, abandoned and blighted properties and restoring them to productive use as homeownership opportunities or rental housing, as well as on capacity-building at the local level to address this need.”
Senate Ways and Means had proposed level funding ($250,000) and Senator Brendan Crighton offered an amendment to restore the $750,000 and the language above to conform to the House passed provision. The Senate rejected the Crighton amendment and we will seek the House approved language when the Conference convenes in June.
The House provided level funding ($2.05 million) for the Chapter 206 funding from the MA Division of Banks (line item 7006-0011) to enable homeownership education and foreclosure prevention counseling, consistent with MACDC’s request, what Governor Baker proposed, and what Senate Ways and Means has proposed. It was pleasant surprise – and an added bonus – when Sen. Jamie Eldridge offered, and the full Senate adopted, an amendment to increase this line item by $800,000, and we will work to retain this higher level funding in the Conference report.
he House adopted a proposal to raise the deeds recording fees from $20 to $50 to improve the state’s match to communities from the CPA Trust Fund and the Senate adopted (by unanimous record vote) an amendment by Sen. Cynthia Creem to mirror the House proposal. MACDC has long supported Sen. Creem’s legislative efforts to increase these deeds recording fees, and we were pleased that the Senate adopted this amendment, as well as an amendment by Sen. Bruce Tarr to authorize up to $20 million of FY19 budget surplus to be transferred to the CPA Trust Fund to alleviate an expected 2019 CPA Trust Fund shortfall.
Finally, we were very pleased that Senators Cyr and DiZoglio agreed to offer an amendment to provide $5 million to recapitalize the Get the Lead Out Loan Program. Early in the week, Sen. Cyr decided he would withdraw this amendment from the budget debate, based upon discussions with leadership and staff, and an understanding that he could obtain this funding through other legislation. This will remain a critical priority for MACDC this session, as current projections from MassHousing suggest, without recapitalization, as of June 30, 2020, the fund balance essentially would be zero.
The disparate actions taken by the House and Senate will be reconciled over the next 3-4 weeks in a Conference Committee. Your calls and emails remain vital, if we are to achieve our highest budget priorities and other goals outlined in early January.
So, stay tuned to further Action Alerts; there is more work for us to do!
Thank you for your support and your advocacy.