Barrett backs program for low-income parents

Thanks to the efforts of state Senator Mike Barrett, D-Lexington, the Massachusetts Senate’s recently passed state budget includes additional funding for the Secure Jobs Initiative, a statewide program geared towards assisting low-income parents.

Barrett’s amendment increased funding for the initiative by 25%. The program helps parents in temporary living situations get connected with job training services and find employment.

“When you’re in very tough financial shape, you and your kids likely need both a roof over your heads and help finding work,” Barrett said. “But the state seldom brings together housing and job training for the same person. Secure jobs is that rare coordinated approach.”

Barrett backed other successful efforts, including additional funds for the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the agency that promotes the arts across the state and gives grants to local cultural groups. In addition, Barrett pushed for an increase to legal aid for low-income people. The money helps with assistance on non-criminal problems like evictions and heating shutoffs. During floor debate the Senate boosted funding for legal aid by $2.1 million.

Other major budget items included:

  • $4.51B for Chapter 70 education aid, allowing for a minimum increase of $25 per pupil.
  • $271.6M to fully fund the Special Education Circuit Breaker for the 4th straight year.
  • $59M for the Regional School Transportation program, which reimburses regional school districts for the costs of transporting students to and from regional schools.
  • $979.8M for Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) for community investments in education, public safety, roads and bridges and health care.
  • $10M for the Substance Abuse Trust Fund to fund a range of treatment services, including detoxification, clinical stabilization, transitional support, residential services and outpatient treatment.
  • $2M for housing and supportive services for unaccompanied homeless youth.

The next step for the state budget is a conference committee, where differences between the House and Senate versions are reconciled, after which the document goes to the governor’s desk.