Boston, MA – Eighteen days late, the now-finalized Massachusetts budget plan has passed both the House and the Senate. Since the finalized bill was so overdue, the MA House and Senate had to deviate from the normal state rules to vote on the proposed legislation the same day it was completed. Since the fiscal year began on July 1st, Massachusetts had been left as the only state without a finalized budget plan already established.
The 2019 fiscal year budget compromise, which amounts to approximately 41.9 billion dollars, increases spending by over 4 percent from the original budget plan. $250,000 of this money will be allotted to aiding homeless youth who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning) community. The Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance will be in charge of managing the use of these funds through their “Home and Healthy for Good” program. The organization states that their method of supplying housing and additional resources to individuals’ in groups that face persistent homeless (such as LGBTQ+ youth) “is less costly and more effective than managing their homelessness and health problems on the street or in shelter."
The new budget also includes a clause which extends MA juvenile courts’ right to hear cases regarding the immigration status of unaccompanied, undocumented minors up to age 21. These individuals are often able to gain special immigration status, so long as they are unmarried. This new provision aims to protect undocumented youth between the ages of 18-21, as recent legislation by President Donald Trump barred states from hearing these individuals unless state law law had an explicit provision allowing the courts to do so. However, the compromise budget also did not include a proposed amendment to protect undocumented immigrants from being asked by a law enforcement official about their immigration status without prior consent and legal protections. Senator Jamie Eldridge, who proposed this amendment, was the only senator who voted against the finalized budget.
The budget is now pending the approval of Mass Gov. Charlie Baker, who has ten days to make a decision.