BBA Budget Priorities: We Need Your Help
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For Immediate Release
May 16, 2018
Contact: Lauren DiTullio

BBA Budget Priorities: We Need Your Help

The budget process is in full swing. The Senate Ways and Means Committee released its FY2019 budget proposal last week, providing generous funding for many of our line-items of interest, including funding for civil legal aid and the Judiciary. However, it is still not enough.

We appreciate all the work you did in supporting these key items on the House side, which helped achieve a much-needed boost in legal-aid funding. Now we need your help again in the Senate. We urge you to reach out to your State Senator and request that they co-sponsor the budget amendments described below (#922, #791, and #1015) to provide the funding necessary for civil legal aid, the Housing Court, and an important criminal justice measure.

Don’t know who to call? Look up your Senator here.

Below is a brief breakdown of the issues (for more information check out our letter to SWM Chair Karen Spilka, where we elaborate on our budget priorities, and these materials on MLAC, the Housing Court, and re-entry services funding.

Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC)

  • Request: $23 Million
  • Governor’s Budget: $18.18 Million
  • House Budget: $20.75 Million
  • Senate Ways and Means Budget: $19 Million

Senator Cynthia Creem and Senator William Brownsberger have filed an amendment (#992) asking for an additional $4 million, which would bring the total MLAC line-item to $23 million. Click here to ask your Senator to support civil legal aid. And if your Senator is already a co-sponsor, call them to express your thanks and ask them to continue pushing for the amendment.

Housing Court Expansion

Statewide Housing Court Expansion
  • Request: $2.6 million
  • Governor’s Budget: $2.6 million
  • House Budget: $1.5 million
  • Senate Ways and Means Budget:$2.6 million
Tenancy Preservation Program
  • Request: $1.3 million
  • Governor’s Budget: $500,000
  • House Budget: $750,000
  • Senate Ways and Means Budget: $750,000

The BBA was thrilled when, after four years of advocacy, funding and authorizing language for the statewide expansion of the Housing Court was included in the current year’s budget. You can read more about just why statewide expansion of the Housing Court is so important here. We are thankful that the Senate Ways and Means Committee recognize the import of this expansion and proposed full funding.

Still, in order for the entire gamut of benefits to be expanded statewide, the Housing Court must be adequately staffed and include the important parallel expansion of programs like the Tenancy Preservation Program (TPP), which provides a unique intervention that enables trained counselors to assist with services in cases involving persons with disabilities, helping to prevent homelessness and shelter stays.

Please call your Senator today to ask them to co-sponsor Senator Julian Cyr’s Amendment #791 to fully fund the Tenancy Preservation Program.

Residential Re-Entry Services

This time, we have one more item that needs your help: funding for residential re-entry services to reduce recidivism. As you know, Massachusetts recently took a huge leap towards ensuring our criminal justice system is more fair and effective. While there is much to celebrate, there is still much to be done. Each year thousands of Massachusetts residents are released from jails and prisons, many with little or no resources to help in securing essential needs like employment and housing.

Because of this, the BBA recommended in its report, No Time to Wait, that the state “ensure adequate funding and accountability for anti-recidivism efforts.” One step towards this is through line-item 0339 -1011, which would offer funding for community-based residential reentry services that provide housing, workforce development, and case management for recently released individuals, fostering connections and stability for those re-entering the community.

Please call your Senator today to ask them to co-sponsor Senator William Brownsberger’s Amendment #1015 to provide $5 million in funding for this important service.

If you need a refresher, be sure to check out our podcast on How to Talk to Your Legislators. Thank you for the help in supporting these important line-items!

The Boston Bar Association traces its origins to meetings convened by John Adams, who provided pro bono representation to the British soldiers prosecuted for the Boston Massacre and went on to become the nation’s second president. Its mission is to advance the highest standards of excellence for the legal profession, facilitate access to justice, serve the community at large and promote diversity and inclusion.
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