Elders, parents, and those in need of mental health services will benefit from the Senate budget if the Committee on Ways and Means gets its way.
The Senate Committee on Ways and Means recommended passage of a $33.9 billion balanced budget for fiscal 2014, closing a $1.2 billion budget gap and making strides to protect vulnerable populations in the Commonwealth, according to Senator Brian A. Joyce, D-Milton.
“By investing in home care for our seniors, early childcare access, and mental health support services, we are continuing our intergenerational commitments and promoting both economic growth and quality of life,” Joyce wrote in a statement Wednesday.
Joyce sits on the Committee on Ways and Means.
The budget provides $11.1 million in new funding for elder affairs programs, including the Home Care Program for which Joyce has been an advocate.
Joyce was a sponsor of the bill that established the Community Choice program to prevent premature placement of the elderly into nursing homes by providing home care services, according to the statement.
The new funding will eliminate waitlists for elder care home services.
The budget also provides $15 million in early childcare access for families currently on the long childcare waitlist. The funding will not completely eliminate the waitlist, but it will reach 2,000 new children and expand the program for the first time since 2009, according to Joyce.
Mental health service funding is increased by $30.3 million, which will provide quality care to millions of state residents and expand emergency mental health services, Joyce said.
The budget funds MassHealth at a sufficient level to maintain existing services and to implement the Affordable Care Act, as well as providing increased funding for veterans’ services, higher education, and economic development initiatives, according to Joyce.
State senator Stephen M. Brewer, D-Barre, chair of the Ways and Means Committee said the budget will build on innovation and efficiency while providing services to residents most in need.
“This budget makes a number of targeted investments that will sustain the Commonwealth for years to come,” Brewer said.