* * * KNAPIK PRESS RELEASE * * * FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 28, 2013 Contact: Sean Diamond (617) 722-1415

Senate Acts on Fiscal Year 2013 Supplemental Budget Knapik secures funding for Southwick War Memorial BOSTON – Senator Michael R. Knapik (R-Westfield) announced the passage of a $127 million supplemental appropriations bill, Senate Bill 1813, in formal session on Thursday. The bill aims to provide increased revenues for programs that are experiencing funding shortfalls.

During session, Senator Knapik backed a $25,000 earmark for the War Memorial in Southwick. This funding will provide greater accessibility to the Memorial and ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

If enacted, the bill will appropriate $55.7 million to cover the remainder of snow and ice costs from last winter, $16.8 million to fulfill obligations for the Committee on Public Counsel Services Private Bar Association, $11.8 million to ensure all sheriff departments can meet payroll and other costs to close out the 2013 fiscal year, and $500k to fund welcome home bonuses for veterans.

This piece of legislation also addresses several time sensitive items including $13.6 million for state and local costs associated with the recent Congressional special election, $10 million for the Youth at Risk summer jobs program, $8 million to fully fund the state’s charter school reimbursements to school districts, and $2 million for the restoration of Prison Mitigation funds. The House passed a variation of the bill on June 18th. Senator Knapik was appointed today to the Conference Committee that will be tasked with reconciling the differences between the two plans.

“I look forward to working with members of the Conference Committee to reach a swift, yet responsible compromise that will ensure approval of the supplemental budget by both branches of the Legislature,” Knapik added.

In other session news, the Senate approved the final report offered by the Transportation Financing Conference Committee during formal session on Wednesday. The report recommends $500 million in new revenues, a far cry from the Governor’s initial request of $1.9 billion, to support immediate improvements to the state’s aging infrastructure and help develop future projects to improve roads, bridges, and public transit systems. The compromise would, however, direct up to $805 million in state spending to transportation accounts by 2018.

The Transportation Finance Framework includes a provision to fully forward fund the Commonwealth’s Regional Transportation Authorities, including the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA). Currently, the RTAs receive state funding on a reimbursement basis, meaning that they have to borrow money at the onset of the year to cover their budget. Forward funding will provide a more secure financial footing for the RTAs by eliminating their need to borrow for operating costs.

The increases in revenue will also help support Chapter 90 funding to cities and towns. The legislature unanimously approved a $300 million to support local road and bridge projects in early May. Despite the overwhelming support for the allocation, the Governor has withheld half of the appropriation and has not yet committed to the release of the remaining funds.

In addition, the plan institutes strict benchmarks for the Department of Transportation and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority to generate own-source revenues and savings and share in the cost of funding an improved their transportation systems. The plan closes funding gaps for both institutions in Fiscal Year 2014. The measure will also move all DOT personnel costs off the capital budget over the next three years. “The passages of the transportation financing package will allow the State to invest in the most immediate transportation needs, provide a stable funding source for our Regional Transit

Authorities, and hold the MBTA to a new operating standard,” Senator Knapik remarked. “I commend the Conferees for balanced and responsible report,” Knapik added.

The Conference Committee report passed the House and is now before the Governor for his approbation. Prior to passage in the Senate, the Governor express his disappointment with the resources provided in the proposal and indicated his intension to send it back to the legislature for further action.

Also during session on Wednesday, the Senate passed House bill 3452, an Act implementing the Affordable Care Act and providing further access to affordable health care. The legislation is designed to align Massachusetts health insurance regulations with the requirements of the federal Affordable Care Act. To conform to federal guidelines, the bill not only changes definitions and regulations, but also expands and streamlines the MassHealth program. The MassHealth expansion, combined with new federal tax credits, makes the Commonwealth Care program no longer necessary.

The Senate voted to repeal the program effective January 1, 2014. The Senate also unanimously accepted an amendment offered by Senator Brewer that requires the Governor to seek a waiver from certain portions of the Affordable Care Act. The waiver would allow continued use of current methods of determining rates for the Massachusetts merged market. The intent of the waiver is to avoid the adverse effects of rating and rule changes. In doing so, the Senate hopes to protect consumers and businesses by maintaining established requirements.

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