House should follow Senate’s bold lead on budget
State Senate President Karen Spilka hit the nail on the head in saying that budgets are really a reflection of values and priorities (“Senate goes bigger, bolder on budget,” Editorial, May 10), and her new chief budget writer, Ways and Means Chairman Michael Rodrigues, drove it home with a budget that boldly addresses several serious issues we face in Massachusetts.
With a heavy emphasis on mental health and education funding, and a creative effort to control the high cost of Medicare-related drugs, the Rodrigues budget is one the Senate ought to be proud of and support. The state budget process can produce cautious and ineffective bills, but it looks like the Senate is trying to really make a difference. In the negotiations to come, hopefully the House will follow suit.
Lawmakers get point that education begins with the youngest learners
Your editorial “Senate goes bigger, bolder on budget” notes that “this is the year when all eyes are on education funding.” On behalf of early educators across Massachusetts, we concur, since education begins with our youngest learners. Over the past three years, Massachusetts has demonstrated an understanding of that point, valuing and investing in the early education workforce and program quality.
It is through the vision and leadership of House Speaker Robert DeLeo and the House, Senate President Karen Spilka and the Senate, and the editorial pages of this paper that we are seeing an enhanced commitment to the early education field. The results of these efforts are successes in attracting and retaining credentialed educators, raising the quality of life for these educators and increasing the quality of programming for our children.
In the current budget proposal, the House has continued to prioritize quality early education, with a $20 million reserve. We urge the Senate to continue in these efforts, through an amendment offered by Senator Michael Moore and through the conference committee process.
Senate plan falls short in funding for one vulnerable group
While there is much in the Senate Ways and Means budget to celebrate (“Senate budget plan includes big boost for schools,” Metro, May 8), it falls short in protecting vulnerable people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism, outside the school day and across their life spans. The House budget provides an additional $10.2 million in funding to the Department of Developmental Services in four key areas, including family support, community day and workplace programing, autism needs, and transportation. Such services help ensure that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities can be cared for in their own homes and can engage with the community in meaningful and productive ways.
I hope the Senate corrects these shortfalls when the full chamber debates amendments and then conferences with the House in the coming weeks.
The writer volunteers with Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts.