BOSTON—Representative Jeffrey Sánchez joined his colleagues in the House of Representatives today in passing a fiscal year 2014 budget agreed upon by a conference committee comprised of Senate and Representative membership.
Representative Sánchez advocated for increased funding for programs for youth employment and safety. The YouthWorks Teen Job Program, which helps fund the salaries of teens in high-risk neighborhoods for summer jobs in the government and non-profit sectors, was funded at $9 million through the Conference Committee report. In addition, Representative Sánchez advocated for increased funding of the Shannon Anti-Violence Grant program, which helps to fund police gang suppression programs in 27 cities and towns for at-risk youth. This program received $7 million.
Additionally, the conference committee budget increases funding for the operation of Homeless Programs by $595 thousand, allowing for increased staff and services at DTA shelter intake facilities. Funding for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program, a top priority for Representative Sánchez, was increased by $15.5 million, a 36% increase that will allow for over 1,000 new vouchers available to homeless families.
This budget makes strong commitments to public health, and secures funding to ensure the Department of Public Health is able to meet its regulatory mandates. This includes over $1 million more to the Bureau of Environmental Health for proactive inspections of food manufacturing facilities, lasers used in medical settings, and local pools and beaches.
Additionally, almost $1.5 million more was dedicated to medical facility inspections, compliance, and oversight. These funds support 6 new inspectors and 2 enforcement positions in the Bureau of Health Care Quality and Improvement. This will enable the Bureau to monitor and ensure conditions and compliance at facilities like hospitals and nursing homes, while addressing critical backlogs in facility inspection and consumer complaint investigations.
Representative Sánchez was able to secure language in the conference committee budget with provisions to improve transparency at the Board of Pharmacy, as well as increased funding to address lapses in oversight and compliance marked by the fungal meningitis outbreak at New England Compounding Center last fall.
“With enhanced reporting requirements, we can ensure the board is effectively overseeing the pharmaceutical industry”, said Sánchez, “Ultimately, these provisions strive to prevent tragedies like we saw last year that resulted in over 60 deaths and over 800 patients sickened”.