It has been a whirlwind of a week here at MPHA! The peaceful unfolding and high voter turnout in our national elections were inspiring to see, and provided an uplifting counterweight to the surging COVID-19 infection rates in Massachusetts and around the nation.
At the same time, the House Ways and Means Committee released its draft budget for FY21. As a result, we are writing to ask you to take a moment to speak out on behalf of critical programs that promote health equity.
Amendment #62 & #63 (Rep. Kane and Vice Chair Garlick) — Accelerate Progress Towards an Equitable and Effective Local Public Health System. These amendments 1) direct DPH to establish a uniform set of minimum local public health performance standards for every community, 2) create an estimated statewide local public health budget to support municipalities to meet these standards, and 3) allocate $1.715 million to increase training and incentivize municipalities to increase efficiency and effectiveness by sharing services.
Amendment #194 (Rep. Peake and Rep. Straus) — $90.5m in core operating support for Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs). RTAs provide lifelines for their riders in 250+ cities and towns beyond the MBTA’s reach — including essential workers who have relied on RTA service throughout the pandemic. COVID-19 has resulted in drastically reduced ridership and fare revenue at the same time that costs have increased due to changes necessitated by the pandemic. This amendment removes language that would hold back a portion of RTA funding to be used for discretionary grants and instead allows it to support ongoing operations.
Amendment #231 (Rep. Donato) – Emergency Paid Sick Time. This amendment provides ten additional work-days (80 hours) of job-protected paid sick time for immediate use during the COVID-19 outbreak to workers not covered by federal emergency paid sick time protections. This will allow workers with COVID symptoms to stay home so they can recover and not risk infecting others. As we enter a difficult winter with increasing rates of infection.
Amendments #524 (Rep. Sabadosa), #675 (Rep. Connolly) & #719 (Rep. Gouveia) – Progressive Revenue to Meet the Unprecedented Needs of Massachusetts Residents. Raising new progressive revenue is essential to an equitable recovery. These amendments 1) raise the current corporate profits tax rate of 8.0% to the pre-2010 rate of 9.5%, 2) tax unearned income at a higher rate than earned income, and 3) adopt a provision to tax a portion of MA-based corporate profits that are shifted overseas. Together, these measures will generate millions of dollars for investments in an equitable recovery.
Thank you, as always, for your partnership,