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The Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Executive Department

State House Boston, MA 02133

(617) 725-4000








January 17, 2003



Shawn Feddeman

(617) 727- 2759



Demonstrates commitment to preserving vital services by protecting homeless


A week after filing legislation to expand his budgetary powers, Governor Mitt Romney today signed the bill giving him broader authority to reduce spending in the middle of the current 2003 fiscal year.


Meanwhile, to demonstrate his commitment to protecting essential services, Romney announced that he was softening regulations proposed by the Swift administration to tighten eligibility for the Emergency Assistance Program, which provides shelter to the homeless.


The legislation signed by Romney – his first as Governor - permits him to review local aid and higher education accounts in addressing deficiencies in revenue for the current fiscal year. Those accounts are currently beyond the reach of Romney’s so-called “9C authority” to reduce spending.


The new law sunsets on July 1, 2003, the beginning of the next fiscal year, and contains an emergency preamble that allows it to take effect immediately.


The legislation authorizes reductions to local aid accounts, which include Lottery distributions, additional assistance and Chapter 70 school assistance, but it mandates that total local aid reductions equal no greater than one-third of the entire 9C reduction made by the Governor.


The bill also states that no reductions shall be made to Chapter 70 monies that bring a community below its “foundation budget” for school spending.


On the cost-cutting changes proposed for the Emergency Assistance Program, Romney said: “We’re not going to abandon the homeless. While some of the proposed new regulations make sense and represent sound policy, others were too severe and will not go into effect.”


To save $3.5 million, the Department of Transitional Assistance in November proposed regulatory changes that would have denied shelter to 218 homeless families. The new course of action will impact 168 fewer families than the original plan proposed in November.


While he is sacrificing $2 million in savings by blocking some of the proposed changes, Romney said programs that provide shelter to the homeless “should not be gutted,” calling them “essential services.”


Romney modified the regulations to protect domestic violence victims, and those that would have required family members to separate to become eligible. He also eliminated a so-called “one strike and you’re out” policy that would have terminated eligibility after a single act of non-compliance.


Other changes will go into effect, including those requiring families to resolve outstanding warrants before becoming eligible; which deem families that refuse shelter placement to be ineligible for assistance; and which include Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in eligibility criteria.


The new regulations will take effect February 3.

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