Representative James O’Day Successfully Advocates for Important State Funding for Local and State Programs During the Fiscal Year 2014 House Budget Debate

Representative James O’Day ([D] West Boylston) finished up a considerably successful House Budget week on Wednesday night where he played a vital role in securing funding for important services for a diverse group of his constituency. 

Representative O’Day was successful in advocating for a small increase in funding for Worcester’s Talking Book Library at the Worcester Public Library, which provides those with disabilities equitable access to reading materials with thousands of Braille books and other adaptive technologies for reading and learning. 

Representative O’Day has also played a vital role in securing $150,000.00 to fund the efforts of the Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth.  The commission was convened in December of 2012 and charged with looking into the problem of youth ages 14-24 not in the company of a parent or guardian who are homeless.  Representative O’Day is happy to announce that the $150K will go towards the ongoing work of the commission, including determining best practices to serve this specific population and executing a unified count of the unaccompanied homeless youth population in Massachusetts. 

Representative O’Day also played a pivotal role in increasing funding for the Department of Transitional Assistance Caseworkers, who serve on the front line of fighting poverty in the Commonwealth by connecting the most vulnerable people and families in the Commonwealth with vital services.  Additional funding will reduce the caseloads for these workers, ensuring more accessible and quality services for people and families in transition.  

As chairman of the Elder Affairs committee, Representative O’Day successfully advocated for support for seniors in the Commonwealth. An additional $1.5 million was secured to help end waiting lists for home care in the Enhanced Community Options Program. This program helps to keep frail elders in their homes by providing assistance with daily living activities. An additional $1.28 million was secured for the Councils on Aging, who provide local aid and support to senior centers to 349 cities and towns. Representative O’Day also secured funding for the Nursing Home Pay for Performance Program, geared at encouraging nursing homes to improve care by engaging the direct care workforce.

Representative O’Day worked to ensure that elders in nursing homes and rest homes will continue to retain $72.80 per month for their personal needs. The personal needs allowance is a modest amount reserved from an elder’s income to pay for items not covered by MassHealth, such as dental services, phone calls, newspapers and toiletries. Representative O’Day successfully advocated for yearly notification to seniors on MassHealth about their options for enrolling in voluntary programs including Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) plans, Senior Care Options (SCO) plans, and other elected benefits to supplement or replace their MassHealth benefits.

 

Representative O’Day is grateful to have worked with Speaker Robert A. DeLeo and Chairman Brian Dempsey of House Ways and Means in producing the Fiscal Year 2014 House Budget.  This year’s House Budget continues to take care of our most vulnerable and at the same time propels Massachusetts into the future with more substantial investments in local aide, economic development programs and education.  Looking ahead to the remainder of the 188th Session, Representative O’Day is confident that the Fiscal Year 2014 House Budget sets the tone for a productive and impactful legislative session.