Wednesday, June 27, 2001

Swift focuses on tax relief for working families
Reaffirms commitment to worker training, education

Contact:  Jason Kauppi
              Sarah Magazine
              (617) 727-2759

CAMBRIDGE - Governor Jane Swift today filed a $453 million supplemental budget that will provide $150 million in tax relief that will ease the burden on low-income individuals and families as well as $52 million in additional funding for adult education and worker training. Swift made the announcement following a tour of the Community Learning Center in Cambridge, which offers adult basic education and English as a Second Language (ESL) classes.

"We must not only look for opportunities to help families earn a better wage, we must also continue to look for ways to ease the tax burden on working families in the Commonwealth," said Swift. "This relief will be an added boost to many working families' budgets as they struggle to pay for groceries, rent and other necessities."

The budget calls for a one-time $150 million tax relief package designed to further assist working families who receive the earned income tax credit. To be eligible a family with more than one child must earn no more than $31,152. Approximately 750,000 Massachusetts families are expected to be eligible for this relief.

Earlier this year, Swift filed legislation to increase the state's Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to 25 percent. The Swift proposal would ease the burden on working families by increasing the EITC to 20 percent in 2002 and 25 percent by 2003.

"Education is also a critical component of economic success," said Swift. "In order for families to succeed in the 21st Century's New Economy we must make sure that our workforce has the necessary skills. The $52 million included in this budget for adult education and worker training will go a long way to getting people into the classroom so they can learn the skills they need to create a better life for themselves and their families."

In April 2001, in her first policy initiative as Governor, Swift pledged to help working families thrive by providing improved access to necessary training and education programs for adult workers. Swift also established a task force to review existing state and federally-funded training programs and make recommendations on how the Commonwealth can more effectively assist families and businesses through these services.

This funding will provide $22 million to remove more than half of the 13,000 people currently on the waiting list for Adult Basic Education classes. An additional $30 million in the budget will be committed to support the recommendations of the Task Force on Adult Education and Worker Training by establishing the Building Essential Skills Through Training (BESTT) fund. The BESTT fund will provide grants to industries and regions seeking to upgrade their workers skills.

The supplemental budget also calls for a $64 million investment in healthcare, including $40 million in hardship relief grants to health care providers to ease the cost of providing services to the uninsured. In addition, $20 million will be invested to address the impending nursing shortage, providing $8 million in scholarships for nursing students, $11 million in a student loan forgiveness program.

The budget also provides $34 million for programs for families and children, including $1 million for foster care parent recruitment and $20 million to support a social worker training institute at Salem State College.

The budget also provides an additional $5 million to the $10 million already invested in the firefighter equipment grant program, $12 million to replace aging police cruisers and a total of $45 million in funding for maintenance projects at state and community colleges and UMass.

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