BOSTON – House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) and State Representative Richard M. Haggerty (D-Woburn) have secured $85,000 in state funding earmarks for the Town of Reading as part of the Fiscal Year 2024 House budget that was engrossed on April 26.
Jones and Haggerty jointly co-sponsored several amendments on the town’s behalf during this year’s budget debate, with the House approving a $25,000 earmark for the Reading Memorial High School’s performing arts program, along with two earmarks totaling $60,000 to support restoration work at the historic Laurel Hill Cemetery. The House’s action represents preliminary approval of the funding, as these earmarks must still be agreed to by the Senate and signed by Governor Maura Healey before the money can be released to the town.
The $25,000 earmark for the RMHS performing arts department will help provide opportunities for local students to learn about digital music production. The money will be used to purchase a classroom set of Nord Stage 3 88 Stage Keyboards.
An additional $60,000 secured by Jones and Haggerty will assist with gravestone, monument and stonewall restoration at the Laurel Hill Cemetery, which is located in the center of Reading’s downtown area and is the final resting place of over 200 Civil War soldiers, sailors and marines. The House has earmarked $35,000 of this funding for the town to hire a certified preservationist who will work to repair and stabilize the various stones and monuments in the cemetery to properly honor the sacrifices made by those who are buried there.
The remaining $25,000 will assist the Reading Department of Public Works as it performs masonry repairs on a portion of the perimeter stone wall abutting Laurel Hill Cemetery. The planned repair work will help to address several existing structural deficiencies in the wall.
“The funding included in the House budget will provide additional music education opportunities to Reading’s students while also honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation,” said Representative Jones. “Representative Haggerty and I will continue to advocate on the town’s behalf to help ensure that this funding is retained in the final state budget.”
“This budget reflects our values by further investing in education and infrastructure, as well as making sure the Commonwealth and its residents can continue to compete in a dynamic economy,” said Representative Haggerty. “I am particularly pleased Reading will benefit from the direct funding for the RMHS Performing Arts program, historic improvements to Laurel Hill Cemetery, and the allocation of money for free school meals for our school children. Furthermore, the local aid resources will help our communities support public safety efforts and the general operations of our municipality. I look forward to working with Representative Jones for these resources as the state budget process continues.”
The budget now heads to the Senate, which is expected to begin debating its own spending proposal the week prior to Memorial Day. The differences between the House and Senate versions of the budget will then be resolved by a joint conference committee, which will produce a final spending plan to send to Governor Healey.