Budget includes funds to support English language tutoring, provide Council on Aging transportation, and fight food insecurity
BOSTON – Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington), Representative Rich Haggerty (D-Woburn), and Representative Michelle Ciccolo (D-Lexington) recently joined their colleagues in passing a Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) conference committee budget, making substantial investments in education, health care, mental health and substance use disorder services, housing, and local aid. This $43.1 billion budget includes several key investments to support programs and services in the city of Woburn.
A six-member conference committee, which Senator Friedman served on, was established to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions of the FY20 budget. The committee reached consensus this week on a compromise spending plan for the new fiscal year that began on July 1, and it was approved by both legislative chambers on July 22.
Consistent with the General Court’s long-standing commitment to supporting increased investments in education, this budget makes a significant down payment on the work of the Foundation Budget Review Commission (FBRC), and funds Chapter 70 at its highest level ever, providing $5.17 billion in education funding, a $268 million increase for investments in schools over FY19. Woburn school districts will receive $9,422,229 under this budget, an increase over FY19. The budget also includes a $10.5 million reserve for low-income students while the Joint Committee on Education continues its work on this issue.
In addition, the budget increases Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) by nearly $30 million, allocating $6,357,286 to support community investments in education, health care, public safety, and roads and bridges for the city of Woburn.
Senator Friedman, Representative Haggerty, and Representative Ciccolo worked hard to ensure that the FY20 budget also includes the following critical funding for Woburn:
• $100,000 to support English language instruction for immigrants and refugees at English At Large in Woburn, which provides voluntary English language tutoring and instruction to adult learners;
• $95,000 to provide on-site English language tutoring and technical skills training to parents at Woburn Creative Start, an organization that provides high quality, licensed educational programs and child care in Woburn;
• $85,000 for Food Link MA, an organization that helps to fight food insecurity in Woburn and surrounding communities by delivering nutritious food, including fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, and eggs, to over 30 social services that serve low-income individuals in need;
• $25,000 for a transit access feasibility study for first mile/last mile shuttle buses. This study will analyze potential shuttle bus routes with an eye toward connecting Anderson Regional Transportation Center and Hanscom Air Force Base to key hubs throughout the region;
• $25,000 for design for a pedestrian footbridge over the tracks at Anderson; and
• $25,000 for the Woburn Council on Aging to procure a transportation van.
“The budget reflects the legislature’s strong commitment to increasing access to quality, affordable health care, ensuring that every student has the opportunity to receive a quality education, and expanding access to behavioral health services,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “Moreover, as our state continues to grapple with the opioid crisis, I’m especially proud that this budget makes strong investments in mental health treatment and harm reduction initiatives to ensure more resources for families and their loved ones.”
“I know how important it is to make sure Woburn has the tools it needs to educate children, support seniors, and improve public transit,” said Representative Rich Haggerty. “This budget reflects my priorities well by making the largest investment ever in Chapter 70 education funds. We have also empowered MassHealth to directly negotiate with drug manufacturers so that we can help drive down the costs of prescription drugs, and we have made a substantial contribution to the state’s rainy day fund.”
“While our region is home to a growing number of 21st century biotech companies, many of our job centers and transit hubs, including Anderson Regional Transportation Center, are surrounded by inadequate transportation infrastructure,” said Representative Michelle Ciccolo. “The transportation sector is one of the primary drivers of carbon emissions, posing a daunting threat to our health and the environment. Immediate action is required to avoid the impending environmental crisis while preparing our economy for the jobs of the future, and this budget is a solid step in the right direction.”
Having passed the House and Senate, the legislation now moves to the Governor’s desk. He has 10 days to review the budget and issue any vetoes.
To view the FY20 conference committee budget report, please visit https://malegislature.gov/Budget/ConferenceCommittee.