In Newsletters, The People's Blog, Updates from Jo

Greetings,

We have a Senate budget! 

Read on for a summary of our team’s budget priorities, followed by a calendar of events (and pictures of the cutest possible goat and lamb).

On Thursday evening, the Senate passed a $47.7 billion budget after adding $63.7 million in targeted investments during three days of debate.

Although the action on the Senate floor takes place during “budget week,” these three days of debate are really the culmination of a months-long process of research, calls, meetings, letters, one-pagers, and more meetings. Thank you to the more than 100 of you who contacted my office to advocate for your budget priorities.

Last session we did two fiscal year budgets (one in-person and one remotely) as well as two supplemental budgets (one in-person and one remotely). Those experiences were useful this year: When the Senate budget process began, my team and I knew exactly what to expect and how to advocate both remotely and in-person to advance district priorities. 

The budget initially released from the Senate Ways and Means committee contained many state-wide priorities like education funding and local aid as well as some key local priorities upon release. During the floor debate, my team and I secured a dozen amendments. In total, we added $4,232,000 to the budget, of which $1,232,000 will return directly to the Hampshire, Franklin, Worcester district with more potentially benefiting constituents via forthcoming public health grants:

  • $110,000 for operation of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Hampshire County and the Children’s Advocacy Center of Franklin County and the North Quabbin.
  • $150,000 for pediatric sexual assault nurse examiner services for children in Hampshire County, Franklin County and the North Quabbin who have experienced sexual abuse.
  • $422,000 to establish a Safe Havens program in Hampshire and Franklin counties, to provide shelter and a bed to people experiencing homelessness and mental health issues.
  • $3,000,000 for grants to local boards of health, bringing total FY22 Senate funding to $13,000,000.
  • $40,000 for the Franklin Regional Council of Governments to continue funding a rideshare pilot program, which I initially funded through the FY20 budget, offering Lyft or Uber rides for social service recipients in Franklin County.
  • $100,000 for the Franklin Regional Council of Governments for grants to Franklin County municipalities to assist with crisis response programs and police reform costs.
  • $90,000 for the Town of Amherst’s crisis response efforts.
  • $150,000 for the City of Northampton’s community care initiative.
  • $35,000 for Community Action Pioneer Valley for expenses related to a new social service program.
  • $50,000 for veterans mediation services administered by Quabbin Mediation, secured in partnership with Senator Anne Gobi.
  • $10,000 for the Town of Whately.
  • $25,000 for the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce to provide a grant for the reconstruction of the Wendell Meetinghouse in Wendell.
  • $25,000 for the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce to provide a grant to the Shea Theater Arts Center.
  • $25,000 for the David Ruggles Center for History and Education to help fund building expenses.

The FY22 budget did not rely upon any of the American Rescue Plan funding that has come into the Commonwealth but the legislature does expect to have a hand in directing much of that funding. During debate, I urged my colleagues to increase funding for public higher education, to fight food insecurity, and for local boards of health and health departments when we do allocate American Rescue Plan funds.

The budget passed by the Senate will now go to a joint conference committee to be reconciled with the budget passed by the House and then sent to the Governor for his signature. Thanks to Senate President Karen Spilka and Senate Ways and Means Chair Michael Rodrigues for leading the Senate through this process and for the willingness to listen and receive advocacy throughout. 

What’s next?

We’re turning immediately to the allocation of American Rescue Plan funds and work around the end of the State of Emergency with thanks to municipal and public health leaders who are raising their voices.

 


 

Upcoming events:

June 3: A forum on visionary policies for healthy and safe schools. Info here.

June 4: Joint Committee on COVID-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management conducts a hearing on hurricane and natural disaster preparedness. Info here.

June 7: Joint Committee on Public Health conducts a hearing on women’s and reproductive health. Info, here.

June 21: Redistricting hearing for CD1 (Congressman Neal’s district). Info here. Read my blog, 7 things to know about redistricting, here.

June 23: Spread the word! The Work and Family Mobility Act is having a hearing. Info on how to sign up to testify at the virtual hearing and/or submit written testimony is here.

Out and about

I had the honor of touring Franklin County’s outstanding vaccination site at Greenfield Community College, which is a stellar operation thanks to the staff and volunteers. This site will vaccinate 10,000 with huge thanks to Franklin Regional Council of Governments, GCC, and hundreds of Medical Reserve Corps members. This is people power, regional equity, and western Mass spirit at its very best. It’s a demonstration of the power and capability of local communities to care for our own. And so much more. Deeply grateful to Western Massachusetts Health and Medical Coordinating Coalition (HMCC) manager Tracy Rogers and her team.

Reminder: GET VACCINATED! There’s ample supply in western Massachusetts. More info, here.

Sending our love to you,

Jo, Sam, Jared, Brian, Elena, and Cameron

P.S. In the latest Dear Jo via The Daily Hampshire Gazette, I make the case for cherishing public higher education. Read it here.

I also testified about cherishing public higher education during the Joint Committee on Public Higher Education hearing.

P.P.S. There’s nothing that screams late spring more than hugging a goat and a lamb.

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