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House Passes Balanced Budget Funds Key Merrimack Valley Programs

 

By: State Rep. Linda Dean Campbell – May, 2019

The Massachusetts House of Representatives voted to approve $42.7 billion budget for the state’s upcoming fiscal year. The budget includes notable investments in education, housing, and public safety while keeping in line with revenue projections to ensure balanced spending. The House budget makes major investments in education, housing, substance use disorder services, health care, and other areas while projecting a more than $200 million deposit into the Stabilization Fund – bringing the fund’s balance to more than $2.5 billion to safeguard the future of vital programs and services.

The strength and collaboration of the Merrimack Valley House of Representatives Delegation contributed to much of our success this budget season.

I filed 17 amendments and worked closely with all members to secure $600,000 for Methuen and Haverhill and the Merrimack Valley, including:

• $300,000 for the Veterans Northeast Outreach Center in Haverhill
• $200,000 to resurface the Methuen High School track
• $50,000 for mental health services at Methuen High School
• $50,000 for the Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce

This funding will have a positive impact on economic development, education, mental health, and Veterans’ services in our region. I also joined with Representatives Andy Vargas, Christina Minicucci, and Lenny Mirra to secure $250,000 for the City of Haverhill to relieve debt still outstanding for Hale Hospital. The strength and collaboration of our Merrimack Valley delegation contributed to much of our success this budget season.

I also filed amendments adopted that allocated $2.5 million for statewide programs, including:

• An additional $750,000 for elder nutrition programs like Meals on Wheels
• $1.2 million for the Transitional Youth Early Intervention Probation Program
• $550,000 for Veterans’ mental health services provided by Home Base

The Transitional Youth Early Intervention Probation Program, piloted by UTEC in Lowell in 2018, provides support services to young adults ages 18-24 who are on probation and at a high risk of reoffending. This age group has the highest recidivism rate in the state, and the pilot program was very effective in reducing recidivism and improving social outcomes. The funding in the House budget will allow the program to double the number of individuals served.

Home Base is the first and largest private-sector mental health clinic in the state dedicated to serving Veterans of all eras and their families at no cost. The clinic, a partnership of the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital, has served over 21,000 Veterans living with mental health issues and has trained over 73,000 clinicians and first responders across the state on how best to respond to Veterans’ mental health needs. The funding will help Home Base to establish a statewide Veteran suicide prevention campaign and expand its clinician training initiative, thereby ensuring that Veterans in all regions of the state can access compassionate care within their own communities.

As Chair of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs, I also worked closely with House Leadership to usher in the adoption of a bundle of amendments put forth by my colleagues that added $1.03 million to the budget for Veterans’ services. The amendments allocated funds for Veterans outreach centers, American Legion posts, Veteran-related organizations, and war memorial construction projects across the Commonwealth. Together, these amendments increased the House’s investment in Veterans’ services to over $146 million.

The Senate will finalize its version of the state budget in late May. The House and Senate versions will then be negotiated before a final version is sent to Governor Baker’s desk for review.

State Representative Linda Dean Campbell represents the cities of Methuen and Haverhill in the State Legislature and serves as House Chair of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at Linda.Campbell@mahouse.gov or (617) 722-2380. ◊

ValleyPatriot

ValleyPatriot

The Valley Patriot is a free monthly print newspaper serving Northern Massachusetts, and Southern New Hampshire. The print edition is published by the 10th of each month and is distributed to 51 cities and towns.

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