By: State Rep. Estela Reyes – 5-23
As the state representative for Methuen and Lawrence I have been focused on how the state’s budget can benefit my constituents in both communities.
When putting the state budget together, legislators are allowed to request “earmarks” for our districts. An earmark is when the legislature votes to allocate a specific amount of money for a specific project or non-profit requested by a representative.
I spent the bulk of my time last month on the House budget process trying to increase funding for the people of Methuen and Lawrence.
After much debate and discussion, I was able to secure $100,000 in local earmarks. Now, as a freshman representative this was no easy task, as these earmarks usually go to representatives who have been in the legislature the longest and have the most power on Beacon Hill.
Here are the earmarks I was able to secure in the House version of the budget bill:
* $25,000 – Beyond Soccer, Inc.
According to their website, Beyond Soccer is a sports-based youth development organization in Boxford that uses soccer to connect Lawrence youth to new experiences that build confidence and create opportunities for leadership, healthy living & academic achievement.
* $25,000 – Three Saints, Inc. (St. Alfio’s Society)
The Saint Alfio’s Society is a Catholic organization of Italian Americans who raise money for local charities through their annual Feast of the Three Saints on Common St. in Lawrence on Labor Day weekend. Over the last twenty years, The St. Alfio’s Society Organization has donated to various charitable organizations such as Lawrence History Center, Holy Rosary Shrine, Daybreak Shelter, National Pancreatic Cancer Foundation, Fidelity House, Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, Kiwanis Club, Lawrence Central Little League, American Red Cross, Creative Living, American Cancer Society, Methuen Festival of Trees, Central Catholic, Corpus Christi Parish, Bread & Roses, Camp Fatima, Holy Name Society, Saint Rita Sodality, New England Veterans Liberty House, Essex County Community Foundation, Immigrant City Archives, Professional Center for Child Development, Lawrence Heritage State Park, Methuen Firefighters Local 1691, YMCA, YWCA, Lawrence Vietnam Memorial, CLASS, Inc., and Lazarus House.
* $25,000 – Methuen Senior Center
As the representative for Methuen, I have heard your concerns for the need to provide better services to our seniors. During the campaign last year, Methuen voters told me over and over how Methuen seniors need more funding through the Senior Center. As someone who truly admires the great work of those who run the Senior Center, it has always been a huge priority for me to assist in allowing seniors to age in place.
I believe this is a good start towards increasing the amount of money needed to provide those services through the center. After many phone calls and meetings with state officials I was really happy for the people of Methuen that we were able to get this $25,000 and will continue to fight for more funding as we move forward.
* $25,000 – Merrimack Valley Prevention and Substance Abuse Project (MVPASAP).
There is no doubt that Phil Lahey and the people at MVPASAP are doing the work of the angels to help families deal with the opioid crisis and educate people on the devastation it has caused to so many of our families here in the Merrimack Valley. For years, the people at MVPASAP have done incredible work with very little funding and for a long time spending their own money to help the community.
I cannot tell you how honored I was to be in a position to bring home money for these organizations. I also want to thank Reps. Paulino and Hamilton.
As a side note, I am planning to add monthly office hours at City Hall and the Methuen Arlington Neighborhood in the upcoming month.
The state budget passed by the house, now moves to the state senate before these earmarks are finalized. In the coming weeks I will be working with Senator Payano to make sure these earmarks are approved.
If you have any questions, ideas, or concerns about the state budget please feel free to reach out to my office at Thomas.Baranowski@mahouse.gov. ◊