By: State Rep. Linda Dean Campbell – 09-22
The Massachusetts Legislature finalized major pieces of legislation before formal sessions ended – including several billion-dollar funding bills that will bring significant funding to the Merrimack Valley. I was proud to secure earmarks in these bills for important projects in the district.
Economic Development & Tax Relief: Most disappointing is that legislative leaders could not produce a final economic development and tax relief bill before formal sessions ended. It would have provided significant investments in the Merrimack Valley and in community hospitals, housing, workforce growth, small businesses, food security, and tax relief for residents. This is a massive let-down for so many families, businesses, and organizations that urgently need this financial support.
Without this bill, many businesses and families will struggle. For example, the funding for community hospitals was critically needed by Lawrence General Hospital to help them stay afloat. Legislative leaders must make this right and find a solution to get this bill across the finish line in the coming months.
Transportation & Infrastructure Funding: The Massachusetts Legislature finalized, and Governor Baker signed, an $11.3 billion transportation and infrastructure bill. I was proud to secure $1.2 million in bond funding to install sidewalks along Tyler Street in Methuen, from Route 113 to Westwind Drive. This is a critical project for public safety
This bill also includes $400 million for the MBTA to address immediate safety concerns; $275 million for the East-West passenger rail project that will provide great economic benefits; billions of dollars for road, bridge, and rail improvements, plus $110 million for road paving; and funding for electric vehicles and more sustainable transit systems. These investments will have a tangible impact on the everyday lives of commuters and residents across the state.
Annual State Budget: The Legislature passed, and Governor Baker signed, a $52.7 billion annual state budget that takes a responsible fiscal approach – investing in the immediate needs of our workforce and working families, while safeguarding against economic difficulties that may lie ahead.
This budget substantially increases direct aid to cities and towns. Methuen is slated to receive $56.6 million in Chapter 70 education funding (an increase of nearly $8 million over last year) and roughly $6.3 million in general government aid. Haverhill is slated to receive $73.9 million in Chapter 70 education funding (an increase of nearly $9 million over last year) and roughly $11.4 million in general government aid.
With the support of the Methuen and Haverhill state delegations, I was ale to secure funding for the following local initiatives – a great win for our communities!
• $200,000 for upgrades at Greycourt State Park in Methuen. Greycourt is a true historic gem with unlimited potential for hosting community events, and this funding will help with safety upgrades and expanded parking to increase usage of the park.
• $50,000 to expand mental health services in Methuen schools. For many years, this earmark has improved Methuen students’ access to high-quality mental health services – establishing Methuen as a statewide model for school mental health.
• $50,000 for building improvements at Cogswell ArtSpace in Haverhill, including needed electrical upgrades. Cogswell will be an incredible community resource, expanding access to the arts for all. This is a great win for our community!
I was also proud to secure funding for statewide initiatives supporting our students and educators, including:
• $2,000,000 for civics education, a record funding level that is $500,000 greater than in previous years! Much of this funding goes directly to school districts to support implementation of the state’s 2018 civics education law that I sponsored. This is a big win for our schools, as this funding is in very high demand!
• $500,000 for school bridge programs, which help students catch up and transition back into the classroom after an extended absence due to a physical or mental health condition. School bridge programs have proven incredibly effective at improving academic outcomes and reducing drop-out rates.
Other highlights include increased education funding in line with the Student Opportunity Act’s seven-year plan, unprecedented investments in affordable child care services and providers, increased funding for housing assistance programs like RAFT and MRVP, millions of dollars for job training and workforce development, and a sizeable contribution to our “rainy day” fund (which has a historic balance of over $7 billion) to prepare for economic uncertainty.
Funding for Government Upgrades: A roughly $5.2 billion general government bond bill has been signed into law to fund many of the government’s critical infrastructure needs. This funding will modernize state facilities such as our courts, public universities, public safety buildings, and health care centers. The law will also fund successful grant programs that help our cities and towns to address housing, clean water, workforce, and food security needs.
As Chair of the Joint Committee on Advanced Information Technology, the Internet and Cybersecurity, I am glad that this law also makes investments in cybersecurity and technological upgrades across state government. These investments are increasingly important across all levels of government to improve efficiency and security.
State Representative Linda Dean Campbell represents the cities of Methuen and Haverhill in the State Legislature. She serves as House Chair of the Joint Committee on Advanced IT, the Internet and Cybersecurity. She can be reached at Linda.Campbell@mahouse.gov or (617) 722-2676. ◊