The Massachusetts State Senate debated the Fiscal Year 2015 state budget last month where I advocated for key provisions that will be beneficial to the constituents of my district. Below are some of the notable district specific priorities that were included in the final budget:
• $300,000 for the Methuen Stadium
This funding is vital to the City of Methuen to continue the momentum in providing a safe and modern environment for the residents of Methuen and visitors that utilize the stadium and will be used to apply toward renovating the athletic field area.
• $175,000 for the Early College Program offered to Amesbury and Haverhill High School Students through Northern Essex Community College.
The Early College program is an opportunity for high school students to take college level courses and earn college credit while still in high school. This program helps prepare students for college, and also saves students money and time. To date, Haverhill and Amesbury have participated in the Early College program. Amesbury’s most recent school budget cut the city’s Early College program. This money will restore the initiative so students can continue to take advantage of this educational opportunity.
• $90,000 for the C-10 Research & Education Foundation of Newburyport for the purposes of providing radiological monitoring of Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant.
The C-10 Research and Education Foundation (C-10) was established in 1991 to address the health and safety issues related to the Seabrook Station nuclear power plant. C-10 evolved from citizens within the 10 mile radius, a 5,000 member organization founded in 1986 to challenge evacuation plans for the Seabrook Station reactor. C-10 is the only citizens’ radiological monitoring organization in the country that has monitored emissions from a nuclear reactor from the moment it generated energy. Funding this program would assist in independent citizens’ monitoring of airborne radiation levels within the ten mile radius of Seabrook Station reactor. This data is compiled and graphed, with monthly reports submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and MEMA.
• 90% funding reimbursements for regional school transportation costs that benefit Merrimac and Salisbury.
Regional School Transportation is a critical form of funding for our regional school districts, Pentucket and Triton Regional School District. These schools developed with the incentive of being able to rely on 100% reimbursement of transportation costs. In the past few years, progress has been made toward reaching the statutory mandate of 100% reimbursement, but there is still work to be done.
• Up to a $25 million transfer from consolidated net surplus to the Community PreservationTrust Fund which directly assists North Andover and Newburyport.
This allows adopting communities to establish a dedicated local fund for open space, parks, playgrounds and athletic fields, and preserve historic buildings, natural areas and farmland.
• $2.5M in new funding for the Shannon Grant program, for a total funding level of $8.25M that will make more money available for Merrimack Valley municipalities when applying for grants.
The Shannon Community Safety Initiative grants are awarded to communities with high levels of youth violence and gang problems to create anti-gang programs and provide extra patrols to curtail violent activity.
• The Foundation Budget Review Commission will be reconstituted, requiring the Commission to determine the educational programs and services necessary to achieve the Commonwealth’s educational goals.
The Commission was established in 1993 in Chapter 70 of the General Laws, but has only met two times over, the last time decade. Under this amendment, the Commission would convene to fulfill its duty to examine the foundation budget and report back to the legislature next year.
• $25,000 to promote recreational activities along the Merrimack River through the River Cities Initiative.
One of the most valuable resources and economic treasures connecting my district is the Merrimac River. Being able to travel from Haverhill to Newburyport on the Merrimack will grow small businesses, attract people to restaurants and historic attractions and promote recreational activities such as rowing through school sports and public use.
• Policy from a bill I filed was included through the budget process which would require a nursing home, rest home, or other long term care facility to first obtain informed written consent if psychotropic medications are to be administered, along with a description of the side effects.
Prior to this legislative change, there was no state regulation or law requiring doctors or nursing homes to notify families that anti-psychotic or other psychotropic medication are being prescribed.
I look forward to expanding upon additional important items included in the FY15 State Budget in next month’s column.
You can contact Senator Ives office at Maria.Syrniotis@masenate.gov