By: State Rep. Linda Campbell
We are very fortunate to have a strong and experienced team of legislators in the Merrimack Valley House delegation. With the support of my colleagues, I was proud to secure state funding in the House budget for several specific needs in the Merrimack Valley, including:
• $50,000 for addiction recovery resources provided by the Methuen Police Department’s Community Addiction Resource Engagement Services (C.A.R.E.S) program
• $25,000 for the Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce to support our local business community (I was also proud to co-sponsor Rep. Andy Vargas’s amendment to secure $50,000 for the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce.)
• $100,000 in additional funding for UTEC to reduce gang violence and promote social opportunity among at-risk youth ages 18 to 25 in the Merrimack Valley
• $60,000 for student mental health services at Methuen High School
• $50,000 to replace playground equipment at Forest Lake Park in Methuen
• $15,000 for new fencing at Burnham Park in Methuen
• $50,000 for needed renovations at Cogswell ArtSpace in Haverhill
• $25,000 for the Merrimack River Watershed Council to protect the Merrimack River
• $125,000 to assist the City of Haverhill with Hale Hospital debt relief efforts (a joint request of the Haverhill delegation, filed by Rep. Andy Vargas)
I am also thankful to my colleagues in the Methuen House delegation for their support in signing on to my letter urging the Governor to immediately distribute to Methuen its fair share of federal COVID-19 relief funding. Our efforts were successful, thanks to action from the Legislature and the partnership of our local and federal officials. Methuen has now received an additional $26.3 million, which will be put to very good use to help the city recover from this pandemic.
Of note, the House budget also increases local aid and education funding for the Commonwealth’s cities and towns, with a total of $1.2 billion for local aid and $5.5 billion for Chapter 70 education funding. The increased education funding puts us on track to fulfill the Student Opportunity Act, a law passed in 2019 to make stronger, more equitable investments in our schools over the next several years.
The House budget includes investments in other areas of immediate need, such as $104 million for economic development programs (job training, small business assistance, manufacturing partnerships, youth job creation, and more); $30 million for emergency food assistance; $22 million for emergency rent assistance; $72 million for Veterans’ benefits; and $312 million for environmental protections, including river conservation.
As Chair of the Joint Committee on Advanced Information Technology, the Internet and Cybersecurity, I am proud that the House budget includes $44 million for core technology services and security, an increase of $1.1 million over last year. As cyber threats continue to emerge nationwide, this is a forward-looking investment that will grow our economy and protect consumers, businesses, and governments.
The state budget is currently being finalized by the House and Senate and will then be sent to the Governor for his review.
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 and as Chair of the Special Joint Oversight Committee on the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home COVID-19 Outbreak. She can be reached at Linda.Campbell@mahouse.gov or (617) 722-2380. ◊