BOSTON – As the State Senate concluded its debate on the Fiscal Year 2019 state budget, Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury) announced that many of his amendments were adopted as part of the final budget package. The amendments seek to bolster funding for programs and institutions that serve residents of the Second Worcester District and the Commonwealth at-large.
“I take pride in advocating for the needs of our neighbors, and prioritizing funding that will help strengthen our region,” said Senator Moore. “No state budget is ever perfect, but there are many important investments in this Senate budget that will help our communities grow and thrive. I am particularly proud of the strong investments in public education achieved through the passage of this legislation.”
The final Senate budget funds Chapter 70 local education aid at its highest level ever. This increased education investment allows for a minimum aid increase of at least $30 per pupil over FY 2018 for every school district across the state and 100% effort reduction to bring all school districts to their target local contribution.
Among the Moore-sponsored amendments adopted during the debate was $50K to support the new Blackstone Heritage Corridor Visitor Center opening in Worcester this summer. The Visitor Center will welcome tourists, families, and recreational enthusiasts to explore Worcester and the surrounding region’s cultural organizations, eateries, and businesses. This multi-use facility will also serve as the headquarters of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation in the Central Region.
In addition to filing an amendment to provide $1.7M to fund early college programs to increase postsecondary completion rates, Senator Moore successfully advocated for a number of amendments to support local priorities including:
• $50K – to assist the Town of Auburn in replacing their primary emergency radio system
• $57K – for the Town of Grafton to install two more emergency sirens to warn residents of an emergency at the Grafton-Upton Railroad propane facility
• $50K – for park renovations and accessibility improvements in the Town of Leicester
• $65K – to purchase protective clothing for firefighters in the Town of Millbury and technology upgrades at the Police Department
• $50K – to fund a feasibility study in the Town of Shrewsbury on the community’s public safety communications system
• $43K – to replace defibrillators in the Town of Upton
Cognizant of the devastating effects of Lyme Disease and its impact on thousands of residents across the Commonwealth, Senator Moore successfully advanced an amendment to form a pilot program at the MassBiologics Division of UMass Medical School to support Lyme Disease treatment research and development.
Senator Moore also filed an adopted amendment to increase funding for court-appointed special advocate programs across the state. The programs serve abused and neglected children in court proceedings, and assist the judges in determining what is in the best interest of the child.
Moreover, Worcester County has seen a significant increase in care and protection cases for child abuse and neglect and the courts continue to see a high number of cases filed by the Department of Children and Families. This increase in cases has stretched the judicial resources of Worcester County which led Senator Moore to successfully pursue another amendment to add, by statute, an additional justice to the Worcester Juvenile Court.
Senator Moore also secured $500K to increase funding for the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine located in North Grafton. The institution is the only veterinary school in the six-state New England region and was established as a public-private partnership between the Commonwealth and Tufts University.
Within Central and Western Massachusetts, there is a significant health disparity for young people and adults diagnosed with mental health needs and accompanying complex conditions such as autism and intellectual disabilities. Senator Moore offered an amendment that was adopted by the Senate to support the Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders based at the UMass Medical School that will help sustain the vital services offered through the program.
Through another amendment, Senator Moore advocated for $100K in additional funding for the Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science which is a free, co-educational, public school in Worcester that serves eleventh and twelfth grade students in partnership with Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Differences between the Senate version of the State Budget, S.4, will now be resolved with a version of the budget passed by the House of Representatives last month. To continue tracking the state budget, please visit the Legislature’s website, www.malegislature.gov.