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State budget worth waiting for: What's in it for Arlington

Cindy Friedman

UPDATED, July 28: The new state budget, passed three weeks after its legal deadline, has funds that Arlington's delegation finds worth touting.

In a joint news release, the three legislators provided local highlights for the $43.1 billion fiscal 2020 spending plan, which makes substantial investments in education, housing, mental health and substance-use disorder services, health care and local aid.

The budget projects a more than $476 million deposit into the “rainy-day” fund – bringing its balance to more than $3 billion, aiming to safeguard the future of vital programs and services.

Delegation joins colleagues

On Monday, July 22, state Sen. Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) and state Reps. Sean Garballey (D-Arlington) and David Rogers (D-Cambridge) joined their legislative colleagues to adopt the measure.

A six-member conference committee, on which Friedman served, was established to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions of the fiscal '20 budget. The committee reached consensus on a compromise spending plan for the new fiscal year, which began July 1.

Consistent with the General Court’s long-standing commitment to supporting increased investments in education, this budget makes a significant down payment on the work of the Foundation Budget Review Commission and funds Chapter 70 at its highest level ever, providing $5.17 billion in education funding, a $280-million increase for investments in schools over fiscal 2019. Arlington will receive $13,979,327 in Chapter 70 funds for education, an increase of more than $2 million from last year.

In addition, the budget increases unrestricted general government aid by nearly $30 million, allocating $8,056,055 to support community investments in education, health care, public safety and roads and bridges for the Town of Arlington.

Key funding for town

In addition, the delegation worked hard to ensure that the fiscal 2020 conference committee budget includes the following critical funding for Arlington:

  • $175,000 to support direct mental health counseling and case management for Arlington youth and their families provided by the Arlington Youth Counseling Center;
  • $100,000 for the Lussiano Playground adjacent to the Thompson Elementary School;
  • $85,000 for Food Link MA, an organization that helps to fight food insecurity in Arlington and surrounding communities by delivering nutritious food to more than 30 social services that serve low-income individuals in need;
  • $56,000 for the Jason Russell House and Smith Museum; and
  • $45,000 to provide late afternoon and evening transportation for METCO students attending public schools in Arlington.

Members comment

“The budget reflects the Legislature’s strong commitment to increasing access to quality, affordable health care, ensuring that every student has the opportunity to receive a quality education and expanding access to behavioral health services,” Friedman, vice chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, said in the July 26 news release.

“Moreover, as our state continues to grapple with the opioid crisis, I’m especially proud that this budget makes strong investments in mental health treatment and harm reduction initiatives to ensure more resources for families and their loved ones.”

Garballey said in the release: “This budget makes significant investments to important programs and initiatives within the Town of Arlington and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I am most pleased with investments made in the areas of education, early education and care, health care, support for housing and homeless families, and other investments that work to improve the lives of the most vulnerable citizens in our Commonwealth.”

Rogers added, “This is a budget that makes truly significant investments in a number of key areas. First and foremost, it is a big leap forward in education funding, including the largest increase in local school aid in a decade. In addition, funding for housing and homelessness and environmental programs received the biggest increase in a generation. And the budget also undertakes a big increase for the Community Preservation Act which will increase the state match available to Arlington for these important local programs.”

Having passed the House and Senate, the legislation now moves to the governor’s desk. He has 10 days to review the budget and issue any vetoes.

To view the FY20 conference committee budget report, click here >> 

This news announcement was published Friday, July 26, 2019, and updated to add link to aid estimates.

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