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Rep. Dykema Secures Funding for Local Priorities, At-Risk Youth in State Budget

by Representative Carolyn Dykema
May 5, 2018

 

State Representative Carolyn Dykema (D-Holliston) joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives to pass the state budget for fiscal year 2019, a $41 billion spending package that reflects conservative revenue projections for the coming year while prioritizing the Commonwealth’s most pressing needs, including local aid, education spending, and social services.

The House budget includes $4.8 billion for education aid to cities and towns, an increase of $124 million over FY18, as well as $300 million for the Special Education Circuit Breaker line item, which provides critical reimbursements to school districts for special education costs. It also includes a combined $19.5 million in aid to local and regional public libraries, as well as $75.9 million for veterans’ benefits. Senior Centers will see greater state support in FY19 as well, with an increase from $10 per elder to $12 per elder in the formula used to calculate grants to councils on aging.

In response to a request for assistance from the Town of Holliston, Rep. Dykema secured $40,000 in funding to replace the antiquated “school zone” light systems at each of Holliston’s four schools. Currently, the town has antiquated flashing light systems that are difficult and costly to maintain and repair. This funding will improve public safety around schools as well as support local efforts to upgrade the town’s infrastructure.

Two of the representative’s primary budget priorities focus on providing supports for at-risk and vulnerable youth in the Commonwealth. Rep. Dykema filed an amendment to increase funding to Massachusetts YMCAs to provide youth-at-risk grants to provide programming to low-income youth, including summer camp scholarships at the Hopkinton branch of the MetroWest YMCA. Over 100,000 youth were served by this grant, and the YMCAs are able to leverage state funding with private matching at a rate of 11:1. The final House budget included $1.3 million for YMCA Youth-At-Risk grants, as well as an additional $2.8 million for similar programs.

Rep. Dykema also jointly filed an amendment to increase funding for DCF’s Family Support and Stabilization services with Rep. Linda Dean Campbell of Methuen. This line item provides counseling, mental and behavioral health support, and additional wraparound services for DCF-involved youth to enable those children to remain with their families rather than being placed in foster care or expensive residential placements. This year’s House budget provides $49.4 million for family support and stabilization services, a $1.8 million increase over FY18 funding levels.

“The programs and services funded through this budget will have a profound impact on hundreds of thousands of youth across the Commonwealth,” said Rep. Dykema. “This robust funding could not be possible without Speaker DeLeo and Chairman Sánchez’s continuing leadership and strong commitment to supporting the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable residents.”

This year’s House budget also includes significant funding increases for environmental agencies and programs, an area in which Rep. Dykema has been a vocal advocate for increased funding. The Department of Environmental Protection received a $4.3 million increase in funding for programs that protect clean air and water, and the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Watershed Management program received $1.1 million, fulfilling a request that the representative has made each of the last three budget cycles. In addition, the Clean Water Trust is authorized to spend $63.4 million in contract assistance to municipalities for water infrastructure improvements, a 14% increase over FY18 levels.

“I'm pleased to support substantial additional funding for water quality and environmental protection programs, which have seen significant cuts in recent years,” said Rep. Dykema. “This renewed commitment to both watershed protection and infrastructure improvements reflects the importance of investing in our water resources.”

Other programs supported by Rep. Dykema that received funding increases include Regional Transit Authorities, which received a $2 million increase for the first time in several years, the NEADS program, which received $85,000 for service dogs for veterans, and the Meals on Wheels program, which received $750,000 to provide food assistance to seniors in need.

The final version of the House budget can be found online on the Legislature’s website at malegislature.gov. The proposed budget will now travel to the Senate for their version, which will be merged with the House version for the governor’s signature early in the summer.

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Representative Carolyn Dykema represents the communities of Holliston, Hopkinton, Southborough and Precinct 2 of Westborough in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

 

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