BOSTON (The Westfield News) – State Senator Don Humason announced recently that the Senate approved their Fiscal Year 2018 budget, which included a number of the Senator’s priorities, by a unanimous vote of 38-0.
“It’s recently become clearer that early expectations of the state’s economy were overestimated. With that imbalance in mind, I approached this budget with a keen eye towards balancing the revenues we have available to us with the needs of the Commonwealth’s residents, and particularly constituents in my district,” said State Senator Don Humason, a member of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “To that end, my primary focus was on modest investments in local projects around my district, as well as advocating for adequate funding for the direct local aid programs that support so many core services we rely on, like Chapter 70 education funding, libraries, councils on aging, public safety, and more.”
Senator Humason secured support in the Senate for the following local priorities in the Fiscal Year 2018 budget:
- $50,000 for improvements to MacKenzie Field in Holyoke
- $50,000 to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the City of Westfield
- $100,000 for repairs and improvements to Tolland’s Department of Public Works building
- $60,000 for an emergency generator for the Town of Southampton
- $25,000 for safety upgrades and restoration work at the Westfield Athenaeum
- $50,000 for to support the Westfield International Air Show at the Westfield-Barnes Airport
Additionally, the Senator filed a successful amendment that would require the Department of Transportation to examine the costs and economic impacts of adding an interchange along the Massachusetts Turnpike between Exits 2 and 3. The current distance between exits 2 and 3 is 30 miles, which is nearly a quarter of the total 138 miles that the Turnpike spans from Boston to the border with New York.
The Senate’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget includes funding for direct aid programs that cities and towns across the Commonwealth rely on. The state’s unrestricted aid for cities and towns was set at $1.06 billion. The budget provides $14.2 million for Councils on Aging, $20.2 million for local and regional libraries, and $16.5 million for cultural councils. In a continued effort to address the ongoing opioid crisis, the Senate committed $144.1 million for various substance abuse treatment, intervention, and recovery options. The Senate also took steps to implement recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission by providing $4.76 billion to local school districts in Chapter 70 education funding and fully funding the Special Education Circuit Breaker.
Senator Humason worked with his colleagues in the Republican Caucus to advocate on behalf of a number of amendments that aim to protect taxpayers and increase accountability, including the establishment of a commission tasked with reviewing and repairing the cash-strapped MBTA Pension Fund and the requirement of audits of the former state drug labs every two years. The Caucus also secured a successful amendment that would extend higher education financial assistance to children of public servants killed in the line of duty.
The House and Senate budget proposals will now be reviewed by a Conference Committee who will reconcile the differences between each version and produce a final Legislative proposal to submit before the Governor for his consideration.
Copyright 2017 The Westfield News