Sen. Dean A. Tran, Special to MediaNews Group
On July 22, I, along with my colleagues in the House and Senate, voted to send the long-awaited FY2020 state budget to Gov. Baker’s desk. During this budget, I have worked diligently to ensure that the final Fiscal Year 2020 budget is one that addresses the priorities of the Worcester and Middlesex District and targets funding gaps, particularly in education and public safety. I am proud to say that the adopted Massachusetts FY2020 budget, contains the largest year-over-year increase in Chapter 70 education funding ever proposed by the Senate.
The budget imposes no new taxes nor does it hinge on one-time revenues. It also realizes $952 million in surplus revenue that allowed us to add an additional $317 million for the betterment of our state while increasing the Commonwealth Stabilization Fund (also known as the “Rainy Day Fund”) to $3.3 billion, the highest level ever.
Education has always been a top priority of mine. I am happy to announce that the FY2020 budget funds Chapter 70 education at $5.17 billion, fully funds the Special Education Circuit Breaker at $345 million, and appropriates $75.8 million for Regional School Transportation reimbursement. I strongly advocated for these important topics in the Senate and they remain in the final budget, beating out the House recommendations, which were much lower.
To combat the opioid epidemic, the budget committed $150.2 million for the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services. This funding level will help create five new, badly-needed recovery centers across Massachusetts. When it comes to funding for public safety, this budget puts $11 million towards Shannon Grants, a competitive grant program to individual municipalities to address heightened levels of gang violence.
Other statewide priorities that I supported include $7 million for the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund, $16 million for summer jobs for at-risk youth, $17 million for councils on aging across the state, and $4.8 million for a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) starter academy to aid underperforming students interested in pursuing STEM careers at our community colleges.
As the senator for the Worcester and Middlesex District, it is my job to represent my constituents. Our residents have put their faith in me twice now to get things done for them on Beacon Hill and I hope I have lived up to their expectations. I am proud to say that the final budget contains over $1,100,000 worth of amendments I submitted. This is split between a number of local projects that we carefully selected based on their need.
I am also especially proud to have been able to increase funding for On-Site Academy in Westminster. This amazing recovery and support center provides critical services to law enforcement, fire, emergency medical, corrections and other first responders in their time of need.
This budget is the culmination of months of listening to constituents, interest groups, local institutions and businesses and some good old-fashioned negotiating. I am very proud of how this budget turned out and I am looking forward to the release of these funds as well next year’s budget season.
Sen. Dean A. Tran represents the Worcester and Middlesex District, which includes Townsend.