While we are all still holding on to the last vestiges of the warm breezes of summer, most of you are likely back from vacations, and some even back to school! At this time of transition, I wanted to update you on my work and adventures over the past few months.
Further details on the following topics can be found toward the end of this issue:
As a legislator, it is critical that I hear from my constituents in order to know what issues are most important to you. To facilitate this, I recently launched a survey seeking your input. To send in your feedback, please visit https://bit.ly/2NvFl7B and answer the 10 simple questions!
Ice Cream Social
My ice cream social at the Lexington Depot was a highlight of the summer for me with over 75 people participating. It was a delicious way for me to hear from constituents, get input and ideas, and reconnect. The event was so successful, perhaps we’ll make it annual!
Fiscal Year 2020 Budget
As a new legislator, this was my first budget, and I was pleased to find that the process provided me with an opportunity to advocate for both my district and the Commonwealth as a whole. The budget is a statement of values, and I used my voice to articulate how funding impacts people in real ways. Among other items, I fought for increased funds for Chapter 70 education aid, preserving and protecting our environment, the Community Preservation Act (CPA), METCO, the District Local Technical Assistance program, regional planning, and transportation, among many other critical areas. I am also excited that I was able to secure two new transportation-related budget amendments that I introduced specifically for the 15th Middlesex District. The $43.1 billion budget my colleagues and I passed in July includes substantial investments in education, health care, mental health and substance use disorder services, housing, and local aid.
My two budget amendments will help to improve transportation throughout Lexington and Woburn.
Other 15th Middlesex District Highlights
COMMUNITY PRESERVATION ACT
For the first time in nearly 20 years, the budget will increase the Commonwealth’s contribution into the Community Preservation Act, which will ensure that over $36 million more will be distributed to projects all across Massachusetts and help raise the state’s match up to 30 percent for investments in open space, affordable housing, and historic preservation. Lexington was one of the first communities to fully take advantage of the CPA when it was introduced, and I am pleased to see the General Court’s commitment to continuing this highly successful program.
The METCO program has a proven record of success and has had a deeply meaningful impact in my district, specifically in Lexington. For this reason, I was pleased to see it funded at $24,500,000, a $2 million increase over FY19. Segregation is a major driver of educational inequality, and our schools are more segregated now than they have been since the 1950s. The METCO program exists in order to mitigate this persistent trend, which has been on the rise since the 1980s. Students who are educated in diverse environments build critical thinking and problem solving skills while developing cross-racial friendships. This leads to societal benefits as these students grow up, making them more likely to live in diverse neighborhoods, participate in community activities, and push for increased investments in equitable housing, policing, and economic policies. The fact that this program even has to exist is troubling, but until we as a Commonwealth reach the point where our schools are truly integrated, it is a necessary solution to bringing access to students who so desperately need and deserve it. METCO is a national model for school desegregation, helping to ensure that students from Boston have access to topnotch schools while increasing diversity in the surrounding suburban school districts.
This budget makes a significant down payment on the work of the Foundation Budget Review Commission (FBRC) and funds Chapter 70 at its highest level ever, providing $5.17 billion in education funding, a $268 million increase for investments in schools over FY19. Lexington schools will receive $14,438,034 under this budget and Woburn schools will receive $9,422,229, an increase over FY19. Also included is a $10.5 million reserve for low-income students while the Joint Committee on Education continues its work on this issue.
UNRESTRICTED GENERAL GOVERNMENT AID (UGGA)
The budget increases UGGA by nearly $30 million, allocating $6,357,286 in Woburn and $1,627,400 in Lexington to support community investments in education, health care, public safety, and roads and bridges.
While our region is home to a growing number of 21st century biotech companies, many of our transit hubs and job centers, including Hanscom Air Force Base, are surrounded by inadequate transportation infrastructure. The transportation sector is one of the primary drivers of carbon emissions, posing a daunting threat to our health and the environment. Immediate action is required to avoid the impending environmental crisis while preparing our economy for the jobs of the future, and this budget is a solid step in the right direction. I’m looking forward to working on the transportation finance puzzle this fall to help begin to provide the revenue needed not only to address the backlog of infrastructure maintenance needs, but to help put us on the path to creating a forward-thinking, dynamic, and responsive transportation system that delivers healthy options for commuters while reducing emissions and cutting congestion.
To view the FY20 budget report, please visit:
In July, I voted with my colleagues in the House to unanimously pass legislation that would invest $1.3 billion in helping cities and towns across Massachusetts fund infrastructure projects aimed at fighting climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The legislation would establish a $1 billion, 10 year grant program, known as GreenWorks, to fund clean energy, energy efficiency, and climate change resiliency measures that cut greenhouse gas emissions, fortify critical infrastructure, and reduce municipal expenses. It would also invest $325 million in other municipal green energy projects.
As policy makers, we cannot wait to take bold action to address the climate crisis, which is why I was so pleased to support this legislation that would make the Commonwealth a leader in the fight against climate change. I worked on many green initiatives throughout my time on the Lexington Select Board, and I continue to bring that passion for protecting and preserving our environment to the State House.
Modeled after the Commonwealth’s MassWorks program, GreenWorks would fund projects that improve climate preparedness and resiliency, promote or produce clean energy or energy efficiency, build energy storage facilities, implement measures included in Massachusetts’ statewide climate adaptation strategy, or otherwise help mitigate the impacts of climate change or reduce carbon emissions.
The Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs would accept applications annually and administer the program, which is funded through the issuance of bonds. In addition, the legislation makes targeted investments of $325 million in energy infrastructure, including:
The bill is now with the Senate for consideration.