Budget Forum to be Held April 12

Brooks School, Medford – map

State Senator Pat Jehlen will be sponsoring a forum on the Massachusetts Budget on Tuesday, April 12. The forum will be dedicated to discussing the problems facing this year’s budget, and their potential solutions.

Noah Berger, president of Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget), will be on hand to explain the state’s budget shortfall, its causes, and potential remedies. As President of MassBudget, Mr. Berger leads a group that is dedicated to providing the public with clear and in-depth analysis of Massachusetts’ budget policies.
  
Thomas A. Kochan, Co–Director of the Institute for Work and Employment Research at MIT Sloan School of Management, will also be at the forum to discuss labor issues. Comparisons of the wages and benefits public and private sector employees receive have been commonplace in the media in recent weeks, and this is a great opportunity to get the facts about labor in Massachusetts.

There will also be time for questions and discussion following the presentation. I strongly suggest that anyone who has an interest in the budget should attend, as the issues that will be discussed are of vital importance to the short-term and long-term well-being of our state. Most of us know that the fiscal climate in Massachusetts is a tough one at the moment, but this forum is an excellent opportunity to learn about precisely what is at stake.

The forum will begin at 7:00 p.m. at the Brooks School, 388 High Street, Medford. There will be refreshments served at 6:45 p.m.

Budget Forum April 1st

Century Bank, 400 Mystic Ave, Medford map
right off Route 93, near Somerville
7-9pm

For anyone curious about the budget process going into the 2010 fiscal year, Senator Patricia Jehlen‘s office has organized an informational event in Medford, right near the Somerville border. Representatives Paul Donato, Jim Dwyer, Sean Garballey, Jason Lewis, Denise Provost, Carl Sciortino and myself are sponsoring the event as well.

The budget itself is a complex process, and if you would like to learn more, this forum will provide some answers. The speakers will include:

David Sullivan, Legal Counsel to the Governor’s Office of Administration and Finance
Noah Berger, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center
Judy Meredith, Executive Director of One Massachusetts

2007-2008 Formal Legislative Session Update

At the end of July, the House and the Senate wrapped up the 2007-2008 formal session with a list of legislative accomplishments that will help to significantly improve our state’s economy, environment, health care system and aging infrastructure.

The extent of our broad-reaching achievements in the legislature is in part thanks to our new Governor Deval Patrick – it is great to again have a democratic partner in the executive office to help us work towards a better Massachusetts for all citizens across the state.

The following sections detail highlights of important bills and spending initiatives passed and signed into law during the 2007-2008 Formal Legislative Session:

In the increasingly difficult and unstable fiscal climate, it is now more important than ever to the residents of Cambridge and Somerville that their elected officials on Beacon Hill are working to ensure their safety, the quality of their schools and hospitals, their economic stability, the sustainability of their environment and their quality of life. I’m proud to say at the end of the 2007-2008 formal legislative session that we have taken significant steps to address each of these areas, and that the productive efforts of the legislature will have a positive and meaningful impact on the citizens of our communities for many years to come.

From the Green Communities Act to the Child Abuse and Neglect Bill, from the Environmental, Housing and Transportation Bond Bills to the Municipal Partnership Act and increased local aid and Chapter 70 school aid, the wide range of initiatives signed into law over the past year and a half will benefit children, families, taxpayers and municipalities throughout the commonwealth.

I would like to thank the hundreds of people who called, emailed, and wrote in over the last year for making your voice heard on these important issues in the state and in our district. Please feel free to look through this legislative update and contact my office if you have any further questions or to let me know about your priorities going forward into the next session.

FY 2009 Local Aid for Cambridge and Somerville

In the Fiscal Year 2009 State Budget approved by the House and Senate and signed by the Governor, both Cambridge and Somerville saw increases in the amount of aid that they receive from the state. There are three types of assistance that cities and towns receive from the state:

1. Chapter 70 funding. The Chapter 70 program is the major program of state aid to public elementary and secondary schools.
2. Additional Assistance.
3. Lottery Aid funded through Lottery revenues.

All three types of assistance are crucial to municipalities, and I’m very pleased that we were able to oversee increases in the bottom line for both cities that I represent.

Cambridge:

$9,313,701

Chapter 70 Funding:

$17,956,060

Additional Assistance:

$8,781,240

Total Lottery Aid:

$36,054,001

Total:

$800,348

Total Increase over FY 2008:

Somerville:

$20,597,265

Chapter 70 Funding:

$16,219,924

Additional Assistance:

$13,901,505

Total Lottery Aid:

$50,718,694

Total:

$341,626

Total Increase over FY 2008:

Fiscal Year 2009 Budget

Fiscal Year 2008 Budget

*******

Read more about the 2007-2008 Formal Legislative Session:

FY 2009 Budget Highlights

Helping to craft our state budget is one of the most important parts of my job. Every year, the legislators across Massachusetts hear from their constituents about important priorities for funding within the district. Citizens and advocacy groups are encouraged to call, write, or come visit the State House to make sure their Representative knows the importance of funding specific local and state-wide projects. From there, legislators work closely with each other to build broad support, negotiate, and assign the limited funds of the state. It is not aways an easy process, especially during a year when the revenue for the state is significantly down.

I am proud of the combined efforts and cooperation of the Cambridge and Somerville delegations in the House and Senate to ensure that our cities received funding for so many of the important programs we rely on. Whether it was affordable housing, nutritional assistance, youth programs, homelessness prevention, adult basic education, early childhood education, family planning, adoption services, elder protective services, urban park funding, or local health care, our delegations stood together to give Cambridge and Somerville a powerful voice at the state level.

The following are just a few of the highlights from our finalized state budget that directly affect the residents of the 26th Middlesex district. All budget items listed below I sponsored or co-sponsored in the FY 2009 budget requests and budget amendments. They are either state-wide programs with a local impact, or local programs specific to Cambridge and Somerville.

Adult Basic Education/ESOL
For contracts and grants to provide and strengthen adult basic education services, including reading, ESOL, writing, and mathematics, to a diverse network of organizations which have demonstrated commitment and effectiveness in the provision of such services. The state-wide funding effects many organizations within Cambridge and Somerville.

Youthbuild
A youth and community development program that addresses core issues facing low-income communities: housing, education, employment, crime prevention, and leadership development.

Horizons For Homeless Children
For Playspace Programs operated by Horizons for Homeless Children. The Playspace Program provides homeless children in Massachusetts with the nurturing, stimulation and opportunities for early education and play to help them learn and grow in healthy ways.

Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP)
MRVP is the state’s rental assistance program, operated by the Department of Housing and Community Development for low-income families and individuals. The MRVP offers tenant-based vouchers that can be used for any approved apartment, and project-based vouchers that are restricted to certain rental units or developments.

Family Planning
For comprehensive family planning services for low income uninsured, underinsured residents of the Commonwealth, including HIV counseling and testing, HPV immunizations, community-based health education, outreach, and follow-up with at-risk populations.

Citizenship for New Americans Program
Gives low-income immigrants the opportunity to learn English and American civics, as well as receive help with the citizenship application process.

Alternative Dispute Resolution
For the continued funding of seventeen alternative dispute resolution centers in Massachusetts, including the Community Dispute Settlement Center, Inc. of 60 Gore St Suite 202, Cambridge and the Somerville Mediation Program of 337 Somerville Ave, Somerville, whose core missions are to offer a community-based forum for dispute resolution through mediation without involving the Commonwealth’s court system.

Computer Centers and the Work Force Program
For the Cambridge Housing Authority Tenant Services to operate 2 Community Computer Centers and the Work Force program. The Work Force program is an award-winning nationally recognized youth development program for adolescents living in the Cambridge Housing Authority’s subsidized housing.

Local Language-Specific Community Assistance
The following programs provide local language-specific assistance, including legal help, adult education, youth programs, and broader advocacy and involvement for immigrant rights.

Concilio Hispano
105 Windsor St, Cambridge
Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers (MAPS)
92 Union Square, Somerville
1046 Cambridge St., Cambridge
Haitian Coalition
268 Rear Powder House Blvd Apt # 17C, Somerville
Centro Presente
17 Inner Belt Road, Somerville

Support Services to the Children and Families Served by DSS After Adoption
For the Center for Family Connections at 350 Cambridge St, Cambridge, to provide therapeutic and rehabilitative mental health services, targeted research on well-being outcomes and permanency planning for older hard-to-place youth and those aging out of the system.

*******

Read more about the 2007-2008 Formal Legislative Session: