BOSTON – Last week State Representative Shawn Dooley (R-Norfolk) joined with his colleagues in the House of Representatives and State Senate to approve a $41.88 billion state budget for Fiscal Year 2019. After a lot of hard work; advocacy; and collaboration with area legislators, Representative Dooley was proudly able to get several important lines of funding included for key projects in his district. The budget now sits before Governor Charlie Baker who has until July 28th to review it.
For Dooley’s district, which encompasses Norfolk; Plainville; and Wrentham as well as parts of Millis; Medfield; and Walpole, highlights of the FY19 budget include:
$100,000 for school safety improvements in the King Philip, Norfolk, Plainville, and Wrentham Public School Districts
$50,000 for improvements to the City Mills Dam in Norfolk
$50,000 for the purchase of a new van for senior citizen transportation in Millis
Mitigation funding for the Town of Wrentham for hosting the Wrentham Developmental Center
Prison mitigation funding for MCI-Norfolk and MCI-Cedar Junction
$30,000 for a suicide awareness campaign in Medfield
$60,000 for the renovation of the Millis High School auditorium
$50,000 for improvements to Joe Morgan Field in Walpole
$75,000 for the renovation of the Old Walpole Town Hall
“I am ecstatic to have helped fund such large investments in my district” said Dooley. “From day one my goal has been to make sure that the taxpayers of my district are able to benefit from a state government that is responsive to their needs. These key funding items are certainly a step in that direction. I am hopeful that Governor Baker will work with us to sign these allocations into law.”
In addition to these projects, the budget provides for increased local aid for cities and towns along with significant investments in mental health, substance abuse, education, and elder services.
Mental health and substance abuse programs will see significant funding increases this year with the budget providing for an increase of $102.5 million to $488.7 million for adult community mental health services. The Bureau of Substance Abuse Services is also scheduled to receive $9.3 million more than last year and funding for secure treatment facilities for opiate addiction will jump from $1.9 million to $5 million, a one-year increase of 157.7%.
Additionally, a total of $4.91 billion is allocated in the budget for public elementary and secondary school educational aid, also known as Chapter 70, which represents a statewide increase of $160.6 million, or 3.4%, over Fiscal Year 2018 levels. Local school districts will also benefit from increases in the Special Education Circuit Breaker and Regional School Transportation accounts. Circuit breaker reimbursements have been funded at $319.3 million, an increase of $25.6 million over Fiscal Year 2018, while Regional School Transportation has been increased by $7.4 million, to a total of $68.9 million.
Finally, the budget includes $17.8 million in grants to local Councils on Aging while providing for a grant rate of $12 per elder compared to $9.70 per elder last year. Funding for elder protective services and elder home care case management is set at $31.6 million and $58.9 million, representing increases of $2.9 million and $6.7 million, respectively.
“I’ve yet to see a perfect budget in my time as a legislator, and this one is no exception” said Dooley. “We continue to spend and spend without addressing the primary cost drivers in our budget and exploring areas where we can save. That being said, I am hopeful that this budget is a step in the right direction. I was excited to see the focus on mental health, education, and elder services this year. All of these areas are areas that we continue to underfund year after year, yet play a huge role in the lives of almost everyone in the Commonwealth. From the opiate crisis to student performance to health care, I think the investments we made will result in big improvements here in the Commonwealth and hopefully help take pressure off of the budgets of our cities and towns.”