BOSTON – State Senator Don Humason announced today that the Senate and the House of Representatives have approved a finalized version of the Fiscal Year 2017 budget, which includes a number of the Senator’s priorities.
“It’s no secret that we’re in the midst of a difficult fiscal climate, but I am happy we are able to deliver an on-time budget that supports critical programs and services that our cities and towns rely on,” said Senator Don Humason. “I’m very appreciative that so many of my priorities were included in the Committee’s finalized proposal, and I thank my colleagues in the House and Senate for their collegiality and partnership throughout the process.”
During the Conference Committee’s deliberation, Senator Humason successfully advocated for the following local priorities, which were included in the final version of the budget:
- $150,000 for upgrades and repairs to Agawam Public Schools
- $50,000 for a one-stop service center for military and veteran students and their families at Westfield State University
- $15,000 for war memorial maintenance, renovations, and enhancements in Agawam, Southwick, and Easthampton
- $25,000 for safety improvements and restoration of the Westfield Athenaeum
- $50,000 to promote the Westfield International Air Show at the Westfield-Barnes Airport
- $50,000 for preparations in advance of the 350th Anniversary of the City of Westfield
- $25,000 to support community policing efforts in the City of Holyoke
- $10,000 to offset the cost of purchasing Narcan for the Holyoke Fire Department
- $54,000 to support local violence prevention programs for the South Holyoke Safe Neighborhood Initiative
- $100,000 to support Holyoke Community College’s Dual Enrollment Program for area high school students
The Committee also included a two policy-focused amendment filed by the Senator during the Senate budget. The first requires E-ZPass Transponders to be made available at all full services Registry of Motor Vehicle locations, expanding access to the devices in light of the coming transition to All-Electronic Tolling on the Turnpike.
The second policy priority seeks to ease elevator inspections on small elevators and chairlifts, often used infrequently in churches, clubs, and non-profits. The policy seeks to balance public safety assurances with cost savings from unnecessary inspection fees for these organizations.
Senator Humason also noted that statewide programs and services he is also supportive of were also included in the budget, such as:
- Providing $17.7 million for the Massachusetts Emergency Food Assistance Program
- $14.3 million for the Massachusetts Cultural Council
- Providing $61 million for Regional School Transportation Reimbursements
- Requiring long-term insurance coverage for Lyme Disease
- $1 million for the Substance Abuse Trust Fund
- Extending protections to municipal retirees from increased out-of-pocket healthcare costs
“I know well that the residents and local officials in the cities and towns I represent are best equipped to tackle obstacles and meet the needs of their communities when they have adequate resources,” said Senator Humason. “I was very happy to advocate for these items in the budget because they represent direct support to the residents in my district and the municipalities they live in.”
Without increasing taxes, the Senate’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget funds local aid for cities and towns at $1.02 billion, a 3% increase over Fiscal Year 2016 spending. Chapter 70 education funding received a $116 million increase benefitting every school district and bringing the total to $4.63 billion. The budget also increases funding for Councils on Aging to $14.8 million and fully funds the Special Education Circuit Breaker.
The six-member Conference Committee tasked with reconciling the House and Senate versions of the budget released their recommendations on Wednesday, and received final approval from both branches on Thursday.
With approval from both branches, the budget now heads to Governor Baker for his consideration. The Governor has the ability to veto provisions within the proposal, while the Legislature would then require a vote of 2/3 of the members in each branch to override any of the Governor’s vetoes.
Senator Humason represents the 2nd Hampden and Hampshire District, which consists of the cities of Agawam, Easthampton, Holyoke, Westfield, and parts of the city of Chicopee; and the towns of Granville, Montgomery, Russell, Southampton, Southwick and Tolland.
The Senator maintains a district office for the convenience of his constituents and encourages them to contact him at his district office at 64 Noble Street in Westfield, Massachusetts 01085, (413) 568-1366; or his Boston office, State House, Room 313A, Boston, Massachusetts 02133, (617) 722-1415. His email address is Donald.Humason@MASenate.gov .