Included in a $36.38-billion balanced budget for the coming fiscal year, passed by the Massachusetts Senate on Thursday, May 22, are many significant initiatives for the Cape and Islands, reports Cape and Islands Senator Dan Wolf (D-Harwich).
“This budget provides funds for many important programs, from economic stimulus to environmental protection, education support, and cultural activities,” said Wolf. “It doesn’t fund all our needs, or address all our problems. But it includes many successes.”
A number of funding requests supported by Senator Wolf emerged in the Senate’s budget. Some are Cape and Islands specific, others impact the entire Commonwealth. They include:
- $300,000 for the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies and the Coalition for Buzzards Bay to support water and wildlife monitoring along coastal areas;
- $12 million in funding for the Massachusetts Cultural Council;
- $750,000 to help place nearly 30 acres of sensitive dunes and coastal barrier lands in Dennis into conservation protection, which will in turn help protect shellfish propagation on Cape Cod;
- $310,000 in funding for the Plymouth 400th Anniversary Celebration, which will include support for a companion celebration in Provincetown;
- $100,000 in funding for a Work Maturity Skills pilot program, to move women from domestic violence shelters to long-term employment and financial stability;
- $350,000 to keep 11 Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism visitor information centers open through Columbus Day 2015;
- $3.65 million for the Alternative Housing Voucher Program;
- $100,000 for shellfish propagation activities in Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket counties;
- $14.1 million for the Department of Conservation and Recreation;
- $12.2 million for YouthWorks, a program designed to build stronger communities by providing at-risk youth with work experience, educational activities, and leadership opportunities;
- $100,000 for Children’s Cove, which provides coordinated and comprehensive multidisciplinary services to child victims of sexual and physical abuse;
- $40,000 for the Barnstable police department to continue an anti-drug street crime unit within the town and surrounding communities; and
- $17.5 million for costs associated with reducing the waitlist for income eligible early education and child care programs.
- Increased funding for critically-needed, quality nursing home care throughout the Commonwealth.
In addition to spending, the Senate budget version also incorporates several important policy initiatives that Senator Wolf endorses:
- Expanding the Massachusetts Housing Court to cover Cape Cod and the Islands;
- Expanding the state’s “Bottle Bill” with new funding to go to the Community Preservation Act and the Brownfields Redevelopment Trust;
- Making the Interagency Council on Substance Abuse and Prevention a standing commission of the Commonwealth; and
- Establishing the ASSIST Act, which creates a commission that will map out a long-term strategy for dealing with treatment versus incarceration.
The budget will now go to a Conference Committee for reconciliation with the budget passed by the House of Representatives last month.
For more information on the FY 2015 budget, contact Senator Wolf’s office and visithttps://malegislature.gov/Budget/FY2015/Senate.