BOSTON – During recent debate, the State Senate adopted an amendment offered by local State Senator Mike Barrett to support a building that has become a Waltham institution. The amendment provides $200,000 for improvements to a structure that’s home to eight non-profits devoted to food, farming, and agriculture.
Tenants of the building include Waltham Fields Community Farm, Waltham Land Trust, Green Rows of Waltham Community Gardens, Boston Area Gleaners, Mass Farmers Markets, Grow Native Massachusetts, and Boston Area Climate Experiment.
Each organization works on sustainable agriculture, local produce, and healthy diets, from a century-old “field station.” The main administrative building, which sits on a large agricultural site at 240 Beaver Street, is in need of some repair and maintenance, which Barrett’s amendment will help address.
“For the sake of a group of non-profit tenants that do a great job serving the interests of everyone in Waltham,” said Barrett, “we need to invest in this building. It needs a lot of work, but these organizations are well worth it.”
In addition, the Senate’s supplemental budget furthers the chamber’s commitment to ensuring all children have access to greater educational opportunities. The budget dedicates $50M to fund educational programming costs associated with the Student Opportunity Act, which recently cleared both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Senate’s budget also ensures student safety and mental well-being through separate $10M investments in both school behavioral health services and enhanced public school safety and security measures, respectively. Additional education investments include:
- $30M for targeted assistance for school improvement
- $20M for the Endowment Incentives Program for public higher education institutions to provide an incentive for campuses to leverage private contributions
- $10M for campus safety and security infrastructure grants to institutions of higher education
- $5.1M to assist school districts with regional school transportation costs
- $2M for special education circuit breaker reimbursements
- $1M in rural school aid
The Senate’s closeout budget makes a number of targeted investments to help communities update aging transportation and water infrastructure, and improve public health. The supplemental budget invests $60M in Chapter 90 funding to support improvements of local roads and bridges. It also provides $5M for a new pilot program to tackle increased traffic congestion, which is currently threatening quality of life and access to jobs. Additional investments to support our communities include:
- $50M for the MBTA capital acceleration program
- $35M for the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust to help finance improvements to local water systems
- $28.4M for targeted per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination remediation of public water supplies and ongoing monitoring
- $5M for culvert and dam repairs
- $5M for costs associated with mosquito spraying to reduce the risk of Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE)
- Authorizes $5M in grants for de-leading projects at early education facilities, childcare centers and elementary schools
The Senate’s budget addresses the pressing issue of climate change by investing $5M for a program to provide consumer rebates and other economic incentives to reduce carbon emissions. In addition, the proposal dedicates the use of $32M in Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) funds per fiscal year to promote the purchase and lease of electric vehicles, and to support the Green Communities program through December 31, 2021.
Finally, the supplemental budget reinforces the Senate’s belief that voting is key to a healthy democracy by authorizing an early voting period for the 2020 presidential primary, to begin on Monday, February 24, 2020 and end on Friday, February 28, 2020. It also funds $1.25M for early voting implementation.
The Senate’s Fiscal Year 2019 closeout supplemental budget will now be reconciled with the House’s version, which was passed last week.