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Downing: Final FY15 Budget on Gov's Desk; Millions Secured for Local Programs/Services
June 30, 2014

BOSTON  State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D- Pittsfield) announces that the House of Representatives and Senate have enacted the final Fiscal Year 2015 state operating budget; the $36.5 billion spending plan was sent to the Governor’s desk this afternoon. 
 
Throughout the budget process Downing worked to secure funding for various local programs and services. The following appropriations and policy initiatives were adopted in the final conference budget today:  
  • $15 Million for the Massachusetts Emergency Food Program (MEFAP);
  • $12 Million for the Massachusetts Cultural Council, $7.5 Million for the Regional Tourism Councils and $350,000 to support the operation of 11 Visitor Information Centers statewide between the Memorial Day and Labor Day holidays;
  • $400,000 for the Bridges to College grant program, which funds adult college transition courses that provide short-term, intensive training courses that ensure students have the minimum requirements necessary for college-level services;
  • $300,000 for Buy Local programs in western, northwestern and central Massachusetts, such as Berkshire Grown and CISA;
  • $250,000 for the Mass In Motion programming;
  • $150,000 to support local emergency housing shelter services;
  • $100,000 for the Franklin County Opiate Education & Awareness Task Force;
  • $25,000 for a one-time grant to the Town of Huntington for the purchase of snow removal equipment, to ensure student/pedestrian safety on the rural roads near school zones;
  • Language granting Berkshire Medical Center access to the Community Hospital Acceleration, Revitalization, & Transformation (CHART) Investment Program. CHART provides funds to hospitals around the state to help to enhance the delivery of efficient, effective care; and
  • Language authorizing the Franklin County Regional Retirement System to transfer into the state retirement system.
 
Following the restoration of emergency medical services at the site of the former North Adams Regional Hospital on May 19th, Downing sponsored a slate of financial initiatives aimed to assist the City of North Adams manage projected difficulties, while preserving essential community services and promoting economic development throughout Northern Berkshire County:
 
  • $750,000 for a one-time payment to the City of North Adams for emergency municipal budget relief;
  • $460,000 to preserve employment-related transportation services by BerkshireRides;
  • $100,000 to support the operations and programming of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition; and
  • $75,000 for Gallery 51, MCLA’s art gallery, performance venue, community gathering place and economic development engine located on Main Street in downtown North Adams. 
 
Governor Patrick now has ten days to review and act on the budget. Fiscal Year 2015 begins tomorrow, on July 1, 2015. The text of the final FY15 conference budget can be viewed online:  
https://malegislature.gov/Document/Bill/188/House/H4242.pdf
 
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