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PRESS RELEASE- Downing Highlights Local Funding in FY 2008 Budget
July 02, 2007

Boston- Today, State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield) announces that the Senate has unanimously voted to endorse the Fiscal Year 2008 conference budget, bringing to a close the legislative negotiations on the Commonwealth’s General Appropriations Act.

 

“This FY08 budget is a fiscally sound product of serious deliberation. I applaud the Conference Committee members for performing their due diligence by weighing each spending item with careful consideration for the fiscal health of the entire Commonwealth,” stated Downing.

 

This proposed spending plan will fund important programs and services impacting the Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin District, including:

 

  • $1 million for Emergency Disaster Relief to the victims of flooding in areas declared federal disasters in October 2005, including Berkshire, Hampshire, and Franklin Counties.
  • $250,000 for the Berkshire Economic Development Corporation to implement the Berkshire Blueprint and continued marketing focused on attracting jobs to Berkshire County.
  • $150,000 for the Berkshire County Drug Task Force for programmatic expenses.
  • $75,000 for the Housing Services and Mediation Program administered by the Berkshire County Regional Housing Authority.
  • $150,000 for the Community Based Family Unification Counseling Program for at-risk teens administered through the Pittsfield Boys & Girls Club and the Gladys Allen Brigham Center.
  • $100,000 for the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, for capital improvements to its HVAC system.
  • $20,000 for the Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge to complete roof repairs
  • $75,000 for renovations and restoration of the Samuel Harrison House in Pittsfield.
  • $200,000 for the Mahaiwe Theatre in Great Barrington for restoration improvements.
  • $10,000 for Hoose House in Dalton for the development of restoration plans.
  • $50,000 for Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Becket for structural improvements to the Ted Shawn Theatre.
  • $150,000 for Berkshire County Youth Development Project to fund youth intervention services
  • $200,000 for Buy Local programs to enhance buy local efforts in western, central, northeastern, and southeastern Massachusetts, which supports local programs such as Berkshire Grown.
  • $1 million for the Adams Visitor Center.
  • $200,000 for the Western Massachusetts Enterprise Fund.
  • $100,000 for United Veterans of America to conduct veteran outreach services in Pittsfield and $220,000 for United Veterans of America services in Leeds.
  • $200,000 for support and implementation of four Model Community Coalitions and community-capacity building activities, which locally will support the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition and the North Quabbin Community Coalition programming and services.
  • $3.5 million for Outreach Enrollment Grants for outreach, education and enrollment initiatives relating to Massachusetts health care reform, which will benefit local organizations including Ecu-Health Care and Community Partners, Inc.
  • $3 million increase to the Executive Office of Health and Human Services Salary Reserve ensuring a salary increase for direct care workers who earn less than $40,000 annually and provide care to our most vulnerable citizens.
  • $21,351,035 for Community Policing Grants to assist with deployment of officers statewide, including language maintaining grants that have historically been received by the police departments.  Locally, the Towns of Charlemont, Dalton, Lanesborough, and Williamstown and the Cities of Pittsfield and North Adams will continue to receive Community Policing funds.
  • $54,690 for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Berkshire County to fund programs that provide abused and neglected children with a voice in court.
  • $77,478 for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Hampshire and Franklin Counties to fund programs that provide abused and neglected children with a voice in court.
  • $42,000 for the Turner House in Williamstown to fund veterans services.
  • $28.3 million for PILOT Payments for state owned lands, representing a $3 million increase from FY07.
  • $935,028,283 in Lottery Aid for direct payments to cities and towns.
  • $220 million increase in Chapter 70 Public Education aid from FY07.
  • $1,000,000 increase to the Regional School Transportation account, raising the appropriation to $58.3 million – the highest level of funding in recent years.  This figure represents a 91% reimbursement rate for the regional school districts.
  • $5,500,000, a $2 million increase over FY07 funding level, for Education Foundation Reserve (“pothole program”), an important safety valve intended to provide supplemental financial assistance to cities, towns, and school districts to address a variety of special circumstances.
  • $600,000 for the State Licensed Foresters Program administered by the Department of Conservation and Recreation to ensure that the Commonwealth retains its “Green Certification” for state forests and maintains responsible timber management and stewardship.

 

This spending proposal has now been sent to Governor Patrick’s desk for final approval.  Patrick has 10 days to act on the bill.  Fiscal Year 2008 began on July 1, 2007. 

 

To view the complete text of the FY08 Budget Conference Report please visit:

http://www.mass.gov/legis/bills/house/185/ht04pdf/ht04141.pdf.

 

 

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