Submitted by Senator Mike Barrett (D-Lexington) and Representative Ken Gordon (D-Bedford)
State Sen. Mike Barrett and State Rep. Ken Gordon have scored a major victory for Bedford, officially securing the town’s long-sought priority of permanent funding for the costs of educating children living on Hanscom Air Force Base.
On Tuesday, July 22nd, Governor Deval Patrick signed into law a bill that sets aside $1.3 million in each fiscal year going forward for the education of students who live at Hanscom and on Joint Base Cape Cod.
Bedford has accepted Hanscom students at its high school for more than 50 years through an agreement with the Department of Defense, but the federal government reimburses only a small portion of the educational costs involved. At present, the town educates just over 100 students living at Hanscom.
“Bedford’s voters sent Sen. Barrett and me to Beacon Hill to get the job done, and I am happy to report we did,” said Gordon. “We are grateful the governor saw it our way, and now we can count on our school funding for years to come.”
“This has been a top priority for us since day one,” Barrett said. “Local officials stressed the importance of the funding. Now Bedford has the certainty of knowing it’ll receive reimbursement each year.”
Barrett and Gordon secured money for Bedford in the House and Senate versions of the budget this year and last. However, until now they needed to repeat the process every year with no guarantees of future success.
The governor’s signature caps a hectic Legislative battle for the duo. In May the Senate passed its version of the fiscal year budget, including language making Bedford’s reimbursement for educating military kids permanent. Gordon and Barrett then successfully rallied colleagues in both branches to keep the language in the compromise budget sent to the Governor.
Still, ten days later, Governor Patrick returned the section to the House and Senate, asking that the permanent language be removed.
In response, Bedford’s state delegation acted swiftly. With time running out in the Legislative session, they worked to send the permanent provision to the Governor once more, this time forcing him to either sign or veto. At that point, the pair termed the fate of lasting funding “uncertain.” Barrett and Gordon — along with the Board of Selectmen, Town Manager and Superintendent — successfully prevailed upon the Governor to sign the bill.
Barrett and Gordon directed special praise at Town Manager Rick Reed, Superintendent of Schools Jon Sills and the Selectman for their effective advocacy. Barrett also directed praise at Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) and Senate Ways and Means Chair Stephen Brewer (D-Barre) for including the measure in the Senate version of the budget, while Gordon lauded House conferees Brian Dempsey (D-Haverhill) and Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington), the Chair and vice Chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means, as well as Speaker Robert DeLeo, for including the measure in the original conference committee report.