Rep. Gordon and Sen. Barrett Join Legislature To Pass Balanced Budget; Secure Funding For Bedford Students Living On Hanscom Air Force Base

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Submitted on behalf of Representative Ken Gordon (D-Bedford) and Senator Michael Barrett (D-Lexington)

Representative Ken Gordon (D-Bedford) and Senator Michael Barrett (D-Lexington) joined their colleagues in the Legislature to send to the governor the legislative version of the Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) budget, which includes critical local aid along with Chapter 70 Education funding increases for the town of Bedford, as well as $517,000 for the education of the children of military families who live at Hanscom Air Force Base.

“Once again, Sen. Barrett and I have held the legislature to its commitment to Bedford and its residents,” said Gordon. “This budget is a great example of our state’s commitment to military families and students.”

Since Sen. Barrett and Rep. Gordon have taken office they have been able to secure a permanent line item in the budget so that Bedford’s schools will be reimbursed through a formula agreed upon by the Commonwealth and Bourne – the only other Massachusetts community expending material sums on the education of children living on a federal military base where real estate taxes are not collected.  Hanscom sends approximately 100 students each year to Bedford High School, after having attended grades K-8 on base.

Like Gordon, Barrett was pleased to see Hanscom students be given priority in the budget as it is an issue at the front of local official’s minds each fiscal year.

“This has been a top priority for Rep. Gordon and I since day one,” Barrett said. “Local officials stressed the importance of the funding, so I’m glad we were able to come through.”

The Commonwealth increased overall local school aid to a greater extent than it has in a decade.  Bedford received a $762,857 increase over FY19. Shawsheen Valley Technical High School, which educates Bedford students, received a $39,150 increase over FY19.  In addition, Bedford received a $32,046 increase in unrestricted local aid for its roads and bridges.
Funded at $43.1 billion, the budget makes major investments in education, housing, substance use disorder services, health care, and other areas while projecting a more than $476 million deposit into the Stabilization Fund – bringing the fund’s balance to more than $3 billion to safeguard the future of vital programs and services.

“I am proud of this fiscally responsible budget that supports the needs of individuals, families, and communities across the Commonwealth through thoughtful investments that increase local aid, strengthen our health care system and protect the environment,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “This budget bolsters our ongoing efforts to combat the opioid crisis, invest in high-quality early education and care, and makes another significant deposit into the state’s Stabilization Fund. These investments will have a long and lasting positive effect on the residents of Massachusetts. I want to thank Chair Michlewitz for his leadership and my colleagues in the House, especially those on the conference committee, who worked to put this package together.”

“Education is a top Senate priority, and I am therefore proud of the significant investments we make in K-12 education in the final FY2020 budget,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “Not only have we voted to advance the largest year-over-year increase in Chapter 70 education funding in the last two decades, we have also made a substantial down payment towards funding the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission (FBRC). In addition, we fund health and wellness in schools and provide considerable increases in reimbursement for special education, charter schools, and regional school transportation. Finally, I am very pleased that the conference budget includes $10 million in new funding for mental and behavioral health. These funds will allow the Commonwealth to address the root causes of many of the challenges facing our residents, including substance abuse, homelessness, unemployment, and school bullying, among other things. I commend all of the members of the conference committee for their very fine work on this budget.”

The state budget also increases overall local aid by nearly $30 million and provides $5.17 billion in Chapter 70, also known as education funding, as part of a $268 million increase for investments in schools over FY2019.

  • $345 million for Special Education reimbursement;
  • $115 million for Charter School Reimbursement; and
  • $75.8 million for Regional School Transportation reimbursement.

The budget builds on the Legislature’s commitment to ensuring children have access to high-quality early education and care (EEC), an issue consistent with legislation filed by Gordon and Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington).

Their bills, calling for a subsidized, accessible early childcare and education system, are part of an ongoing effort to make childcare more affordable and available to all parents in the state.

The budget invests in those who work with children by increasing rates for early education providers by $20 million and supporting continuing education opportunities with community colleges. The conference report provides $7.5 million for the Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative to expand access across the Commonwealth. The budget also includes additional investments into Head Start grants and quality improvement measures in core EEC programming.

Having been passed by the House and Senate, the legislation now goes to Governor Baker for his signature.