The Mass. Senate and House have given final approval to the state’s budget for the current fiscal year.
With help from local State Representative Ken Gordon, Bedford’s State Senator Mike Barrett secured funding to mitigate the costs the town incurs for educating children of families living on nearby military bases. More than one-hundred Hanscom Air Force Base students attend high school at local expense.
The town has opened its doors to these children for more than fifty years through an agreement with the Department of Defense. This funding will be split between Bedford–for the students who live at Hanscom Air Force Base–and Bourne–for the students who live at Joint Base Cape Cod. The federal government, through its Impact Aid program, supports the education of these children; but while the federal program was originally intended to pay half, it now only pays about 10%.
“During this time of great economic uncertainty, I’m proud that the House and Senate budget proposals make significant investments to stabilize our communities and protect our most vulnerable” said Representative Gordon. “Once again joining with Senator Barrett, we are confident that the Joint Conference Committee will retain the military mitigation aid so that Bedford’s schools can continue to do our part for students living at Hanscom”. “Local officials have stressed the importance of the funding,” said Senator Barrett. “So I’m glad we were able to come through.”
The Bedford funding sits within the Massachusetts state budget for fiscal year 2021, a product of compromise between the Senate and House that is now headed to the Governor’s desk for his consideration and signature. Despite the downturn in the Massachusetts economy due to COVID, the Legislature was able to avoid deep cuts to major state programs. Funding for MassHealth, which provides access to affordable health care for more than 1.9 million people, showed a slight increase. Room was made for several new initiatives, such as augmented mental health services for people experiencing isolation and stress during the pandemic.