~ Submitted by Rep. Ken Gordon (D-Bedford)
The Massachusetts House of Representatives addressed the needs of communities across the Commonwealth by providing one-time financial assistance with COVID-19 recovery this week, and Representative Ken Gordon made sure Bedford was included. The town will receive $100,000 for the Bedford Food Pantry, $75,000 for the Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce and $75,000 to support the town’s involvement in creating and executing a Racial Equity Municipality Action Plan (“REMAP”).
The funds were in addition to state support for the education of Hanscom students at Bedford High School, and other ongoing state-funded programs.
The legislation distributed $4 billion of Massachusetts’ $5 billion share of the American Recovery Plan Act (“ARPA”), along with surplus FY21 state funds The House funded programs that include: $200 million in tax relief for small business owners; $12 million to aid in the re-settling of Afghan refugees; $20 million to address the needs of community health centers; and $15 million for job training. The bill also includes: $400 million to address climate change; $250 million to assist financially strapped community hospitals; and $70 million to improve care at nursing homes.
While focusing on these state-wide policy issues, the needs of Bedford and Burlington were always on Rep. Gordon’s agenda. “Many of Bedford’s residents and small businesses were hit hard when we were forced to shut our doors to protect ourselves from the spread of the virus,” said Gordon. “These funds will help us build back efficiently as we address the new challenges ahead.”
Rep. Gordon achieved funding for the Bedford Food Pantry to help it find permanent space in town, and to directly benefit families currently struggling with food insecurity. His support for the Chamber of Commerce will allow the organization to focus on the needs of small business at a time that many of those businesses cannot afford to pay dues.
“This federal funding will allow our town’s programs to take a figurative deep breath,” Gordon said. “The pandemic caused the need for the Food Pantry’s services to increase beyond its traditional resources. I pushed for this funding in the hopes that $100,000 will give it time to address its current needs and plan for the future.
“Similarly, the Chamber of Commerce must have the time to focus on the needs of our small businesses, rather than worry about how it will pay its own bills. This will allow the organization to reach out to all of our small business, provide needed counsel, and put together educational programs to address their concerns.”
Bedford was one of six communities selected to participate in a year-long training with the Government Alliance on Race Equity, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (“MAPC”) to create a racial equity plan. “Thanks to this funding, the town will be able to continue with this important work, and support diversity, equity and inclusion training,” said Town Manager Sarah Stanton. Bedford was chosen with the towns of Natick and Stoughton, and the cities of Framingham, Lynn and Revere after a competitive process, because each has shown a commitment to addressing and improving conditions of racial inequality.
The bill moves on to the Senate, which is expected to take up the measure in the next two weeks. Representatives of both branches will meet if there are differences in their approaches, and any resolution they reach will be sent to the Governor. While no time table is assured, the legislature expects the matter to be funded shortly.