BOSTON, MA — With the House version of the FY18 budget finalized and on its way to the Senate for further debate, both Tewksbury and Wilmington are set to become the beneficiary of multiple programs thanks to amendments filed by Representative Miceli.
Upon passing of the budget, Representative Miceli stated: “I am quite satisfied with the amendments that I was able to sponsor and pass this year in the budget. It is quite a lengthy and arduous process, and ensuring support in the community while also spending revenue responsibly is quite a delicate balance to strike. I know that these allocations will go to great use however, and I am proud of what we were able to allocate to my district.”
The two largest amendments filed by the Representative encompassed in the budget include $200,000 for repairs to the North Street Elementary School in Tewksbury, and $100,000 for the group Into Action Recovery.
“The teachers, faculty, and support staff of the Tewksbury School system do tremendous work. However, their efforts may be delayed due to dated facilities and failing infrastructure’” said Representative Miceli upon the passing of the North Street school amendment. “After taking a tour of the school with our school committee and administration, I realized that the North Street school needed repairs even as the town plans to move forward on replacing the facility in a few years. Our children should not have to freeze or dodge puddles while trying to learn, and this money will help maintain the roof and boilers, as well as window insulation and more.”
The $100,000 secured for Into Action Recovery matches fundraising efforts so far by the organization, and aims to help secure a down payment on an opiate and alcohol recovery facility purchase. Unlike traditional facilities, Into Action Recovery focuses on removing financial barriers and time limits with a non-profit focused model, where each individual is evaluated by professionals. Initial plans call for twelve to fifteen beds in a long-term house focused on returning recovering dependents to the work force and independent living. Given the heavy impact of the drug crisis in Merrimack Valley, such beds are in high demand, and many individuals fall into relapse while waiting for a facility opening. Into Action Recovery’s mission seeks to address this shortfall, and put sincere effort forward in reducing the percentage of relapse in recovering individuals.
Another filing secured $25,000 for Camp Pohelo, the Tewksbury School system camp for students with Individualized Education Plans. The annual program hosts dozens of children with a range of physical, cognitive, and mental disabilities of all types, and allows a true summer camp experience to be experienced whatever hurdles a student may face.
A non-revenue amendment sponsored by Representative Miceli also maintained the minimum number of beds at Tewksbury State Hospital for patients as to not discharge them forcibly. This has been an annual concern since proposed budget cuts in 2014 threatened the immediate discharge of Alzheimer patients, those with traumatic head injuries, and other cases where private hospitals in the area refused or were incapable of treatment. Alternative plans put forth by the state suggested transferring patients to western Massachusetts, before efforts by Representative Miceli and the Ways and Means Committee restored funding and included language in the budget to guarantee preservation of the hospital beds.
In addition to Representative Miceli’s personal amendments, the Representative and his colleagues also approved a number of other amendments filed supporting every municipality in the Commonwealth, including significant boosts in local aid and unrestricted purchases. The town of Wilmington is set to receive $11,270,330 in Chapter 70 funding for schools, a $103,170 increase over FY2017. General aid for the town of Wilmington increased $93,244. Tewksbury received a $107,850 increase in education assistance, and $104,368 in unrestricted local aid. Total spending for the Chapter 70 allotment for FY18 increased $106.4 million overall, guaranteeing a minimum of $30 per pupil in state aid. The Special Education Circuit Breaker, which provides relief to local school districts for expenditures regarding a student’s special needs, increased $4 million over previous FY17.
Other notable aspects of the FY18 budget includes a $750,000 line item to preserve funding for any cuts to Meals on Wheels; $350,000 to help remove invasive aquatic wildlife in the rivers, lakes, and streams in Massachusetts; and $2,793,531 for drinking water protection and improvement. The FY18 budget also allocates $10,182,317 in general aide to libraries across the state, and includes several other earmarks for the documentation of important records, books, and more to be shared electronically at other libraries. This would increase all libraries inventories for almost no cost, and expand the information accessible by the public greatly. The budget now is under review by the Senate, before a joint-legislative budget will be sent to Governor Baker’s desk for review.
(NOTE: The above press release is from State Rep. Jim Miceli’s Office.)
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