State Senator Paul R. Feeney Announces Passage of the Fiscal Year 2022 Senate Budget
And The Adoption Of Over $500,000 In Amendments Supporting The Bristol & Norfolk State Senate District
Boston, MA – Senator Paul R. Feeney (D-Foxborough) announced the successful passage of a host of amendments he filed during the recent Senate Budget Debate for the upcoming Fiscal Year 2022 spending package.
This budget year was unlike any other. As the Commonwealth and the country strive to Build Back Better from the COVID-19 pandemic, the FY2022 Budget agreed upon by the Massachusetts Senate maintains fiscal responsibility and recommends targeted investments to address emerging needs, safeguard the health and wellness of our most vulnerable populations and ensure our residents can benefit equitably as we recover from the lasting impacts of the pandemic. “The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the many areas where we need to improve our services as a society. I am proud that this budget maintains the fiscal health of the Commonwealth while investing and supporting our residents who need it the most,” stated Senator Feeney.
Senator Feeney filed budget amendments which span a range of policy areas, including arts and culture, food insecurity, homelessness and human services, outdoor recreation, mental and behavioral health, as well as funding for local capital improvements. Throughout three long days of debate that each stretched late into the evening, Feeney was successful in passing a majority of his amendments to the spending bill representing both local and statewide spending priorities. The Senate’s version of the FY2022 Budget, including Feeney’s priorities, was adopted Thursday night by a 40 - 0 vote.
Senator Feeney successfully secured over $500,000 for local initiatives in the Bristol & Norfolk District and $3.3 million in total funding. Senator Feeney’s amendments that provide funding for the communities in the Bristol & Norfolk District include:
Amendment #332 $25,000 for the replacement and renovation of equipment at the Walter Griffin Playground in the Town of Sharon. State Representative Edward R. Philips (D-Sharon) championed this project by including this funding in the House version of the FY2022 Budget.
Amendment #333 $25,000 to assess the structural concerns at the Burr’s Pond Dam in the Burr’s Pond Conservation Area in the Town of Seekonk. Senator Feeney thanks his colleague in the House of Representatives, State Representative Steven S. Howitt (R-Seekonk), for prioritizing this funding in the House version of the FY2022 Budget.
Amendment #531$100,000 to the Attleboro Norton YMCA and its tenant partners to renovate the Sweet Community House, making its kitchen suitable for commercial use and capable of distributing hundreds of meals per week to area residents, as well as additional upgrades that will allow this facility to serve as the hub of food security in the Greater Attleboro region.
Amendment #532$15,000 for facility and storage improvements to Our Daily Bread in the Town of Mansfield. Representatives Adam J. Scanlon (D-North Attleborough) and Edward R. Philips (D-Sharon) led on this initiative in the House of Representatives, and Senator Feeney was pleased to partner with them in securing this funding.
Amendment #647$25,000 for building code upgrades to the fire alarm and security system at the Public Safety Building in the Town of Rehoboth. Senator Feeney thanks State Representative Steven S. Howitt (R-Seekonk) for securing this funding in the House version of the FY2022 Budget.
Amendment #648$15,000 for the St. Vincent de Paul (SVDP) Attleboro Immersion Reentry Program operated by the SVDP in the City of Attleboro that serves incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals throughout Bristol County.
Amendment #795$50,000 for the remediation of the Old State Hospital Building in the Town of Foxborough, including removal of hazardous materials, exposed water and electrical lines and additional renovations for the for the Old State Hospital Laundry Building. Representative Jay F. Barrows (R-Mansfield) successfully including this funding in the House Budget last month. Senator Feeney was proud to work collaboratively to ensure it's adoption in the Senate.
Amendment #796$36,000 for the purchase of new voting machines in the Town of Medfield. Thank you Representative Denise C. Garlick (D-Needham) for championing the effort to secure this critical funding in the House version of the FY2022 Budget. Representative Garlick’s leadership throughout this budget process and her commitment to the Town of Medfield is always valued and appreciated.
Amendment #798$50,000 for programmatic activities, productions and improvements to the Massachusetts Music & Arts Society in the Town of Mansfield.
Amendment #799$50,000 for programmatic activities, productions and improvements to the Marilyn Rodman Performing Arts Center at the Orpheum Theatre in the Town of Foxborough.
Amendment #800$50,000 for the Medfield Cultural Alliance for the remediation, design, construction and improvements to the Performing Arts and Educational Center at the old State Hospital property in the Town of Medfield.
Amendment #801$60,000 for the Northern Bristol County Assistance Collaborative (NBCAC) Emergency to Permanent Supportive Housing Facility to service Bristol County. Representative James K. Hawkins (D-Attleboro) has been a true leader on this essential project and included this funding in the House version of the Budget.
In addition to the successful adoption of his local amendments, Feeney was also able to secure support for the following initiatives with regional and statewide impact, totaling $2.8 million:
Amendment #540$200,000 for the Massachusetts School Nurse Liaison Project to provide services including educational programming for staff, consultation services and resource development to assist school districts and private schools in addressing the mental health needs of the students in schools that are enrolled in the program. The talented, dedicated and compassionate MSNLP staff promote collaboration between school nurses, encourage increased respect and compassion for people struggling with mental health illnesses and promote practices in schools which foster the proactive development of healthy coping skills that improve mental health.
“I see this as just a down payment, that with this amendment, we can ensure the continuation of a critical program; we should come back in future discussions to double down and expand this program to every corner of the Commonwealth,” said Senator Feeney, during debate on this amendment.
Nearly every community in the Bristol & Norfolk District and cities and towns across Southeastern Massachusetts has benefitted from the services provided by the McLean School Nurse Liaison Project, and this amendment will help maintain these critical services at their current level without interruption.
Amendment #661$2,200,000 for municipalities hosting Department of Corrections facilities, stipulating that no municipality hosting a Department of Corrections facility shall receive more than $800,000 or less than $500,000. For over 50 years the citizens of Walpole have born the burden of providing emergency services to MCI Cedar Junction in addition to suffering the loss of tax revenue which could have been generated by the land the prison occupies. This amendment will compensate the Town of Walpole for hosting a Department of Corrections facility for their lost revenue so they can reinvest in services provided by the Town of Walpole and the Walpole Public Schools.
Amendment #819$400,000 for the Worker Health and Safety Program within the Department of Labor Standards (DLS). DLS promotes and protects workers' safety, health, wages, and working conditions here in Massachusetts. The Worker Health & Safety Program within DLS conducts inspections to promote effective health and safety management in the Commonwealth’s public sector. Currently, there are 12 health and safety inspectors and 2 supervisors that handle the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts. An analysis done by DLS of other State OSHA plans concluded that 18 inspectors would be the ideal number to cover the Commonwealth adequately. The funding, with the enactment of this amendment, will provide DLS the resources necessary to hire additional health & safety inspectors and support staff to cover their capacity needs.
Senator Feeney has strongly advocated for greater financial support to combat the ongoing crisis of homelessness in the Bristol & Norfolk District and across the Commonwealth. The Massachusetts State Senate Ways & Means Budget included significant funding for the Home and Healthy for Good Program, totaling $3,890,000. This funding total restores the $1,000,000 cut to this program in the Governor's initial FY22 House 1 Budget Proposal.
The Home and Healthy for Good Program, operated by the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance (MHSA), is designed to stop homelessness by providing low or no-cost housing to chronically homeless individuals first, instead of relying on over-crowded, emergency congregate-care shelters. This funding also includes an earmark totaling $500,000 for the specific, dedicated purpose of developing permanent supportive housing as a safer, more effective public health response to chronic homelessness than congregate shelter.
“We can end homelessness in the Commonwealth. We just need to make it a priority and act boldly,” said Senator Feeney. “The idea that we need to move away from decades of simply, temporarily sheltering homeless individuals, while offering limited services, in favor of offering permanent and supportive housing with access to physical and behavioral health and other wraparound services can seem radical at first; however, we know that the Housing First model works and can dramatically reduce MassHealth costs as well as additional burdens on our hospitals, emergency departments and public safety departments. Most of all however, I truly believe that this is the morally right way to address chronic homelessness.”
This program has been a top priority of Senator Feeney’s since he joined the State Senate. This model is also demonstrated by Senator Feeney’s Amendment #801 for the Northern Bristol County Assistance Collaborative (NBCAC) Emergency to Permanent Supportive Housing Facility, which supports the construction of a multi-floor transitional operation facility servicing all of northern Bristol County with the goal of transitioning individuals out of emergency housing and into permanent housing. This facility would include:
•An 18-bed overnight emergency shelter;
•Evaluation and wrap-around support services addressing the root causes of homelessness, which often include trauma, abuse, and substance addiction;
•On site and local provider services for all areas of a continuum of care;
•And daily operations administered by a committed partnership of social service organizations.
“I am extremely proud of this year’s Senate budget,” said Senator Feeney. “Not only is it a bold, balanced, fiscally responsible and well-rounded statement of our values, this budget takes great steps in addressing critical needs in the Commonwealth. It recognizes the importance of substantial and meaningful investments in education, healthcare, housing and substance abuse treatment. Additionally, the annual budget debate gives me an opportunity to advocate strongly on behalf of the people of the Bristol & Norfolk District. I am very pleased that many of my local priorities were adopted. Whether it is our arts and cultural programs, food insecurity, homelessness and human services, outdoor recreation, mental and behavioral health or funding for local capital projects and improvements, the resources allocated in this budget will be put to great use in our communities. I am honored to have the opportunity to advocate for our district and I am proud to work with my district partners in the Senate, Senator Rebecca L. Rausch (D-Needham) and Senator Walter F. Timilty (D-Milton), as well as all the members of our delegation from the House of Representatives, for working together in delivering such critical support for our cities and towns.”