Rep. Benson’s July 2019 Office Update

FY20 Budget Update

In late July, the Legislature passed the final FY20 budget, which was signed by Governor Baker with no spending vetoes. Funded at $43.1 billion, the budget makes major investments in education and health care, while projecting a $476 million deposit into the Stabilization Fund. Throughout the process, I advocated for constituent priorities, including the largest ever single-year increase in Chapter 70 education funding, and resources for many district projects:

  • $100,000 for the renovation of a building in Acton to serve as a community center;
  • $100,000 for elderly and commuter shuttles linking to the Commuter Rail Station in Acton;
  • $250,000 for improvements to Depot Square and the commuter rail parking deck in Ayer;
  • $150,000 for the Advanced Manufacturing Training Program at the Devens campus at Mount Wachusett Community College;
  • $165,000 for the removal of fuel storage tanks in Lunenburg;
  • $100,000 for the Lunenburg Fire Department to purchase new equipment; and
  • $50,000 for renovations to the Shirley War Memorial Building.

Legislative Update

As the House Chair of the Committee on Health Care Financing, I was proud to be part of the team of legislators that worked to bring a children’s health bill to the floor. An Act Relative to Children’s Health and Wellness is part of a session-long initiative to address the health needs of Massachusetts’ 1.4 million children. The legislation passed in July would make access to health care, and specifically mental health care, easier for children by requiring insurance companies to maintain accurate and accessible provider directories, creating childhood behavioral health centers of excellence across the state to provide resources to parents and schools, and directing state agencies to study issues around children’s health care.

Speaking on the House floor in favor of An Act Relative to Children’s Health and Wellness

By identifying and addressing the deficiencies and difficulties in accessing care, we are working to ensure that every child in the Commonwealth will be able to access high-quality services quickly and efficiently.

The House also passed a bill funding infrastructure projects across the state to reduce emissions and help prepare communities for the coming consequences of climate change. Known as GreenWorks, the legislation establishes a 10-year, $1 billion grant program, modeled after the MassWorks program, for clean energy, energy efficiency, and climate change resiliency measures that cut greenhouse gas emissions, fortify infrastructure, and reduce municipal costs. Additionally, the GreenWorks bill provides $100 million for municipal microgrid systems, $125 million for the purchase of electric vehicles for regional transit authority fleets, and $30 million for the state’s electric vehicle rebate program.

Health Care Financing Committee Update

The Committee on Health Care Financing held two hearings in July. We collected testimony on about 50 bills, which members of the Committee and staff are now reviewing.

As I have been doing since the start of the summer, I continued touring medical centers around the state, and visited Sturdy Memorial Hospital in Attleboro with Rep. Elizabeth Poirier, and Heywood Hospital in Gardner. Learning how these facilities operate and discussing financing, staffing, and other challenges with their leadership teams is generating valuable insights as the Committee reviews bills and drafts legislation.

Looking Ahead

The Legislature does not hold formal sessions in August, so my next office update will be in early October.

If there is legislation that you wish to discuss, or you have a constituent matter you need help with, please reach out to my office at Jennifer.Benson@MAHouse.gov or 617-722-2430.

Enjoy the rest of the summer!

Sincerely,