(BOSTON) – On Wednesday, Representative Jennifer Benson (D-Lunenburg) voted with the Massachusetts House of Representatives to pass a supplemental budget allowing the Commonwealth to increase the balance of its “Rainy Day Fund” to $3.2 billion, invest in local infrastructure projects, further address the opioid crisis, and provide additional funding for public education.
The bill dedicates $400 million to the Commonwealth’s stabilization fund, bringing the Rainy Day Fund’s total balance to $3.2 billion, the first time the fund has reached that amount in its history.
As part of the House’s priority to protect the environment, the supplemental budget makes a $24 million investment for the testing of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination of water supplies and for grants to support treatment and remediation of affected public drinking water systems, and $35 million for the Clean Water Trust Fund.
“The inclusion of funding for PFAS testing and remediation will make it easier for towns affected by PFAS contamination, including several in my district, to filter their water supplies,” said Representative Benson. “I’m also glad that language from a bill filed by Representative Kate Hogan and me establishing a PFAS task force was included in the budget. This task force will bring public health agencies and policymakers together to study the issue of PFAS contamination and come up with solutions.”
In addition, the supplemental budget reaffirms the House’s strong partnership with cities and towns by providing $60 million to invest in local roads and bridges projects. Furthering the House’s commitment to clean energy, the budget also features a $32 million investment in the state’s electric vehicle rebate program.
In addition, the supplemental budget:
- Recognizes the need for increased investment in the MBTA by providing $50 million for additional staffing and contract costs to support capital project delivery, inspection and maintenance activities, and service diversions necessary to accelerate capital projects;
- Works to support the Commonwealth’s public higher education institutions by investing $20 million in a program that encourages private fundraising with matching state dollars;
- Continues the House’s leadership on the Commonwealth’s early education efforts by including $3 million for grants for early educator scholarships for school paraprofessionals;
- Designates the presidential primary date for 2020 and invests funding to establish early voting for the 2020 presidential election;
- Supports the House’s priority of supporting Massachusetts’ most vulnerable youth by investing $5 million in a program to expand access for students to community-based mental and behavioral health services in schools; and
- Includes $10 million reserve for salary increases for home health aides and personnel providing homemaker and personal care homemaker services.
The supplemental budget will now go to the Senate.