BOSTON – State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) this week secured several key investments in the FY19 Massachusetts Senate budget for programs and services that will help struggling working families, increase access to creative hands-on educational opportunities for children, improve public safety, and promote economic development across the Middlesex and Worcester district.
“Far too many working families and seniors in my district have a tough time making ends meet because of our state’s affordable housing crisis and non-living wages,” said Eldridge. “In the short term, we have to address this by increasing access to food pantries and public housing. In the long term, we have to raise the minimum wage to a living wage, and seriously discuss repealing corporate welfare loopholes that are costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars each year in lost revenue.”
For the FY19 budget, Eldridge secured $120,000 for the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry in Devens, which has been operating since 1983. Over the last 10 years the amount of families they serve has more than doubled and they currently serve over 800 families.
In order to continue to adequately serve their clients, Loaves & Fishes has planned a modest expansion that would make significant changes to the facility floor plan and expand their refrigerator and freezer capacities.
Eldridge also secured $30,000 for the Acton Food Pantry, which will help fund the completion of a renovation project that will allow the pantry to serve additional clients. Clients at the pantry, which has been providing food and clothing to residents-in-need for over 30 years, receive 4 days worth of food, including canned goods, staples, meat, eggs, dairy products, bread, and fresh fruit and vegetables.
Eldridge filed a successful amendment for $100,000 to help renovate the senior public housing development located at 29 Pleasant Street in Marlborough, which has 42 units for the elderly and disabled. These funds will fill a funding gap on the renovation project of the development to cover the cost of materials removed due to asbestos and lead abatement. A renovated Pleasant Street development will guarantee affordable housing to seniors, veterans, and the disabled for many years to come.
Eldridge also successfully filed an amendment for $100,000 for the proposed new Maynard Fire Station, now in its 60th year and is in serious need of improvements. In addition to providing fire services to the town’s residents and businesses, the Maynard Fire Department is also charged with protecting one of nine State Police Crime Labs as well as two FEMA sites.
Additionally, Eldridge secured $150,000 for the Traveling Science Workshops at the Discovery Museums in Acton, which comprise two buildings on a 4-acre campus. The museum opened a renovated and expanded museum building in early March of this year. With this larger and more accommodating building, along with Discovery Woods – an outdoor education space and accessible treehouse that opened in 2016 – the museum can serve more Massachusetts families.
In 2017, Discovery Museum served 48,000 people for free at a very low cost through programs targeting economically disadvantaged families and children with disabilities. This funding would create additional parking to meet the needs of this growing audience.
In addition, it will help refurbish the former Children’s Museum, a historic building on Acton’s Main Street, as a headquarters for Traveling Science Workshops, which last year delivered hands-on science programs to 33,000 Massachusetts school children in their classrooms.
Finally, Eldridge secured $100,000 for the 495/MetroWest Suburban Edge Community Commission, to help the commission finalize its recommendations, to promote economic development in Metrowest. The commission, created by Representative Kate Hogan (D-Stow), has been run by the 495/MetroWest Partnership, a dedicated public-private association that acts as an advocacy organization collaborating with businesses, municipalities, and other stakeholders, to focus on economic development, transportation, and water supply issues in the 495/MetroWest Corridor.
The Senate unanimously passed the FY19 budget in the early morning hours on Friday. A Conference Committee will now work out the differences between the Senate budget and the version passed by the House of Representatives in April. Fiscal Year 2019 begins on July 1, 2018.