Burlington’s representative in the Massachusetts House cast his favor of that body’s proposed FY23 state budget and is highlighting the ways provisions will benefit the district.
According to a release from his office, Representative Ken Gordon joined his colleagues in the House of Representatives in passing a $49.73 billion Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) budget proposal last Wednesday evening. The FY23 budget includes significant investments in health care, education, housing, and workforce development, among other priorities.
“The FY23 budget reflects investments that will advance economic development in the Commonwealth and provide our communities with the funding they need to support our residents,” said Rep. Gordon. “I’m proud that the budget my colleagues and I worked on continues our commitment to the people of the Commonwealth by making critical investments in early education and child care, higher education, health care, and other important services our residents need”.
According to the release, Representative Gordon secured direct funding for the 21st Middlesex District and organizations that serve his communities, including:
- $1,000,000 for the education of students of families living on military bases such as Hanscom AFB, from which Bedford’s share will be allocated;
- $75,000 for the town of Burlington’s Council on Aging to support programming for seniors;
- $150,000 to support the critical care operations of Boston MedFlight at Hanscom Air Force Base; and
- $100,000 for Communities for Restorative Justice, Inc.
Rep. Gordon also secured amendments that would make significant policy changes benefiting Massachusetts residents, the release states. The House budget included his amendment that will clarify the intent of the Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) statute to ensure that employees can supplement their PFML benefits with other unused benefit time up to 100 percent wage replacement. This clarification to the law will strengthen the program and allow families to care for a new child or loved one, or take time with them during severe injury or illness, without jeopardizing their financial security.
“As Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Service, Representative Gordon prioritized the needs of the Commonwealth’s retirees,” the release states. “In light of rapidly rising inflation, the House budget included an amendment filed by Representative Gordon that will increase Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for state and teachers’ retirees from 3 percent to 5 percent and allow local retirement boards to increase the COLA for FY23 up to 5 percent. Additionally, Rep. Gordon secured legislation would ensure that retirees are not negatively impacted by a recent decision of the Supreme Judicial Court that could threaten the pension calculation of retirees who received workers’ compensation during their careers in public service.”
Consistent with legislation filed by Representative Gordon earlier this session, the House budget includes $912 million targeted to early childhood education and care, the release adds. Continuing its longstanding commitment to invest in the workforce, the budget includes a $70 million in rate increases for subsidized childcare providers across the Commonwealth, representing a $50 million increase over FY22. It also includes a new initiative funded at $10 million to pay for childcare for early educators. Early education and care funding initiatives include:
- $16.5 million for Head Start grants;
- $15 million for child care resource and referral agencies;
- $10 million for EEC higher education provider opportunities;
- $5 million to provide additional navigation support and outreach to families; and
- $3 million for early childhood mental health grants;
The FY23 House budget funds Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) at $1.199 billion and Chapter 70 education funding at $5.988 billion, representing a $494 million increase over the FY22 budget and fully funding the second year of a six-year implementation plan of the Student Opportunity Act (SOA) which was enacted in 2019 to support equitable funding for our most vulnerable students.
The House budget also includes investment in higher education by allocating $653 million for the University of Massachusetts system, $337 million for community colleges, and $326 million for state universities.
- Additionally, the House budget invests in programs across departments to support workforce equity in Massachusetts that help diverse communities and employers succeed. New initiatives include:
- $20 million for a loan forgiveness program within the Department of Mental Health to support their workforce;
- $15 million to support teachers of color, including $7.5 million for Tomorrow’s Teachers program to provide scholarships to people committed to teaching in public schools and $7.5 million for loan repayment for teachers of color;
- $10 million for loan repayment and bonuses for the homeless shelter workforce that continue to provide critical services to the most vulnerable populations; and
- $1 million for a public awareness campaign to ensure all communities can utilize these programs.