Monday, July 02, 2007

STATMENT: Downing lists Berkshire-specific grants in budget sent to governor



Boston- Today, State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield)
announces that the Senate has unanimously voted to endorse the Fiscal
Year 2008 conference budget, bringing to a close the legislative
negotiations on the Commonwealth's General Appropriations Act.

"This FY08 budget is a fiscally sound product of serious deliberation. I
applaud the Conference Committee members for performing their due
diligence by weighing each spending item with careful consideration for
the fiscal health of the entire Commonwealth," stated Downing.

This proposed spending plan will fund important programs and services
impacting the Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin District, including:

* $1 million for Emergency Disaster Relief to the victims of
flooding in areas declared federal disasters in October 2005, including
Berkshire, Hampshire, and Franklin Counties.
* $250,000 for the Berkshire Economic Development Corporation to
implement the Berkshire Blueprint and continued marketing focused on
attracting jobs to Berkshire County.
* $150,000 for the Berkshire County Drug Task Force for
programmatic expenses.
* $75,000 for the Housing Services and Mediation Program
administered by the Berkshire County Regional Housing Authority.
* $150,000 for the Community Based Family Unification Counseling
Program for at-risk teens administered through the Pittsfield Boys &
Girls Club and the Gladys Allen Brigham Center.
* $100,000 for the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, for capital
improvements to its HVAC system.
* $20,000 for the Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge to
complete roof repairs
* $75,000 for renovations and restoration of the Samuel Harrison
House in Pittsfield.
* $200,000 for the Mahaiwe Theatre in Great Barrington for
restoration improvements.
* $10,000 for Hoose House in Dalton for the development of
restoration plans.
* $50,000 for Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in Becket for
structural improvements to the Ted Shawn Theatre.
* $150,000 for Berkshire County Youth Development Project to fund
youth intervention services
* $200,000 for Buy Local programs to enhance buy local efforts in
western, central, northeastern, and southeastern Massachusetts, which
supports local programs such as Berkshire Grown.
* $1 million for the Adams Visitor Center.
* $200,000 for the Western Massachusetts Enterprise Fund.
* $100,000 for United Veterans of America to conduct veteran
outreach services in Pittsfield and $220,000 for United Veterans of
America services in Leeds.
* $200,000 for support and implementation of four Model Community
Coalitions and community-capacity building activities, which locally
will support the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition and the North
Quabbin Community Coalition programming and services.
* $3.5 million for Outreach Enrollment Grants for outreach,
education and enrollment initiatives relating to Massachusetts health
care reform, which will benefit local organizations including Ecu-Health
Care and Community Partners, Inc.
* $3 million increase to the Executive Office of Health and Human
Services Salary Reserve ensuring a salary increase for direct care
workers who earn less than $40,000 annually and provide care to our most
vulnerable citizens.
* $21,351,035 for Community Policing Grants to assist with
deployment of officers statewide, including language maintaining grants
that have historically been received by the police departments.
Locally, the Towns of Charlemont, Dalton, Lanesborough, and Williamstown
and the Cities of Pittsfield and North Adams will continue to receive
Community Policing funds.
* $54,690 for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of
Berkshire County to fund programs that provide abused and neglected
children with a voice in court.
* $77,478 for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of
Hampshire and Franklin Counties to fund programs that provide abused and
neglected children with a voice in court.
* $42,000 for the Turner House in Williamstown to fund veterans
* $28.3 million for PILOT Payments for state owned lands,
representing a $3 million increase from FY07.
* $935,028,283 in Lottery Aid for direct payments to cities and
* $220 million increase in Chapter 70 Public Education aid from
* $1,000,000 increase to the Regional School Transportation
account, raising the appropriation to $58.3 million - the highest level
of funding in recent years. This figure represents a 91% reimbursement
rate for the regional school districts.
* $5,500,000, a $2 million increase over FY07 funding level, for
Education Foundation Reserve ("pothole program"), an important safety
valve intended to provide supplemental financial assistance to cities,
towns, and school districts to address a variety of special
* $600,000 for the State Licensed Foresters Program administered
by the Department of Conservation and Recreation to ensure that the
Commonwealth retains its "Green Certification" for state forests and
maintains responsible timber management and stewardship.

This spending proposal has now been sent to Governor Patrick's desk for
final approval. Patrick has 10 days to act on the bill. Fiscal Year
2008 began on July 1, 2007.

To view the complete text of the FY08 Budget Conference Report please

For Immediate Release
Contact: Heather Viola Quirk
July 2, 2007
Phone (617) 722-1625



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