Massachusetts Legislature Passes $261.6 Million FY 2021 Supplemental Budget

BOSTON (07/21/2021) – Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts Legislature in passing a $261.6 million supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21). The FY21 supplemental budget addresses time-sensitive deficiencies, extends expanded voting options, provides supports for the implementation of the 2020 landmark police reform law, and makes investments to support the Commonwealth’s continued recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Continuing to pave the way to an equitable recovery, the supplemental budget includes $191 million to provide support and stability for our early educator workforce, $27.9 million for one-time economic relief payments to families on transitional assistance, and $12.5 million for costs associated with the implementation of last session’s landmark police reform bill.

“As we continue to recover from the effects of the pandemic, we must maintain funding for critical services throughout the Commonwealth, which this supplemental budget allows us to do,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “Through this budget, we are making important investments in our early education and care system, reforming the representation of the MBTA’s governance and management board to better reflect the population it serves, and ensuring voter access by extending mail-in and early voting options.”

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Massachusetts Legislature Passes Bill Authorizing $350 Million in Funding for Transportation Infrastructure

BOSTON (07/15/2021) – The Massachusetts Legislature passed a bill that will invest $350 million in municipal transportation and selected statewide transportation infrastructure projects. The bill, An Act financing improvements to municipal roads and bridges, authorizes $200 million for municipal roads and bridges through the Chapter 90 program and $150 million to support statewide projects to address congestion, support electric vehicle infrastructure, prioritize bus infrastructure, and improve public transit.

“The Chapter 90 proposal advanced by the Legislature directly supports our communities as travel and commuting increases,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington). “Investing in projects that support reliable, safe, and accessible transportation infrastructure is vital to our communities’ overall well-being, both in the short- and long-term. Thank you to Senate President Spilka, Chair Rodrigues, Senator Boncore, and my colleagues in the House for prioritizing these much needed transportation improvements.”

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Massachusetts Legislature Passes Fiscal Year 2022 Budget

BOSTON (07/09/2021) – On Friday, July 9, 2021, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts State Legislature in unanimously passing a $48.07 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22). This budget maintains fiscal responsibility, does not cut services, makes targeted investments to address emerging needs, safeguards the health and wellness of the most vulnerable populations, and ensures residents will benefit equitably as the state recovers from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Taking into consideration strong tax revenue performance in FY21, the final FY22 budget increases revenue assumptions by $4.2 billion over the December consensus revenue projection; the new tax revenue projection is now $34.35 billion. As a result, the FY22 budget does not make a withdrawal but instead transfers funds into the Stabilization Fund, projecting an estimated balance of approximately $5.8 billion for this crucial ‘rainy day’ fund at the end of the fiscal year.

“We could not have predicted the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic but over the past 16 months we have done our best to prepare for the future, and I’m proud the FY22 budget continues that work by making robust short- and long-term investments in mental and behavioral health services, education, local health departments, and so much more,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means and member of the FY22 Budget Conference Committee. “I sincerely thank Senate President Spilka, Ways and Means Chair Rodrigues, and the rest of my colleagues in the Legislature for their work supporting all residents of the Commonwealth, especially those most in need.”

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Legislature Votes to Overturn Governor’s Veto of Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Labor Agreement

BOSTON (07/01/2021) – Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) and her colleagues in the Massachusetts Legislature voted to override Governor Charlie Baker’s veto of language from the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home bill financing the construction of the new Home requiring a project labor agreement.

In May, Governor Baker signed the bulk of a bill authorizing $400 million in bonds for the design and construction of a new soldiers’ home facility in Holyoke and $200 million in bonds to increase geographic equity and accessibility related to the continuum of long-term care services for veterans across the state, but struck a provision requiring the home to be built with a Project Labor Agreement (PLA), under which non-union workers would have to affiliate with construction unions to have a chance to work on the new facility

Overturning the veto ensures that construction of the project utilizes a diverse workforce and provides for well-paying, middle class jobs. The inclusion PLA language mandates a pre-bid, pre-hire labor agreement for the construction of the new facility in Holyoke, ensuring that the workforce is local, diverse, inclusive, well-trained, safe and skilled. Historically, such agreements on large taxpayer funded projects result in the completion of construction on-time and on or under budget.

“Rebuilding the soldiers’ home in Holyoke and increasing access to services for our veterans is necessary and long overdue, especially after tragically losing many residents of the soldiers’ home to a COVID-19 outbreak last year,” said Senator Friedman, lead Senate negotiator of the Soldiers’ Home Conference Committee. “This funding will ensure that the Commonwealth’s veterans are met with the services that they deserve and that address their unique and changing needs and that this construction project creates lucrative jobs for everyone. I want to thank Senate President Spilka for her leadership and my fellow conferees for their collaboration and efforts in advancing this important legislation.”

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Senate Passes Bill to Authorize $300 Million in Funding for Transportation Infrastructure

BOSTON (07/01/2021) – Joining her colleagues in the Massachusetts State Senate, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) voted to pass legislation to invest $300 million in municipal transportation projects and selected statewide transportation infrastructure projects. The bill, An Act financing improvements to municipal roads and bridges, authorizes $200 million for municipal roads and bridges through the chapter 90 program and $100 million to support statewide projects to address congestion, support electric vehicle infrastructure, and improve public transit.

“The Senate’s Chapter 90 proposal ensures that our transportation systems are safe and accessible as travel and traffic increase as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Senator Friedman. “The robust investments appropriated to the 4th Middlesex, in particular, will strengthen local infrastructure and support our communities’ overall well-being.”

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Senate Passes $261.6 Million FY 2021 Supplemental Budget

BOSTON (06/24/2021) – Today, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts State Senate to pass a $261.6 million supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21). This supplemental budget primarily addresses time-sensitive deficiencies, covers costs related to implementation of the 2020 landmark police reform law, and makes investments to support the Commonwealth’s continued recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This spending bill maintains funding for critical services throughout the Commonwealth,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “It was particularly important that we made investments in our early education and care system, and that we reformed the representation of the MBTA’s governance and management board to better reflect the population it serves.”

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Senate Passes Animal Welfare Improvements For Egg-Laying Hens

BOSTON (06/24/2021) – Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined the Massachusetts Senate in passing legislation to create a more secure egg supply chain and raise Massachusetts’ farm animal welfare standards to align with other states. An Act to upgrade hen welfare and establish uniform cage-free standards would upgrade Massachusetts’ egg production law to create predictability and certainty by mirroring the national United Egg Producers cage-free guidelines, which have been adopted by leading retailers, producers, and other states.

In 2016, Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly passed what at the time was the strongest law for farm animals in U.S. history, An Act to Prevent Cruelty to Farm Animals, known as Question 3. Since then, leading retailers, producers, and other states mandated even stronger standards in the shift to cage-free conditions for hens. The legislation passed in the Senate, An Act to upgrade hen welfare and establish uniform cage-free standards, updates existing state law to meet this new standard. This bill has the support of the animal welfare groups that supported the 2016 ballot question, as well as the support of the leading egg producers in the Commonwealth.

“Updating Massachusetts’s farm animal welfare law was overdue,” said Senator Friedman. “This bill will not only benefit the Commonwealth’s farm animals by improving standards for egg-laying hens but will also benefit consumers through affordable egg prices.”

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Where mental illness and criminal justice meet

In its fourth year, the commission plans to implement a pilot restoration center in Middlesex County — a facility where law enforcement could send people with substance use or mental health disorders for appropriate treatment. “What happens when they’re in the facility, that’s what this pilot is for,” said Senator Cindy Friedman, who’s part of the commission. “It’s not just getting someone to a place. At the other end there has to be someone who knows what to do and can deal with this person who is ill and not criminal. Right there, it keeps them one step away from the criminal justice system,” she said. The restoration center would also take walk-ins.

As state budget negotiations are underway in conference committee, it is critical that the Legislature funds the center at a minimum of $1 million, which is what the commission expects to get in the budget. Also crucial is for lawmakers to keep a trust fund, included in the Senate budget proposal, that would allow for other sources of revenue to fund the restoration center pilot. “That would be money from foundation grants, federal earmarks, and/or the [American Rescue Plan] act,” said Friedman.

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Senate Votes to Extend Popular State of Emergency Measures

BOSTON (06/10/21) – Today, the Massachusetts State Senate passed a bill which would extend a slate of measures instituted in Massachusetts during the State of Emergency stemming from COVID-19. If signed into law, this bill would result in the included measures being temporarily extended beyond the State of Emergency’s expiration on June 15, 2021.

“This bill represents responsible and proactive action by the Senate to ensure that important safeguards remain in place after June 15th,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “The effects of this public health crisis are not over; we must continue to protect the public’s health and well-being. This bill maintains the rapid availability of our strong health care workforce and provides financial support to those most impacted by the pandemic, like those who struggle to secure adequate childcare as in-person work resumes. I thank Senate President Spilka, Chair Rodrigues, and my senate colleagues for their speedy and thoughtful effort in addressing these matters.”

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Legislature Advances Fair Share Act to 2022 Statewide Ballot

BOSTON (06/09/2021) – At a Joint Session of the Massachusetts Legislature, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined members of the House and Senate in a Constitutional Convention to advance an amendment to the state Constitution to provide greater investments in education and transportation funding.

The Amendment, which now goes before the people of the Commonwealth for a vote in 2022, establishes a four percent tax on annual taxable income in excess of $1 million. The revenue generated, estimated by the Department of Revenue to be as much as $2.2 billion annually, would fund repair and maintenance projects for roads, bridges or public transportation as well as funding for public education, including support for early education and childcare and public higher education.

“Once again, I was proud to work with my colleagues to move this important amendment to the next stage of the process,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “The revenue raised by the Fair Share Amendment is an effective and fair way to increase investments in public transportation and public education, needed now more than ever as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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