I recently joined my Senate colleagues in voting on a $42.8 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20), making significant investments in healthcare cost and accessibility, mental health services, education, and regional empowerment. I was very pleased that the final version of the Senate budget includes several investments I requested on behalf of my constituents in Arlington, Billerica, Burlington, Lexington and Woburn. In my role as Vice Chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, I look forward to advocating for these initiatives in the upcoming conference committee to ensure that they are included in the final version of the FY20 budget. Check out the local priorities I secured in the Senate budget below!
I secured $175,000 in the Senate budget to support the Arlington Youth Counseling Center (AYCC). The AYCC is a licensed mental health counseling facility that currently serves over 390 Arlington youth and their families. This funding will help AYCC expand access to important behavioral healthcare services, allowing more youth to be treated without being placed on a waitlist for an extended period of time.
Our budget also includes $95,000 I advocated for to provide on-site English language tutoring and technical skills training to parents at Woburn Creative Start, a wonderful organization that provides high quality, licensed educational programs and child care in Woburn to foster youth growth and development.
The Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO) program seeks to expand educational opportunities and increase diversity in our classrooms by allowing students in various cities and towns to attend public schools in other communities. There are many students in my district enrolled in the METCO program, but these students too often face school transportation challenges. To address this, I secured $45,000 in the Senate budget to provide late afternoon and evening transportation for METCO students attending public schools in Arlington and Lexington. Expanding access to late afternoon and evening transportation will ensure that METCO students have the opportunity to fully participate in after school athletics and extra-curricular programs at Arlington and Lexington high schools.
I secured $85,000 to support Food Link, an organization that delivers nutritious food, including fresh fruits and vegetables, milk and eggs, to over 30 social services that serve low-income individuals in need. Many of the populations that Food Link serves – including low income children, at risk youth, low income families, seniors, and the homeless – do not have access to healthy food on a regular basis. These funds will help fight food insecurity in Arlington, Billerica, Burlington, Lexington, and Woburn.
Individuals who have immigrated to Massachusetts from another country often face English language barriers, which pose challenges to those individuals as they seek to integrate into American society, including difficulty gaining employment, communicating their needs to health professionals, and accessing community resources. To help address these barriers, I secured $100,000 to support English language instruction for immigrants and refugees at English at Large in Woburn. This funding would provide greater resources for English language learners, empowering them to contribute to and thrive in their communities.