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Legislature passes balanced FY15 budget

Rep. Roy joined his colleagues in the Legislature to pass a $36.5 billion state budget for Fiscal Year 2015 (FY15) focused on economic growth and increased government accountability and oversight. 

The spending plan makes important investments in local aid, education, and human services, including substance abuse treatment and prevention and mental health care. Building on a responsible yet proactive approach to combating the recession, the Legislature’s budget contains multiple measures to achieve sustainable economic growth and provide essential services that support the Commonwealth’s citizens.
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“This budget addresses a number of concerns that have arisen in Massachusetts over the past year,” said Rep. Roy. “At the same time, we have been successful in providing some increases in local aid, education, and public safety matters. It was also great to see that some of the local needs in Franklin and Medway were part of the final budget.”

The FY15 budget includes two amendments filed by Rep. Roy which sought $60,000 for the installation and operation of solar powered school zone safety lights in Franklin and $22,000 in funding for a hydraulic analysis of the dam in Choate Park in Medway.

Other items in the budget include:
  • $1.5 million for the STEM Pipeline Fund, which encourages and trains students across the state to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math to help meet the demands of the Commonwealth’s knowledge economy;
  • Establishes a process for all in-state and out-of-state direct shippers to receive a direct wine shipper’s license from the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) and allows for the collection of state taxes
  • Additional funding for the Department of Children and Families to hire more social workers and reduce caseloads for each individual social worker
  • $8 million for a salary reserve for human services workers; 
  • $100,000 to help the Best Buddies Massachusetts program to extend peer-to-peer inclusion programming in schools for individuals with intellectual disabilities;
  • Creation of a commission on zero emission vehicles, including electric and fuel cell vehicles;
  • Funding to help support seniors living at home in their own communities and a 10.6% increase in funding for local Councils on Aging; and
  • Supports the Massachusetts Cultural Council with $12 million in funding.
This budget reflects the Legislature’s pledge to combat the alarming rise in mental health problems and substance addiction. It allocates almost $18 million in new spending to help combat substance addiction including $10 million for the Substance Abuse Services Trust Fund to provide substance abuse services to an additional 10,000 individuals in need of treatment.

This year’s budget emphasizes the importance of enhanced fiscal predictability and sustainable investments, a practice that has raised Massachusetts bond rating to AA+, the highest in the state’s history. 

For more details on the budget, click here.

Bill includes SNETT funds

The House passed an environmental bond bill which includes $900,000 for improvements to the Southern New England Trunkline Trail (SNETT) at Prospect Street in Franklin. The funds will assist in constructing a bike tunnel in that section which is difficult to cross. 

The amendment was filed by Rep. Roy, D-Franklin and received bipartisan support in the House. It is now part of the $900 million for land and park conservation, including $121 million for the state Department of Conservation and Recreation’s trails and recreation facilities. The department owns the SNETT, one of the longest rail trails in southern Massachusetts.

The 22-mile trail that originates in Franklin passes through Bellingham, Millville, Uxbridge, Blackstone, to the Douglas State Forest, and will eventually make a continuous rail line through to Palmer. Future plans include linking the SNETT with trail lines running from Worcester, MA to Providence, RI and beyond. 

For the Milford Daily News report on the funding, click here.

Electric Youth charms State House

Electric Youth of Franklin stopped by the State House for a tour. Electric Youth is a professional ensemble of young performers presenting the best of American pop and contemporary Broadway music.

The group is currently on a 3 week European tour performing for American troops abroad and was kind enough to perform for at the State House both on the Grand Staircase and in the House Chamber.

Rep. Roy presented the group and their director Raye Lynne Mercer with a House Citation recognizing them for the release of their new CD and in honor of their European tour.

To view the video of one of their State House performances, click here.

Franklin Downtown work to begin soon

After years of waiting, the re-construction of the Franklin downtown is scheduled to begin soon. The project, which involves State and Federal funding, is a major roadway and streetscape improvement project.

The project includes elimination of the one way traffic pattern of Route 140 in the Downtown area, installation of interconnected traffic signals with emergency preemption system, period streetlights, traffic calming devices, resetting curbs where needed, ADA compliant sidewalks, resurfacing of streets, and streetscape/landscape improvements and furniture. 

It is expected that the project will take two construction seasons however, the official end date is summer of 2016.

There is a public construction meeting scheduled for July 10th at 6:30pm at Pierce Science Building at Dean College (click here for directions). The intent of the meeting is to inform the property owners affected by the construction as well as the entire community about the proposed schedule and work involved in the project. 

You can get more information and diagrams on the project by clicking here

Fire Ops 101

Rep. Roy  was proud to attend the Department of Fire Services Academy in Stow for a Fire Ops 101 program that had participants suited up in over 40 pounds of gear. The course included running into burning buildings, putting out a fire, rescuing a body from a burning building, and then operating the jaws of life.

"I spent the day at the Academy to get a first-hand look at what the job entails, and to learn what we cam do as legislators to help improve fire services in Massachusetts," said Rep. Roy. "It was certainly an eye-opening experience and makes me truly appreciate firefighters who risk their lives on a regular basis to save us," 

A special thank you goes out to Franklin Firefighter Bob Donovan for having Rep. Roy's back throughout the day.

Education Chief interview video

A few weeks ago, we sat down with Massachusetts Commissioner of Education Mitchell Chester to talk about the state of Massachusetts education. Please join Frank Falvey from FanklinTV as he interviews Chester, Rep. Roy, and Sen. Karen Spilka.

The video chat can be viewed by clicking on the image above or here.

Free Fun Fridays

Every Friday six museums and cultural venues will be open for Free Fun Fridays. 

Free Fun Fridays is the annual summer program that opens doors at no cost to visitors to many of the most treasured cultural venues in Massachusetts. This year, 60 museums and cultural venues will participate in the program. Beginning June 28th through August 30th, six 
cultural venues will be open free-of-charge every Friday for 10 weeks this summer. 

With Highland Street Foundation covering admissions costs, the cultural venues will be open for free on each Friday from June 28 through Aug. 30.

This year, the program welcomes back favorite sites like the Museum of Fine Arts, 
Boston and the Peabody Essex Museum, along with new venues, including The 
Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Barrington and the Ocean Explorium in New 
Bedford. You can get the full listing and more information by clicking here.

To learn more about the Free Fun Fridays, and the Highland Street Foundation, visit 
www.highlandstreet.org or join them at facebook.com/HighlandStreet and on Twitter 
@HighlandStreet.
 

LadyBug 40th Anniversary

Rep. Roy joined the students at JFK Elementary School in Franklin to celebrate the 40th Anniversary. 

Forty years ago, the second grade class at JFK helped to make a new state law designating the Ladybug as the official State bug of Massachusetts.

The Ladybug is the perfect symbol for the Commonwealth. Like the people of Massachusetts, the Ladybug is proud and friendly, brings delight to millions of children when she lands on them and displays her multi-colored wings, and she is extremely industrious and hardy. 

We are grateful to the students of JFK Elementary School for the hard work in making the Ladybug our State bug 40 years ago. And we are grateful to them for honoring those students, for adopting the Ladybug as their school mascot, and for spreading the message about them.

You can read the whole story about the Ladybug bill by clicking here.

House approves welfare reform package

The House voted unanimously to approve a package of welfare reforms intended to both prevent benefit fraud and abuse and to deliver supports to public assistance recipients with the goal of moving them off the rolls and into jobs.  The Senate approved the bill last week, and with and final enactment votes in both branches, the bill is now on Gov. Deval Patrick's desk.

The bill creates a program to connect "able-bodied" individuals with full-time jobs before they start receiving benefits and revives a "full employment program" aimed at placing benefit recipients in full-time jobs. Employers who hire individuals from the full-employment program would become eligible for a health care subsidy for one year followed by a tax credit of $100 per month up to $1,200, under the terms of the legislation.

The bill also requires the Department of Transitional Assistance to have specialists assigned to help high-risk recipients, and calls for the development of a program to allow benefit recipients to save money, outside of the asset limit of $2,500, toward first, last and security rent payments and for education as they transition off public benefits.

The duration of benefit extensions would be reduced, under the bill, and lawmakers are also looking to require that self-declarations of residency  be signed under the penalties of perjury, to ban self-declarations from being used as the only verification form of eligibility, and to increase penalties for store owners who knowingly allow the purchase of prohibited products or services, such as Lottery tickets, with an EBT card. Under the latter measure, store owners could face license suspensions.   
Copyright © 2014 State Rep Jeff Roy, All rights reserved.
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