Legislature Overrides Baker Vetoes, Restores $110,000 Funding To Tewksbury
Aug 10, 2015 03:18PM
● By Bill Gilman
The State Legislature sent a firm message to Gov. Charlie Baker last week -- we're ready for more fiscal responsibility, but not austerity.
In a series of votes that were registered as unanimous, the Legislature successfully overrode several line item vetoes issued by Baker to the State's $38.1B FY 2016 Budget. Some of these vetoed by Baker were critical to Tewksbury, including $90,000 reimbursement to the Fire Department for the large number of calls the department makes to Tewksbury State Hospital.
Speaking of the Tewksbury Hospital, the Legislature restored language in the budget that would protect the hospital from funding cuts proposed by Baker that would have slashed beds and jobs. These cuts were projected to place the hospital in risk of possible closure of a ward specializing in the treatment of elderly patients with advanced issues, including Alzheimer’s, which would have resulted in the displacement of patients to other facilities or possible discharge.
"I am pleased with the results of this budget, both with respect to our two communities as well as the Commonwealth” said state Rep. Jim Miceli, D-Wilmington. “We worked very hard to override the governor’s vetoes to ensure that the budget was balanced without cutting local programs, such as the special needs program in Tewksbury known as Camp Pohelo ($20,000) or the Wilmington High School Wildcat Service Program, which allows students to volunteer in their local community. These programs are critical to the well-being of our respective towns, and I am pleased to have been able to obtain financial support in this budget to ensure their continued success.
In all, the Legislature overrode almost 90 vetoes and restored roughly $97 million in spending to the fiscal 2016 budget cut by Baker. Both the House and Senate are now on recess from formal sessions for August, with plans to come back in September to deal with public records reform legislation, a budget bill filed by Gov. Baker to close out fiscal 2015, and to address a bill in the Senate pertaining to clearing titles on foreclosed properties.
The budget also includes $20,000 to fund the new Tewksbury High Best Buddies program.
In addition to the discussion of budget-related veto overrides, the House of Representatives also lively debated a number of other bills, including the authorizations of a sales tax holiday and support for full-day kindergarten grants in communities pursuing such programs. Both bills, despite light opposition and debate, were approved by the both the House and the Senate chambers. The sales tax holiday is slated for the weekend of August 15-16, allowing consumers to exempt themselves for sales tax on most purchases under $2,500, following approval by the governor.