By Katherine Hapgood
Boston University Statehouse Program
BOSTON — MetroWest representatives have made their requests for funding for infrastructure, senior citizens, PFAS chemical removal, and early education and care from the $49.6 billion fiscal 2023 budget presented by the House Ways and Means Committee.
Such local earmarks — provisions directing funds to be spent on specific projects — aren’t typically “baked into the budget” when it is presented to House members, so any requests from legislators will be “put in through the amendment process,” explained state Rep. Danielle Gregoire, D-Marlborough.
Gregoire drafted amendments for six local projects in her home city, all of which are “infrastructure projects at municipal buildings,” she said.
Earmarks include sprinklers, physical repairs and a “pretty big paving project.” While Gregoire did not specify how much money she requested — she is uncertain what she’s “going to be able to get” — it was a “total ask of a significant amount of money.” Throughout the process, Gregoire “reached out to City Hall” several weeks before the April 15 amendment deadline to “make sure we had their priorities,” she said.
While Gregoire heads the Marlborough delegation, she will also “probably be co-sponsoring a couple of amendments” for Northborough and Westborough, along with “potentially also co-sponsoring some amendments for Framingham with the Framingham delegation.”
State Rep. Jack Lewis, D-Framingham, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, said the initial budget includes “a significant investment in early education and care, workforce development, support for those facing housing insecurity, and criminal justice reform.”
“Notable reforms funded by this budget include free school lunches, no-cost phone calls for people currently incarcerated, a new loan forgiveness program, and direct investments to support teachers of color,” Lewis said.
While Lewis did not detail which amendments he specifically requested, he said he and his MetroWest colleagues “filed several amendments to potentially fund local projects” and he “looks forward to learning more about the local priorities” of his colleagues.
As co-chair of the Massachusetts House Progressive Caucus, Lewis said he was “honored to see so much that we have worked toward” within the budget.
“Budgets are more than just numbers and spreadsheets. They are moral documents which embody our priorities and our values,” he said.
State Rep. Kate Hogan, D-Stow, said she made “several requests” for her district’s communities — Hudson, Stow, Maynard and Bolton.
These include funding for the Hudson Senior Center and Fresh Start Furniture Bank, a Hudson charity that distributes home goods and furniture donated by the public to people in need that have received a referral from a social service agency.
Hogan also made requests for OARS Inc., a nonprofit that aims to protect the Assabet, Concord and Sudbury rivers for public recreation, water supply and wildlife habitat.
She also made requests for Maynard & Acton Senior Shuttle, bridge repairs in Stow, ArtSpace Maynard, culverts for the Town of Bolton and the continuation of an AFFT Take-Back program, which removes firefighting foam containing PFAS chemicals.
The budget will be debated in the House starting Monday. But until a final budget is voted on before moving on to the Senate and then Gov. Charlie Baker, none of the local earmarks is guaranteed.
This article originally appeared in the MetroWest Daily News.