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Senate budget highlights local milestones

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At the end of May, after 25 hours of debate, the Senate passed a comprehensive and fiscally responsible state budget for the upcoming fiscal year. I am proud of the hard work done by all members of the Senate to ensure that the right reforms and investments were made across the commonwealth so that we can continue in our economic recovery.
The Senate approved a $33.99 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2014, closing a $1.2 billion gap in with funding restrictions, ongoing revenue initiatives and one-time revenues. This final budget includes important funding to support several initiatives and programs on the South Shore and Cape Cod and focuses on the unique needs of our tourism, economic development and educational organizations.
The Senate budget highlights upcoming milestone celebrations for several towns in the Plymouth and Barnstable District. Sandwich will be celebrating its 375th anniversary and proud heritage in 2014. The Cape Cod Canal, a one-of-a-kind attraction, will be celebrating its centennial also in 2014 and, a few years later in 2020, we will celebrate the 400th anniversary of the town of Plymouth. The Plymouth 400th Committee is planning a truly memorable celebration for America’s hometown, and I applaud their dedication to this important event.
To coincide with the Plymouth 400th anniversary, this year the Senate budget also provided funding for the restoration of Mayflower II. The ship is a main tourist attraction in Plymouth and an essential token of its famous history. It must be seaworthy if it is to encourage visitors from home and abroad.
To further support the tourism industry in the commonwealth, the budget provides for visitor information centers in widely-traveled areas, such as the Plymouth waterfront. These centers will ensure that we have all the resources that visitors need during their visit to the South Shore and Cape Cod. We also offered an increase in funding for our regional tourism councils, which have been doing great work in making tourism one of our biggest and most successful industries.
Another priority of our work in the Senate is encouraging business growth. In December 2011, the South Shore/Canal Regional Economic Development District was established, and the professionals involved in this partnership have been working as successful advocates for the needs of our local businesses. Our towns and their businesses rely on these organizations for guidance, as well as providing support for growing and new businesses in our communities.
As in past years, we are also continuing to help the town of Bourne in its efforts to educate students from military families through the education pothole account, which provides state funding to towns that educate military dependents but do not receive the full cost of schooling through federal funds. Beginning in fiscal year 2005, Bourne received funding through the commonwealth’s Education Reserve Account, marking the first time that the town saw any type of additional financial assistance.
In addition, the final budget for next fiscal year includes funding for the implementation of a competitively big matching grant program for preschool programs. This innovative curriculum focuses on the topics of science, technology, engineering and math, which yield our nation’s most innovative and competitive careers. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, STEM occupations are projected to grow by 17 percent, compared to 9.8 percent growth for other occupations, throughout the next decade. In addition, STEM workers earn, on average, 26 percent more and are less likely to experience joblessness. Implementing these programs and new curriculums will give our children a strong start in life.
The Senate budget makes important and thoughtful investments that will help strengthen our services and programs while maintaining the fiscal health of the commonwealth. As we continue to recover, we must always remain cautious in our spending to look to where we can invest and rebuild.
The Senate budget will now go to a conference committee with members of the House of Representatives to work out any differences with the House’s version of the budget before going to the Governor for his signature.
For more information on the Senate budget, please visit:
Therese Murray is the president of the Massachusetts Senate and represents the people of Bourne, Falmouth, Kingston, Pembroke, Plymouth and Sandwich. Each month she writes about issues of importance from the State House to our backyards throughout the district. Find her on Twitter (@ThereseMurrayMA), Facebook (Senate President Therese Murray) and at
By Senate President Therese Murray
Wicked Local Plymouth

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