Op-Eds:

May 11, 2018
By

Imagine Boston, Imagine Jamaica Plain

By Mayor Martin Walsh

Every spring, the City of Boston releases our Imagine Boston Capital Plan for the next five years. It outlines where our city’s budget will be focused, our longer-term plans, and our priorities. Essentially, the capital plan details what initiatives and projects in your neighborhood and across the City that we’ll be investing in to make Boston’s future brighter.

From Jamaica Pond to the Curley K-8 School, it’s my priority to create growth and opportunity for every Bostonian in every neighborhood. Boston will be at its best when all its residents have the support and opportunity they need to thrive. Investing in initiatives and projects that bring shared growth, success, and greater equity is critical for our city to reach its full potential. Our Capital Plan invests in Boston’s strongest asset: our people. Boston is a city that’s world class because it works for the middle class, and our budget’s priority is to keep supporting the working families that make Boston great.

Here in Jamaica Plain, we’re investing in some exciting initiatives and projects that we hope you and your neighbors will enjoy for many years to come.

Last year, we completed a $10 million renovation to the Jamaica Plain Branch Library, the city’s most-visited library after our Central branch. This year we’re continuing to invest in Jamaica Plain’s well-loved resource, with a $200,000 investment to create and install permanent artwork at the library.

We’re also investing in Jamaica Plain’s schools, with a $840,000 investment at the Curley K-8 school, rebuilding the bridge and walkway that connects the two buildings.

Jamaica Plain has beautiful open spaces throughout the neighborhood — and this budget invests heavily in those spaces.          We’re investing $4.77 million for the revitalization of pathways around Jamaica Pond, along with improvements to accessibility and pond drainage. We’re investing $600,000 for structural repairs to stone walls near Bussey Brook on South Street and in the Arboretum. We’re also investing $679,000 in the restoration of Olmsted Park, including woodland restoration, stair stabilization, and landscape improvements. Finally, we’re investing $1.74 million in renovations to Parkman Playground, including upgrades to the pavilion, entrance, and perimeter of the park.

Our longer-term investments are intended to lift up our neighborhoods in ways that take into account the needs and wants of the community. With this Capital Plan, we’re preparing our city for the next year, and the years forward.

What’s the next step for the Capital Plan? I have submitted the City of Boston’s budget to the Boston City Council, where your City Councilor will review the proposed budget. Once the budget is approved, it will go into effect. This is the budget for fiscal year 2019, meaning the budget will take effect in July 2018, and run throughout the next 12 months.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to look through the budget proposal, online at budget.boston.gov. Together, I look forward to investing in our neighborhoods, and our people.

 

Meeting people where they’re at

By Local State Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez

On April 26, the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a $41.06B budget that invests in our most vulnerable and meets people where they’re at in their lives. This budget supports investments in safety net programs like MassHealth, which provides health insurance and dignity for the frail and working poor, as well as mental health, developmental, and housing services. In my first budget as Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, I’m proud to have worked with Representative Liz Malia, the Assistant Vice Chair of the Committee, to pass a progressive budget that supports the policies and programs in our community.

The House budget allocates funding that makes a real difference here in our community. $139 million will go towards recovery and treatment programs for people dealing with substance use disorder, including organizations like the Dimock Center and Self-Esteem Boston. It provides substantive increases to early education and care, which will boost teachers’ pay, increase retention, and improve quality for our children. Early education centers like the Nurtury Learning Lab inside Bromley-Heath significantly improve children’s early development, setting them up for success as they grow older. An extra $27 million for the MBTA will allow the T to improve its operating budget and provide better service until the new Orange Line trains begin service in 2019.

Ensuring quality, affordable housing across Massachusetts is a priority of the House budget. We do this by providing $100 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP). Administered in Boston by Metro Housing Boston, MRVP vouchers provide subsidies for low-income families to live in market-rate housing. Our funding level allows the state to offer more vouchers, so more families can call JP home.

The House budget also makes investments in our natural environment. It’s been over 15 years since the state’s checked the water quality of the Muddy River along the Emerald Necklace. Our $29 million investment in environmental protection will ensure the state has the resources to protect and enhance this valuable public asset.

As highlighted by Sandra Storey in the previous JP Gazette, the House budget repeals the “cap on kids,” a regressive policy that prevents TAFDC benefits for children if they were born while the family was receiving benefits. The increase to low-income families will help them to take care of their children, and will improve the health and wellbeing of the most vulnerable amongst us.

If you’ve ever shopped at the JP Farmers’ Market, you’re familiar with the fresh local produce they sell. The House budget creates opportunities for low-income families to access healthy food sold at farmers’ markets through the Healthy Incentives Program. Funded at $4 million, this program provides a dollar-for-dollar match to SNAP benefits, thereby increasing access and lowering the cost of farm-fresh produce for low-income families while creating more business for local farms.

Jamaica Plains’ thriving arts and culture scene is second to none. Community-run events like Open Studios, Music Fest, and Porchfest, institutions like the Eliot School and Footlight Club, public murals, organizations like the Hyde Square Task Force, and the thousands of artists who live here have made JP the epicenter of Boston’s arts. The budget supports these ventures through a $14.6 million allotment for the Massachusetts Cultural Council, which will help stoke investment in the arts here in JP and across the state.

Another aspect of the budget debate is what we don’t include. This year, I helped lead the effort to successfully defeat anti-immigrant amendments that would have banned immigrants from receiving services and defunded sanctuary cities. Instead, we ensured funding for programs that empower immigrants, including $32.6 million for Adult Basic Education, $34.6 million for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention, which funds refugee and immigrant safety and empowerment programs, and $7.6 million for the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. Immigrants have a vital role in Massachusetts, especially here in Jamaica Plain, and I will continue to stand up for immigrant communities.

The budget we passed is a progressive document that moves Massachusetts forward. I appreciate the opportunity I had to work with Representative Liz Malia, my colleagues in the House and so many constituents, advocates, and organizations on the most important bill we pass every year.

My first budget as chair of the Ways and Means Committee was an exciting and humbling experience, and I look forward to finishing the remainder of the legislative session, where we plan to tackle the issue of gun violence through the “red flag” extreme risk protective order bill (H3610), among other important topics.

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