From the office of State Rep. Dylan Fernandes:
Capping off a long, four-day series of votes and budget negotiations in the State House, Representative Fernandes secured $225,000 in local earmarks for Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket on Thursday. The budget for fiscal year 2019 will now be debated in the Senate before being finalized in conference committee later this Spring.
As a first-term Representative, Fernandes was able to build upon his successful amendments in last year’s budget to establish consistent funding for shellfish propagation, a program touted by shellfishermen and environmental activists alike as a way of stimulating the local economy and cleaning up waterways. In the final House budget, $175,000 was allocated evenly to Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket counties. An amendment devoting $25,000 to mental healthcare and substance misuse treatment on Nantucket also made it into the final bill.
“Shellfish aren’t only delicious, they are a cultural, environmental, and economic driver in our region. This $175,000 appropriation helps sustain our shellfishing economy while also harnessing the natural filter power of shellfish to promote water quality,” said Fernandes
Also coming as a win for local clean water advocates was an amendment filed by Fernandes that allocates $25,000 for water quality improvements in the town of Falmouth. Fernandes fought for the amendment as a means of funding a permeable reactive barrier project in Falmouth, with the goal of reducing nitrogen loads in local estuaries.
“Our ocean, estuaries, and bays are among our most valuable resources and this funding will help advance a pilot program to mitigate nitrogen in our waterways and protect our environment” Fernandes remarked.
On a statewide level, the fiscal year 2019 House budget also included provisions hailed by progressives as important steps forward. Among the priorities successfully advanced by the House Progressive Caucus was a 30% increase in funding for the Department of Ecological Restoration over Governor Baker’s budget, as well as an additional $5 million for the early educator rate reserve, a fund used to recruit teachers and pay them competitive salaries. The Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, the organization responsible for providing legal counselor to low-income clients, also received a substantial $750,000 boost in funding. The Representative spoke to the achievements, saying that “as legislators we need to be doing everything in our power to lift up the most vulnerable in our society.”