What the budget means for our district

By State Sen. Nick Collins

As I wrap up my first legislative session as your state senator, I am proud of what we have accomplished, and excited about the work ahead. I want to take a moment to share with you some of the details on what we have been working on.

In the time since my swearing in, I have secured over $2.65 million in FY19 direct appropriations and nearly $200 million in bond authorizations for capital needs and strategic economic and environmental investments across the First Suffolk district. We have passed automatic voter registration, strengthened election integrity, created additional tools to address the substance abuse epidemic, reformed our criminal justice system, raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour, established responsible regulations on short-term-rentals, and laid a framework for a sustainable energy future in the Commonwealth.

One of my proudest achievements was passing the Clean Energy Bill to set short and long-term goals for renewable energy standards, greenhouse gas emission reductions, job creation in the green economy, and real public health metrics. Reflecting our commitment to healthy communities, I pushed for an environmental justice provision that would ensure fair access to clean energy for communities most impacted by environmental health disparities like asthma, because I know that protection from pollution and access to affordable renewable energy are cornerstones of clean and healthy neighborhoods.

We also affirmed our continuing commitment to greenspace by passing a $2 billion environmental bond bill that included a number of open space investments for the First Suffolk district: $2 million for the Dot Greenway project in Dorchester, an activated open space pedestrian footpath between Ashmont and Shawmut stations; $1 million for trees to be planted across Mattapan, Dorchester, and Hyde Park; $1 million for the renovation of the Coppens Square Fountain and park in Bowdoin-Geneva; $300,000 for public access improvements to the waterfront along the Neponset River on Edgewater Drive in Mattapan; $300,000 for the greenhouse at Fowler-Clark Epstein Farm in Mattapan; $250,000 for an indoor golf education and recreation facility in Mattapan; and $250,000 for renovations to Ryan Playground on River Street in Mattapan.

Residents across the First Suffolk district and across the state deserve access to quality greenspace, and I am proud to prioritize these investments that will enhance the overall quality of life for so many.

My colleagues in the Senate and I just recently passed a $600 million economic development package to boost Massachusetts businesses and catalyze economic growth. In Boston that includes $10 million for veteran, senior, and workforce housing;  $1 million for the renovations in Uphams Corner, including commercial and business-incubator space;  $350,000 to provide technical assistance to black owned businesses in Boston; $250,000 for career readiness programming in Dorchester;  $100,000 for job training, workforce placement, and ESL programming; and $200,000 for a job training program in public housing in South Boston.

Quality public facilities help communities thrive. From libraries to community gardens, these services are central to our quality of life. That’s why I am proud to say we secured nearly $60 million for public facilities across every neighborhood in the First Suffolk, including $19 million for renovations and repairs to the Dorchester District Courthouse; $10 million for the construction of a Boston Public Library in the South Boston Waterfront; $10 million for upgrades and improvements at the Uphams Corner Library and Strand Theatre; $1.5 million for the restoration of the Old Comfort Station Building in Mattapan Square; $500,000 for public access infrastructure on the Neponset River in Mattapan; and  $500,000 for the Factory Hill Park and Community Garden in Hyde Park.

Through a statewide Life Sciences investment bond authorization, our office was able to secure $20 million for a center for nursing innovation at the University of Massachusetts Boston campus to provide students and practitioners access to state of the art simulation labs and clinical training and research spaces. We crafted language that ensures funds will go to promoting diversity in the field of life sciences, including investing in neighborhood businesses and investing in school districts with diverse populations. I am proud that this legislation reaffirms my commitment to diversity and excellence in the life science industry at UMass Boston and across the state. I know how important the campus is to Boston residents, and am committed to ensuring that the community has the opportunity to grow and thrive along with the University.

While I am proud of the success we have achieved, there is still much work to do, from economic opportunity, to public health, to improving transportation reliability, and quality education for every child. I look forward to the next legislative session and finding more ways to improve the quality of life for all Massachusetts residents.