Local Government and Politics, News

Lynn reaps benefits from $41.88 billion state budget

LYNN — The State House of Representatives and Senate’s approved $41.88 billion state budget includes a large amount of local aid for the city of Lynn.

Included for Lynn is $166.37 million of Chapter 70 funding, which is the major program of state aid to public and elementary schools and is a $9.34 million increase over last year, according to state Sen. Brendan Crighton’s office.

The state budget also allocates to Lynn $23.15 million in local aid, or unrestricted general governmental aid. It’s not clear yet what the breakdown is for the local aid, which goes into the city budget and can be used for anything, such as roadwork and school transportation.

Earmarks included for the city are $30,000 for State Police-directed patrols; $150,000 for the Lynn Police Behavioral Health Unit; a portion of $200,000 for Girls Inc., which will be split with three other communities; $90,000 for the E-Team Machinist program at Lynn Vocational Technical Institute; $40,000 for Cook, Kiley, Flax Pond and Ames Playgrounds; $15,000 for treatment and removal of invasive species in Lynn ponds; $55,000 for Red Rock Park; and $50,000 for Pilayella algae cleanup on King’s Beach and Long Beach.

In addition, Mayor Thomas M. McGee highlighted the $12.5 million in economically disadvantaged funding the state budget is allocating — some of that funding will go to Lynn, which is expected to be on par with what the city received in the past two years, and will supplement the Chapter 70 funding for the schools.

Last year, Lynn received $3.1 million in economically disadvantaged funding, which is meant to provide transitional relief for school districts disproportionately affected, or negatively impacted, when Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration changed low-income enrollment measurements.

School officials said the state government changed its metric for measuring poverty, which ended up penalizing Lynn, meaning that kids who were in the same financial system before the state changed the definition were not being counted. This is the third year Lynn will be receiving that funding, which was pending in the legislature during the city’s budget process.

“I think that was really important,” said McGee. “We were waiting on that. If that plays out like the last couple of years, that will mean more money for the schools.”

The mayor was pleased with the funds allocated to Lynn through the state budget.

“We’re pleased with the final version,” McGee said. “I want to thank my colleagues in the legislature for their hard work (and for) focusing on the issues of importance for the city of Lynn.”

Crighton said one of the Lynn legislative delegation’s top priorities has been the Lynn Police Behavioral Health Unit.

“(For) the past few years, we tried to provide them with the resources they need to tackle the opioid epidemic at a local level so that was nice level funding there,” Crighton said.

Crighton said the E-Team Machinist Program was another priority, which he said is an intense program done at Lynn Tech. He said there has been a lot of success in fostering the skills learned in that program, which has translated into connecting those individuals with well-paying jobs.

He also highlighted the investment in the city’s beaches and parks.

“One of Lynn’s greatest assets is our waterfront and beach in particular, so we were able to secure funding for the algae cleanup, as well as Red Rock Park maintenance,” he said.

Crighton said Lynn will also benefit from the $8 million in Shannon Grants statewide included in the budget, which help fund anti-gang and youth violence prevention efforts.

“Fortunately in Lynn, with four representatives, there are a lot more bites of the apple with respect to the state budget that could impact the entire city,” said state Rep. Daniel Cahill (D-Lynn). “I was fortunate enough to secure funding in the district I represent for projects such as park improvements, funding for public safety equipment for the Lynn Police Department and work with my colleagues in the House and Senate to secure funding for other projects throughout the city.”  

State Rep. Lori Ehrlich (D-Marblehead) highlighted the algae cleanup on King’s Beach and Long Beach. She said people passing along Lynn Shore Drive are familiar with the odor if cleanup if not done at the right time. The earmark is to ensure the funds are available for the Department of Conservation & Recreation to do the cleanup.

She also highlighted a statewide amendment, incorporated in the budget for Self Esteem Boston, which is a direct service provider that provides training programs, such as helping with job readiness or providing psychological counseling, for women who are facing serious life challenges. Those women may be recovering from addiction, or may be in domestic violence shelters.

Although the organization is based in Boston, it also services Lynn. About $150,000 is going to that program, she said, and Lynn’s focus is through Project Cope, the Ryan House and North Shore Rape Crisis Center.  

“Working with my colleagues in Lynn — right now it’s Dan Cahill, Brendan Crighton, and (state Rep.) Donald Wong (R-Saugus) — we all work together to make sure Lynn is taken care of in the annual budget,” Ehrlich said. “This year, though there is one (legislative) seat to fill, we make sure that all of Lynn receives the funding it needs.”

The state budget, which was approved last week, was late. Massachusetts legislators had a July 1 deadline to get the final budget approved, which has to be signed off on by Baker.

“I’d rather take our time and due diligence rather than rushing forward with anything,” Crighton said. “We’re really happy with the finished product.”

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