Cariddi Fields Questions About The State Budget

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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State Rep. Gailanne Cariddi discussed some of her budget priorities at last week's Maple Grove Civic Club meeting.

ADAMS, Mass. — State Rep. Gailanne Cariddi says her three major priorities in the House of Representatives budget were education funding, school transportation funding, and Berkshire Rides Funding.

The North Adams Democrat explained her priorities and the budget process to the Maple Grove Civic Club last Sunday.

She said she fought to raise education funding as much as she could after meeting with Adams-Cheshire Regional School District Superintendent Kristen Gordon and state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing to discuss the significant shortfalls in the district's budget.

"I knew of the severe short fall in the regional school budgets for this year," Cariddi said. "We were fully aware that A wasn't meeting B and that there were problems there."

She said the budget proposed by Gov. Charlie Baker had a $20 increase per student. She said she signed on with other legislators who wanted to raise it to $50 per capita, but House budget was only able to reflect a $25 increase.

There were more representatives attending the education budget hearings, which she said indicates that education funding is a problem across the commonwealth.

"Every community is unique, and their school system is, too, but one item that is not unique is that all schools are feeling the effects of not having enough funding," she said. "It's something that is across the commonwealth except in probably the richest communities."

Cariddi said the House budget also reflects an 80 percent transportation reimbursement for schools. She said former Gov. Deval Patrick had knocked it back by 20 percent.

"I know communities many years ago were talked into regional schools, and the government said they were going to pay for them," she said. "Well we are trying to get it up there as high as we can."

Cariddi added that she fought along with other colleagues to get some kindergarten grants into the budget, which was marked for zero in the governor's budget. She said she also fought for $50,000 in the budget for the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition.

Cariddi said she advocated for $100,000 for BerkshireRides, which provides low-cost transportation to work and appointments, in the House budget as well as $100,000 for the Berkshire County Youth Development Project.

When asked why so many new schools were being built when there is a focus on regionalizing, Cariddi said she would like to propose legislation to set aside a portion of the money generated to build new schools for regional school districts.

The state sets aside a penny from the 6.25 percent sales tax toward school construction and renovation. Regional transportation and educational funding comes out of the general budget.

"I thought about taking that money stream that is already there and taking a portion of that to make sure that regional school districts are properly funded," she said. "Especially in the transportation end of it."

Cariddi also discussed bills she has sponsored that include a measure that would provide breaks on state fees for businesses and a bill that would create guidelines for fundraising telephone calls.

She said she also filed two bills related to the closing of the North Adams Regional Hospital that would make sure governing bodies in a hospital are provided with education so they know their financial responsibilities to the institution they are managing and one that requires them to hold one community meeting every year where the public can ask questions. 

The Maple Grove Civic Club meets the third Sunday of the month at the Polish National Alliance from fall to late spring. Those interested in civic issues are welcome to attend; the club is accepting members from Adams, Cheshire and North Adams..

Tags: Cariddi,   chapter 70,   Maple Grove Civic Club,   regionalization,   state budget,   

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