Digital Communities

Massachusetts Legislators Slot $75K into State Budget for Radios for Gloucester Police

The veto override from the state Senate secures the Gloucester Police Department with $75,000 for new communications equipment.

by Ray Lamont, Gloucester Daily Times / August 1, 2018
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(TNS) — The Massachusetts state Senate has overridden Gov. Charlie Baker's budget veto of a $75,000 package to secure new communications equipment for the Gloucester Police Department.

The veto override — which followed a similar step by the House of Representatives — secures funding for new emergency radios for the police department in the new $41.9 billion fiscal 2019 budget signed into law Gov. Charlie Baker last Thursday, said state Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester. Tarr said the override passed the Senate on Monday night, and caps a series of budget line items aimed at programs on Cape Ann.

Additional money — $1.3 million for infrastructure and technology for the growing Gloucester Marine Genomic Institute, and $2 million in annual funding for the Fishing Partnership — is included in both the House and Senate versions of an economic development bond bill that gained final Senate approval late Tuesday afternoon, Tarr said.

The GMGI funding would support the Gloucester-based research institute's evaluation of the data it collects, and may include the installation of fiber optic cables, Tarr noted.

The money for the Fishing Partnership, matching the amount called for in the House bill and backed by Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante, D-Gloucester, would provide $1 million above the partnership's current annual allocation, Tarr said. The partnership provides health insurance, safety training and other services for fishing families, including more than 700 on Cape Ann.

Tarr noted that steering money to the Fishing Partnership requires an added twist. Funding for the organization is capped at $6 million, but the additional $1 million this year would raise the partnership's total amount to $7 million. So, in addition to pushing for the funding, Tarr also emphasized the need to lift the cap.

"We're trying to make sure that we get the right language in the bill, so that it only gets the money to the partnership, but that it lifts that cap to make it happen," he said.

While the budget funding is in place, the inclusion of the GMGI and Fishing Partnership funding in the economic development bill and its Senate passage Tuesday still don't mean the check is in the mail.

Even upon approval of a bond bill, the release of any of its funding is determined by the governor. Bond bills give the governor authorization to borrow the money to fund projects, Tarr noted, though he is not compelled to do so.

As to state budget money already secured, the $75,000 boost for The Grace Center, a $125,000 allocation – essentially a matching grant – for planning Gloucester's 400th anniversary celebration in 2023, and $25,000 for The Open Door were earmarked by Tarr in the Senate and Ferrante on the House side.

The Senate on Tuesday also gave final legislative approval to a plan that requires the state Division of Marine Fisheries to complete a study of the lobster fishery and provide a recommendation regarding statutory or regulatory changes to allow the processing of lobster parts.

Tarr sponsored an amendment to direct the DMF toward new regulations permitting on-shore processing of lobsters as part of a Senate environmental measure.

©2018 the Gloucester Daily Times (Gloucester, Mass.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.