Senator Velis secures $3.76M in statewide and district priorities through state budget

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – State Senator John Velis of Westfield, has accomplished a major feat by securing $3.76 million for various policy initiatives and organizations across the Hampden and Hampshire District and the Commonwealth.

These funds were allocated through 16 policy and funding amendments that Sen. Velis proposed during the three-day-long debate on the final FY’24 budget. The amendments, which were unanimously passed by the Massachusetts State Senate, focus on crucial areas such as veterans’ services, behavioral health supports, and other key priorities within the district and the state.

Sen. Velis, who serves as the Chairman of the Mental Health, Substance Use, & Recovery Committee and the Veterans’ & Federal Affairs Committee, expressed his gratitude to his colleagues for their support in adopting his amendments.

Among the notable veterans’ affairs amendments is Amendment 362, which allocates $500,000 to the Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program. This funding will facilitate the expansion of trauma services for veterans across the state.

Another significant amendment, Amendment 372, expands the eligibility for the MA Welcome Home Bonus to LGBTQ+ service members who were dishonorably discharged under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

In the realm of healthcare, Sen. Velis championed Amendment 531, which provides $500,000 to establish a Behavioral Health School Pilot Program. This initiative will enable school counselors and administrators to access a specialist hotline for discussing behavioral health issues with students.

Additionally, Amendment 378 requires the Board of Nursing Home Administrators to report on nursing home closures and their compliance with state regulations.

Furthermore, Velis secured funding for the Massachusetts Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs through Amendment 351. The amendment increases the funding by $800,000, raising the total to $3 million. This investment will support Boys & Girls Clubs across the Commonwealth in the upcoming operating year.

Sen. Velis also ensured the allocation of $750,000 in local funding for all nine municipalities in the district. This includes $250,000 for the Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce to promote building restorations and business upgrades in Holyoke, $50,000 for Bay State Noble Hospital’s opioid treatment and overdose prevention community grant program, and $50,000 for renovations to the West Springfield Council on Aging’s fitness center.

Expressing his dedication to his role as a senator, Velis emphasized his commitment to advocating for the district’s needs and priorities. He and his team actively engaged with local leaders and organizations to understand their requirements. Velis expressed his delight at securing this crucial funding in the Senate’s budget, which will go a long way in supporting the communities and various groups that significantly contribute to the well-being of the residents.

With the successful adoption of these amendments into the Senate’s budget, it will now move forward to a conference committee with the House of Representatives for further consideration.

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