State Representative Jeffrey Sánchez today announced that several items he sponsored for the Fiscal Year 2009 Budget were approved by the House of Representatives, including a number of key workforce development and youth violence prevention items.
Following through on his commitment to advocate for the priorities of his district and constituents within the constraints of a difficult fiscal climate, Representative Sánchez successfully lobbied for several new and current initiatives in the state’s budget appropriations.
“Focusing on programs that will prove more cost effective in the long run and where we get a return on our investment is the best approach in light of the Commonwealth’s budget deficit”, stated Sánchez. “That is why I have focused on priorities such as preventative care, education, workforce development, and programs for our youth knowing that these are strategic investments that will benefit my constituents in the immediacy and future.”
In light of a recent spate of violence in Jamaica Plain, Rep. Sánchez once again fought for youth violence prevention programs and summer jobs for youth, stating that “we have seen first-hand how crucial these programs are for our community and the need to invest in our youth”. Among the amendments supported by Sánchez and written into the final language of the bill include a $2 million increase in funding for the Senator Charles Shannon Jr. Safety Initiative for preventing youth and gang violence. In addition to the Shannon grant, the Youth Violence Prevention grants that benefit community youth-serving agencies such as Hyde Square Task Force and Sociedad Latina received a $1 million increase, along with a $1.7 million increase for youth employment, specifically summer jobs for at-risk youth.
Rep. Sánchez also supported a number of education amendments incorporated into the final House Ways and Means budget, knowing that adult basic education, elementary and secondary education and after-school programs have been priorities for his constituents. The adult basic education line item, including English as a Second Language classes, received a $1 million increase, as did the METCO program. “I would have liked to see more for ABE”, stated Rep. Sánchez, “but recognize that the budget is tight this year”.
The Representative was again able to secure a $200,000 earmark in the workforce development line item for the Jamaica Plain/Mission Hill Employment Collaborative. The earmark benefits organizations throughout the district seeking to prepare local residents to succeed in an increasingly competitive job market, including ABCD Parker Hill/Fenway Neighborhood Services Center, Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation, MissionSAFE, MissionWorks, Sociedad Latina and X-Cel Adult Education. “We need programs like the Employment Collaborative that will provide our residents the necessary skills to fill the over 90,000 job vacancies across the commonwealth”, said Sánchez.
Lastly, Representative Sánchez once again secured funding for the school based oral health program, ForsythKids. The program provides preventive dentistry services to students of the Maurice J. Tobin School and the Farragut Elementary School. Noting that dental disease continues to be linked to a variety of health issues, Sánchez explained that “the average cost of direct care for children in the Forsyth program is $100 per child per year, while the national average Medicaid oral health expenditure per child per year is $250.” “This program makes sense in the long run as a cost effective tool for preventing higher oral health costs for these children in the future, recognizing that many of them do not regularly see a dentist and some have never been to one at all”.
The Senate will soon take up its own budget recommendations as well, at which time Sánchez will work both to ensure that his budget initiatives are included in the legislature’s final recommendations and seek to increase funding for key items through the Senate and Conference Committee discussions.