News Briefs: Pignatelli secures funds for Berkshires; Cohen launches city council campaign
Pignatelli secures funds, language for 4th Berkshire District in final 2018 budget
Boston — Despite lower-than-expected state revenues, Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli, D-Lenox, joined House and Senate members Friday in passing a balanced budget for fiscal year 2018 which increases funding for schools, local aid and other essential state services.
Pignatelli was the lead sponsor of and secured the following items in the budget specifically for Berkshire and Hampden counties on the following items:
- $200,000 for the Berkshire Youth Development Project — The successful amendment will go to youth-serving agencies throughout Berkshire County including Railroad Street Youth Project, Berkshire United Way and the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition.
- A mandate that the Department of Transportation study the feasibility of building a new exit between Lenox and Westfield on the Massachusetts Turnpike and report back to the Legislature by July 2018. Pignatelli moved the language into the House budget and Senators Humason and Hinds jointly secured the language in the Senate budget.
- $100,000 for Soldier On to serve homeless veterans in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire counties.
Pignatelli was also the lead sponsor on a successful amendment that requires the Department of Health and Human Services to develop a plan to fully restore adult dental benefits to MassHealth. In 2010, the state eliminated most dental care benefits for adults in MassHealth, though a few benefits have been incrementally restored – cleanings, extractions and fillings are currently covered.
Pignatelli also supported the following outcomes in the final state budget:
- Chapter 70 (state funding for public schools) — $4.47 billion, a $118.9 million increase over FY’17
- Unrestricted local aid — $1.016 billion, a $40million increase over FY’17
- Regional school transportation — $61.5 million, a $500,000 increase over FY’17
- Bureau of Substance Abuse Services — $132.5 million to continue to fund beds, treatment centers, life-saving medications and recovery options for people struggling with addiction.
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Cohen announces candidacy for North Adams City Council
North Adams — Longtime North Adams resident Rebbecca Ann Cohen has announced that she will be running for seat on the North Adams City Council. Previously held by Nancy Bullet, the seat is now open following Bullet’s May 16 announcement that she would be leaving her chair effective July 1. In addition, Cohen will be campaigning for a city council at-large position in the November election.
Cohen, the director of human resources and compliance for her family’s businesses, Tunnel City Transport and Cariddi Auto, has been an active North Adams resident since returning to the city in 2012 after her pursuit of a master’s degree. Since then Cohen has formed personal and professional relationships in the Berkshires and is a 2016 graduate of 1Berkshire’s Berkshire Leadership Program.
While always passionate by the city she calls home, Cohen realized that getting politically involved in her community was the best way for her to give back and help the city continue to move forward. “North Adams is embarking on a very promising turn for the future and I am enthusiastic to get working on rendering our city a better place to raise our children. … The direction that North Adams is taking makes me excited about joining public office and I aspire to be part of the revitalization of our city.”
For more information, contact Rebbecca Cohen at (413) 884-4950 or firstname.lastname@example.org.