Senator Jason Lewis and Rep. Michael Day to Take Part in “Gov On the T” Day at Winchester Center

With both legislators working to ensure that our public transportation systems are fully functional and offer satisfactory service for our region’s commuters, Senator Jason Lewis and Representative Michael Day will take part in the first annual “Gov On the T” Day at the Winchester Center commuter rail stop.

The “Gov On the T” Day effort, the website for which is www.GovtOnTheT.org, was implemented to draw attention to the need to properly address service failures with the MBTA.  Participating state legislators will take public transportation into Boston on March 19, the last day of winter, and will listen to concerns directly from commuters.

Senator Lewis and Representative Day will take the 312 train on the Lowell Line departing from Winchester Center at 8:52am and arriving at North Station at 9:10am.  Additionally, the legislators will arrive at the Winchester Center station at 8:15am to speak with commuters, and they encourage commuters to bring their questions and concerns regarding public transit or any other issue of concern.

“I share the frustration many of our neighbors feel about the service failures by the MBTA,” said Senator Lewis.  “Many in our region rely on MBTA commuter rail, subway, and bus service to get to work, to school, and around our communities. Chronic problems in our public transit systems harm our economic well-being, our public safety, our environment, and our quality of life.  I commend the organizers of ‘Gov On the T’ Day for creatively drawing more attention to this issue, and I pledge to continue working with my legislative colleagues on solutions that will address short-term needs and long-term necessities.”

“The reliability and performance of our public transportation system is essential to Stoneham and Winchester, and it failed us during last month’s snowstorms,” said Representative Day.  “I hope this event draws more public attention to the systemic problems the MBTA faces, which won’t go away once the snow melts.  I will be working with leaders in the State House and in the Administration towards solutions to these problems, and I encourage commuters and others to continue to share their stories and proposed solutions with me.”

Earlier this month, Senator Lewis, Representative Day, and several legislators representing communities north of Boston submitted a letter to the MBTA and Keolis Commuter Services calling attention to the inadequate commuter rail service along the Haverhill and Lowell lines.  The letter can be found online at: http://senatorjasonlewis.com/2015/03/02/north-of-boston-legislators-submit-letter-to-mbta-keolis-on-inadequate-commuter-rail-service/.

Senator Jason Lewis Files Legislation to Strengthen Local Economic Development

With bolstering local economic growth being a top priority for the term ahead, Senator Jason Lewis filed important economic development legislation that will facilitate identifying opportunities for growth and development in our communities, enhancing our local economies.

An Act to Promote Economic Development would create a program to provide funding or other opportunities, such as technical assistance, to municipalities or regions that maximize opportunities for economic development planning and growth by meeting a series of criteria. These criteria would include a self-assessment of economic potential and the identification of unique strengths and assets. This bill would borrow the conceptual structure of the Green Communities program, which provides funding opportunities for municipalities that reduce and improve the use of energy, and would be administered through the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development.

An Act to Market Prioritized Development Sites would require the Massachusetts Office of Business Development to create and maintain a statewide searchable database of developable land and vacant sites, with listings submitted at no cost by local officials. This database would create a more comprehensive online marketing portal than currently exists for all locally prioritized sites across the state, giving each city and town the equal opportunity to submit prioritized development sites for inclusion.

“A vitally important role for state government is to be a supportive partner for municipal governments as they take proactive steps to strengthen their local economies and create jobs,” said Senator Jason Lewis.  “These two bills would enhance the ability of our cities and towns to take advantage of all opportunities to economically grow and thrive through increased resources and more comprehensive planning.”

The two bills were developed in consultation with the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that develops and pursues municipal policies to meet the present and future needs of Massachusetts’ cities and towns.

“These two pieces of legislation represent commonsense approaches that will make it easier for cities and towns to plan for, identify, and execute on opportunities to pursue economic growth,” said Geoffrey Beckwith, MMA Executive Director.  “I commend Senator Lewis for demonstrating leadership in the area of local economic development, and we look forward to working with him to pass this legislation and strengthen our communities’ local economies.”

Column: Strengthening Public Education for All Our Children

Benjamin Franklin famously said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”  That is a profound guiding notion as we seek ways to strengthen public education for all our children.

Massachusetts students perform very well when compared to students in other states and even other countries.  But these impressive results mask the constant struggle that our schools face to find adequate resources to meet growing demands and new challenges.

One of my top priorities since I first began serving in the state legislature has been to review and update the Chapter 70 school funding formula, which was originally created as part of the Commonwealth’s landmark 1993 education reform law.  The formula was supposed to ensure that every school district has the necessary resources to provide its students with a high quality education, but it is clear today that the formula does not (and, in some cases, never did) provide adequate and equitable funding to all districts.

Last year I was very pleased that legislation I filed to create a Chapter 70 Foundation Budget Review Commission was enacted by the legislature and signed by Governor Patrick.  The work of this special Commission will enable a careful and thorough examination of current educational needs and best practices, a vital first step toward achieving more adequate and equitable funding for all our public schools.  The Commission is due to issue its findings and recommendations in June and has been holding public hearings around the state to solicit input from parents, teachers, school administrators, community leaders, and other stakeholders.

I attended and testified at the hearing that was held in Danvers in November.  I stressed the fact that the Chapter 70 foundation budget no longer accurately reflects actual educational needs, putting school districts across the Commonwealth under enormous financial pressure.

The two largest drivers of actual costs that have far exceeded assumptions in the foundation budget are health insurance and special education.  We know that both of these cost drivers are largely beyond the control of our school departments or cities and towns.

Another cost category that was envisioned in the original foundation budget but has not kept pace with actual changes in educational needs and best practices is technology.  Consider that the Internet barely existed when the Chapter 70 formula was first established, and that the role of technology in our society and our schools is far greater today than it was in 1993.

An important issue that I emphasized in my testimony is the benefit of extended learning time (ELT).  We now understand much better than we did in 1993 the importance of additional time — through longer school days and/or longer school years — to provide academic and enrichment opportunities that can help close persistent achievement gaps.  I believe that ELT funding needs to be part of the foundation budget for those school districts that would like to implement it.

Finally, I spoke to the Commission about the need for greater access to affordable pre-school and the need for full-day kindergarten, which should be available to all families at no additional cost.  Research has shown us the exponential benefits of engaging our youngest learners.  This is an investment that pays great dividends over time.

Massachusetts was once the pioneer in education reform.  I hope that the work of the Foundation Budget Review Commission will help us once again lead the nation in ensuring that every school and every student can thrive and be successful.

You can learn more about school funding and the work of the Foundation Budget Review Commission at www.mma.org/foundation.  Please contact my office at Jason.Lewis@masenate.gov or (617) 722-1206 if you would like to share your thoughts on this topic or provide input directly to the Commission.

North of Boston Legislators Submit Letter to MBTA, Keolis on Inadequate Commuter Rail Service

Joined by a number of legislative colleagues, Senator Jason Lewis submitted a letter to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and Keolis Commuter Services, the private operator contracted to operate the commuter rail lines, calling attention to the wholly inadequate commuter rail service provided by the MBTA and Keolis along the Haverhill and Lowell lines.

Co-signing Senator Lewis’ letter were State Representatives Steve Ultrino, Bradley H. Jones, Michael Day, James Dwyer, and Paul Brodeur, all representing communities north of Boston.

“The continued service reduction is as indefensible as it is harmful to families’ economic well-being and quality of life,” said Senator Lewis.  “Nearly as troubling as the service reduction is the lack of consistent, reliable information from the MBTA and Keolis to commuters who are too frequently being literally left out in the cold.”

Last month, Senator Lewis submitted an op-ed column, which can be read at SenatorJasonLewis.com, drawing further attention to the urgent need for reliable public transit services and reviewing the origin of the MBTA’s financial difficulties contributing to current service failures.

The full text of the letter to the MBTA and Keolis reads:

Dear Interim General Manager DePaola and General Manager Francis:

Communities we represent in the Massachusetts Legislature are serviced by the Lowell and Haverhill commuter rail lines.  We are writing on behalf of our constituents to communicate the frustration and economic hardship caused by the unacceptably diminished level of service.

We recognize that the sheer volume of snow falling in a condensed period of time has been unprecedented.  However, the severe reduction in service at this point, along with continued delays amplifying the harmful impact of the service reduction, is indefensible.  Countless constituents have contacted our offices to report that scheduled trains don’t materialize or arrive only after significant delays, and those that do arrive are already so jam-packed with riders that those waiting are unable to board the train.  Compounding the frustration is the fact that many of these commuters purchased MBTA passes in advance and find that they are not receiving the transportation services for which they have already paid.

This is especially detrimental for inbound morning commuters on the Haverhill line for which the woefully inadequate “recovery” schedule offers preposterously few trains.  It is absurdly untenable that, if a Wakefield commuter misses the 7:36am inbound train (or if that train is too jam-packed to board), his or her next train doesn’t arrive until 10:45am.  This is simply outrageous.

We want to remind you that unreliable public transit is not simply an inconvenience.  Because many of these harmed commuters are simply trying to get to and from their place of work, and they depend on the reliability of the MBTA to make their living, it is truly economically injurious to the families we represent in the legislature.

Additionally, what our constituents find just as frustrating as the lack of service is the lack of communication from the MBTA and Keolis about the reality of the situation.  If a commuter cannot count on the service expected, it is incumbent on you to inform them quickly and accurately as to the situation so that the commuter can do their best to plan accordingly and minimize the harm done.

We strongly encourage both the MBTA and Keolis to return to a full schedule as expeditiously as possible.  Additionally, where passengers cannot board trains due to overcrowding as a result of cancelled trains and delays, the MBTA and Keolis should provide shuttle buses or other alternative transportation in order to get commuters to their destinations.

Thank you for considering the concerns we have laid out in this letter.  Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or if we can be of any assistance.  We hope you are doing everything imaginable to ensure that full service for the commuter rail is restored as soon as humanly possible and that all possible steps are taken to mitigate shortcomings in the meantime.

Column: Addressing Our Urgent Public Transportation Needs

Under 2015’s record snowfall, we have unfortunately seen the aging infrastructure of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) routinely fail.  I share your frustration and the frustration of many across the region as these failures have had a severe impact on commuters, families, and local businesses.

The MBTA provides public transit services to 176 communities across Massachusetts, servicing a population of nearly five million, making it America’s fifth-largest mass transit system.  A modern, reliable, affordable public transportation system is of critical importance to the greater Boston area, including our communities.  It is necessary for the Commonwealth’s economic health and growth; just consider how many people-hours of work were lost due to the MBTA’s shutdowns and delays.  Further, public transit vastly improves our environment by giving commuters an alternative to increasing automotive traffic.  Finally, an excellent public transit system vastly improves the region’s quality of life.

The MBTA faces significant financial problems that are largely beyond their making.  The root cause stems from decisions that were made in 2000 when the MBTA was re-born with the passage of “Forward Funding” legislation.  Prior to 2000, the state legislature would appropriate money each year to pay for the portion of the MBTA’s costs not covered by their own revenues (all major public transit systems in the United States rely upon a mix of system-generated revenues and public subsidies).

Under the Forward Funding legislation, the MBTA was given 20% of all sales tax revenue collected annually by the state, and was required to manage its own budget.  This seemed prudent since it would force the MBTA to run more efficiently and end each year with a balanced budget.  From 1990-2000, sales tax revenue grew at an average of 6.5% per year.  Unfortunately, since 2000, sales tax revenue has grown at a far lower rate, well below revenue projections that were assumed in the Forward Funding plan.

Along with lower revenue than anticipated, the MBTA, like many businesses, has also faced rapidly rising energy and healthcare costs.  The MBTA is the largest user of electricity in Massachusetts, and has seen its energy costs rise from $40 million in 2000 to $110 million in 2011.  Healthcare costs for employees have doubled in the same time period, much as they have for other employers.

The MBTA’s debt stands at about $9 billion, giving it the highest debt burden of any public transit system in America.  This cripples the ability of the MBTA to make urgently needed repairs, upgrades, and renovations to its aging infrastructure as nearly 25% of the MBTA’s budget goes solely to debt service.  However, once again, this is a situation that is largely not of the MBTA’s own making.

A decision was made in 2000 to transfer $3.3 billion of transportation-related debt from the state to the MBTA.  Furthermore, as a result of settlements to lawsuits brought against the Big Dig, the MBTA was mandated to construct a number of new public transit projects that required the assumption of more debt.  This high debt burden has been an untenable anchor on our public transportation system.

Over the past five years, the MBTA has made substantial efforts to cut expenses, find efficiencies, and increase non-fare revenues.  They have partnered with NSTAR to use energy efficient lighting, joined the state’s healthcare plan which has a good track record of managing costs, restructured debt, and eliminated positions and overtime spending for employees.  New initiatives to increase revenue have included expanded advertising and sales of MBTA merchandise.  The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) also made the difficult decision to raise MBTA bus, subway, and commuter rail fares several times.

The state legislature has also taken important steps in recent years to implement substantial reforms and to increase investment in our transportation system, including the MBTA.  An Act Modernizing the Transportation Systems of the Commonwealth, passed in 2009, eliminated the Turnpike Authority and created a consolidated and streamlined MassDOT.  It has saved tens of millions of taxpayer dollars, made our transportation agencies more efficient and responsive to public needs, and significantly improved overall management of transportation services.  For example, the new MassDOT was responsible for the impressive Fast 14 Project that repaired crumbling bridges on I-93 in 2011.

Then, in 2013, the state legislature passed an $800 million transportation funding bill, An Act Relative to Transportation Finance, designed to increase investment in the maintenance and repair of roads, bridges, and public transit.  Unfortunately, the financing package in that legislation partially unraveled, including most recently with the voters’ repeal last year of indexing the gas tax to inflation.  That alone resulted in an estimated loss in revenue dedicated to transportation of more than $1 billion over the next decade.  We can only wonder, with Mother Nature exposing the dire need for investment in our transportation infrastructure, whether the result of this ballot question vote would be different today.

When our public transportation systems do not function, our economy is harmed and our public safety is put at risk.  This is simply unacceptable in the 21st century.  The Baker administration and we in the state legislature must make the urgently necessary investments in our transportation system and enable the MBTA to make clearly needed upgrades, repairs, and renovations.  If we do not address these obvious shortfalls in our public transportation system, I fear that the service failures we have encountered amid historic snowfall in 2015 could become more commonplace in the months and years ahead.

Senator Jason Lewis Appointed Chair of Senate Special Committee on Marijuana

Senator Jason Lewis has been appointed by Massachusetts Senate President Stan Rosenberg to serve as the Chair of the Senate’s newly created Special Committee on Marijuana for the 2015-2016 legislative term.

Given the expectation that an initiative petition to legalize marijuana in Massachusetts may be on the ballot in the 2016 election, following the direction that a number of other states across the country have taken in recent years, the purpose of the Senate Special Committee on Marijuana is to be proactive in researching and analyzing potential ramifications if Massachusetts were to move in that direction.

The special committee will review Massachusetts’ experience to date with changes in marijuana policy, as well as lessons to be learned from other states, particularly Colorado, that have already legalized marijuana.  This review will consider a wide variety of information on relevant issues, including public health, public safety, economic and financial impacts, regulatory frameworks, and compliance with federal law.

“I look forward to commencing the work of the committee in undertaking an in-depth and comprehensive review of the best available data and evidence concerning the potential impacts, costs, and benefits of marijuana legalization,” said Senator Lewis.  “I commend Senate President Stan Rosenberg for his leadership in seeking to proactively address this important issue.”

“As Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health, Senator Lewis’ experience and knowledge of public health issues will allow him to take an in-depth look at the issues surrounding both medical and recreational marijuana.  This is an issue that is changing quickly in the public landscape, and we as a legislature need to be proactive about learning as much as we can about the issues surrounding marijuana,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg.  “Senator Lewis has the work ethic, intellect, and knowledge to take on this task, and I look forward to the results of the committee.”

In addition to his role as Chair of the Senate Special Committee on Marijuana, Senator Lewis also serves in a leadership capacity as Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health and Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Steering and Policy.  Additionally, Senator Lewis serves as a member of the Joint Committees on Education; Labor and Workforce Development; and, Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities; as well as the Senate Post Audit and Oversight Committee.

Column: Civil Rights and Criminal Justice Reform

We recently celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a good time to reflect on Dr. King’s legacy and the state of civil rights today.

Many people are surprised to learn that Dr. King had a strong connection to the City of Boston and to Massachusetts.  Indeed, he often referred to Boston as his second home. In the 1950s, he studied at Boston University where he earned his doctorate.  And, it was in Boston that he met Coretta Scott, a student at the New England Conservatory, who would become his wife.

This year is the 50th anniversary of an important speech that Dr. King delivered to a joint session of the Massachusetts legislature on April 22, 1965.  The day after that speech, he led what was described as Boston’s first giant freedom march.

I imagine that Dr. King was drawn to Massachusetts, at least in part, because of our legacy of being at the forefront of civil rights and human rights in American history.  For hundreds of years, Massachusetts has stood as a beacon of progress, advancing equality and opportunity for all people.  The first woman to legally vote in the American colonies was Lydia Taft of Uxbridge, back in 1756.  Massachusetts was one of the first states to abolish slavery in the 1780s.  In the middle of the 19th century, Horace Mann championed universal public education for all children.  And, of course, in recent years we were the first state to recognize same-sex marriage.

But, if Dr. King were still alive today, I think he would be dismayed that, even here in Massachusetts, we still have a long way to go to realize his dream of true racial equality and justice for all.  There are those who believe that with a black president in the White House — and a just recently departed black governor in Massachusetts — we are now living in a colorblind society.  They should read Michelle Alexander’s powerful and devastating book, The New Jim Crow.  This book, which lays bare the truth about mass incarceration and racial injustice, along with recent events we have all witnessed in Ferguson, New York, and elsewhere, should make it abundantly clear that, sadly, our society is still far from colorblind.

Consider this shocking statistic here in Massachusetts: people of color make up about 20% of our state’s population, yet almost 80% of those convicted of drug offenses are black or Hispanic, despite the fact that all races abuse drugs at roughly equal levels.

Given the growing awareness that our criminal justice system is far from colorblind and that mass incarceration is costing taxpayers enormous amounts of money, I’m hopeful that the Massachusetts legislature will seriously tackle criminal justice reform during this new legislative session.  Some of the areas that I believe we need to reform include getting rid of mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenses, bail reform, strengthening diversion programs that provide treatment rather than incarceration for mental health and substance abuse, and making it easier for those who have served their time to reintegrate into the community and become productive members of society.  These reforms would not only make our criminal justice system more just, they would also make our communities safer and save tens of millions of dollars in scarce public resources.

A number of other states are actually ahead of Massachusetts in implementing these kinds of reforms, including Texas, Colorado, and Mississippi.  Criminal justice reform presents an excellent opportunity for bipartisan solutions.

As Martin Luther King said, “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”  We can continue the work of Dr. King by tackling today’s civil rights challenge of criminal justice reform.

Senator Jason Lewis Appointed Senate Chair of Legislature’s Public Health Committee

Senator Jason Lewis is very pleased to announce that he has been appointed by Massachusetts Senate President Stanley Rosenberg to serve as the Senate Chair of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Health for the 2015-2016 legislative term.

Senator Lewis brings experience leading the Public Health Committee.  When Senator Lewis served in the state House of Representatives, he served as House Vice Chair of the Public Health Committee from January of 2011 until his special election to the Senate in April 2014.  Senator Lewis also serves as Senate co-Chair of the Legislature’s Prevention for Health Caucus, which he helped found in 2011.

“I am enthusiastic to have the opportunity to help shape public policy at the committee level on a wide array of issues relating to public health,” said Senator Lewis.  “I look forward to continuing my work on containing healthcare costs and promoting healthy communities and disease prevention, as well as working on related issues of mental health and drug addiction.”

Senator Lewis’ legislative record includes a number of successes in the area of strengthening public health.  He led the effort to create a first-in-the-nation Prevention and Wellness Trust, which has allotted $60 million to community-based public health and wellness programs across the Commonwealth, aimed at reducing rates of preventable chronic diseases and lowering healthcare costs.

Senator Lewis also introduced legislation signed into law by Governor Patrick that ensures a sustainable and secure funding source is available so that all children in Massachusetts have access to all recommended immunizations.  Additionally, signed into law as part of a transportation bond bill, Senator Lewis’s proposal to create an Active Streets Certification Program was passed.  The program will provide $50 million in funding for local communities to help them implement complete streets design elements that promote increased physical activity and wellness, as well as support local businesses.

In addition to his role as Senate Chair of the Public Health Committee, Senator Lewis received his full slate of committee assignments.  He will serve as Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Steering and Policy, the influential committee that helps shape the state Senate’s agenda and advises the Senate President on legislative issues.  Senator Lewis will also serve as a member of the Joint Committees on Education; Labor and Workforce Development; and, Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities; as well as the Senate Post Audit and Oversight Committee.

Column: An Agenda to Strengthen Our Communities

I believe that our communities are best served when our state legislators work in close partnership with residents, local businesses, community leaders and local elected officials.  Working together, I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made since last April when I was first elected to represent the Fifth Middlesex district in the state Senate.

Last week, I was honored to be sworn in as State Senator for the 2015-2016 legislative session which began on January 7.  I’m eager to continue our work in this new legislative session on behalf of the residents of Malden, Melrose, Reading, Stoneham, Wakefield, and Winchester.

My first priority will continue to be promoting local economic development opportunities and securing resources for important needs in our communities.  When the legislature once again tackles the state budget in the months ahead, I will focus on advocating for critical resources for our communities, including Chapter 70 education funds, unrestricted local aid, the special education circuit breaker, elder services, veterans programs, public health and other essential programs and services upon which our communities depend.  Transportation and infrastructure investment is also critical to public safety and local economic development; I will continue to work collaboratively with our municipal leaders to address needs in these areas.

Another key priority will be updating and reforming our education funding formula to ensure that all our public schools receive adequate and equitable funding from the state.  I’m excited that after many years of championing this issue, the legislature has now established a Chapter 70 Education Foundation Budget Review Commission.  This Commission has already begun meeting and holding public hearings around the state to collect input and ideas from school officials, teachers, parents, and citizens.  I’m hopeful that the Commission’s recommendations, expected later this year, will provide clear direction and an impetus for action from the legislature and our new Governor, Charlie Baker.

Healthcare has also been a signature agenda item for me in the past and will continue to be during this new legislative session.  Working to contain healthcare costs while improving quality and affordability has been the aim.  We have had success by focusing on opportunities for investing in preventative care, and I will seek to expand on this in the years ahead.  I believe we must also urgently focus more attention and resources on treating mental health and substance abuse in our communities.

Because our economy thrives when everyone has access to opportunity, issues of economic justice —  working for greater shared prosperity, reducing poverty, helping working families, and supporting our communities’ small businesses and entrepreneurs — will be of paramount importance as we move forward and will continue to be a legislative priority for me.

Finally, we must continue to improve transparency and accountability in state government.  We have made significant strides in recent years with major reforms in many areas, but with resources already stretched thin we will need to pursue innovative ideas and new opportunities, such as social impact bonds, to deliver services and programs as smartly and efficiently as possible.

Your input and feedback are always welcome.  Please contact my office anytime at (617) 722-1206 or Jason.Lewis@masenate.gov, visit us at the State House, or attend regular Office Hours which we hold across the district.  My staff and I will always be available to offer our assistance in any way we can.

I look forward to continuing our work together to strengthen our communities in the months and years ahead.

Wakefield Delegation Announces Passage of Wakefield Veterans Funds Bills

The Wakefield state legislative delegation, including Senator Jason Lewis and Representatives Paul Brodeur and Donald Wong, is pleased to announce that, in one of his last acts as Governor, Governor Deval Patrick signed into law two Wakefield home rule petitions.  The new laws allow for the creation of voluntary check-off boxes on municipal tax bills giving Wakefield taxpayers the option of donating directly to the “Wakefield Veterans Relief Fund” and the “Wakefield Veterans Memorial and Patriotic Celebration Fund.”

The Wakefield Veterans Relief Fund supports Wakefield military veterans and their dependents in need of immediate assistance, including, but not limited to, commercial food cards and heating and oil assistance.  The Wakefield Veterans Memorial and Patriotic Celebration Fund will help finance the creation and restoration of monuments and other activities in Wakefield that honor the contributions and sacrifices of Wakefield’s military veterans.

“Wakefield clearly appreciates their veterans and continually provides avenues of support that improve veteran quality of life,” said Ryan McLane, Director of Veteran Services for Melrose-Wakefield-Saugus.  “This is the type of measure that provides long-term sustainable support to our veterans, and we appreciate the hard work of the Wakefield Veterans Advisory Board and the legislative delegation in making this happen.”

“We can never do enough for our veterans,” said Stephen Maio, Wakefield Town Administrator.  “This legislation will allow all citizens to say ‘thank you for your service’ in a meaningful and convenient manner.  I am grateful for the support of our citizens and the hard work of our entire legislative delegation in securing this passage.”

“We are truly grateful for, and sincerely admire, the brave and selfless service of our military veterans,” said Senator Lewis.  “I am very happy that the signing of these bills into law will give the residents of Wakefield more opportunities to offer support for our veterans.”

“The residents of Wakefield have always been incredibly supportive of our veterans,” said Representative Brodeur.  “I know they will take this opportunity to generously support our veterans, and celebrate and honor their service through these funds.”

“It is with great pleasure to announce that we were able to pass the two Wakefield veterans bills,” said Representative Wong.  “I’m pleased to know that the residents of the Town of Wakefield will have the opportunity to show their appreciation for and give back to our veterans.”