Norm Needleman


Norm Needleman



June 15, 2021

Sen. Needleman Votes For Budget Implementer, Ensuring Biennial Budget Goes Into Effect; Highlights GIS, Education Benefits

Today, State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) joined the Senate’s approval of an implementer bill ensuring the biennial state budget, agreed upon last week, will go into effect for the 2022 and 2023 fiscal years. The legislation, in addition to ensuring the $46 billion budget can move forward without issue, features a variety of benefits for the state; Sen. Needleman noted the benefits offered by parts that will bolster the efficiency of geographic information systems statewide, enhancing state availability of resources, and improve education resources for schools across his district.

“I was proud to vote yes on the no-tax-hike state budget and I’m proud to approve this implementer which will fund and support so many vital programs throughout our state,” said Sen. Needleman. “I’m especially encouraged by provisions in the implementer supporting local education and pushing adoption and implementation of important geographic technology in our state toward modern uses. It’s encouraging that these, and many other resources, will soon be made available across our state.”

Among the significant changes in the implementer is the establishment of a Geographic Information Systems Office within the state’s Office of Policy and Management, hiring a Geographic Information Officer to support use of the technology around the state. This would not only improve state access and development of GIS systems but better encourage collaboration between and among state agencies in doing so, streamlining access to data and supporting ongoing efforts. Statewide coordination of this data is vital, as some groups have noted lack of centralized access to data, lack of established aerial acquisition data programs weaken the state’s competitiveness against other states. Currently, most towns and cities in the state have their own individual GIS maps, but the overarching data is difficult to access; this legislation aims to change that significantly.

Additionally, the implementer offers new flexibility to boards of education, including a key change allowing boards of education to carry forward unexpended federal funds received for the purpose of covering costs from the COVID-19 pandemic into the coming fiscal year. It also, importantly, permits regional boards of education to deposit any unexpended funds from the prior fiscal year into a nonlapsing account, provided that amount doesn’t exceed 2% of the total budgeted appropriation for education in prior fiscal years. This will be a vital tool usable by several regional boards in Sen. Needleman’s district, shoring up financial resources and better ensuring they can retain funding in a rolling fashion.

Finally, Sen. Needleman said he supported the budget holding harmless municipalities which would have otherwise seen losses of funding through the Education Cost Sharing grant program, a shift that will ensure municipal and education budgets are not impacted to reflect financial needs in those locations.