We recently passed the Fiscal Year 2022 budget in the House of Representatives. After several long days of debate, an additional $300,000 was secured for important local programs on the Cape and Islands that support education, health access, and the environment in our district.
This includes $100,000 for the Falmouth Education Foundation. It has been such a tough year for teachers and school children, who have been trying to improve learning while navigating pandemic protocols and digital access, and this funding will help our educators close learning gaps. We negotiated an additional $50,000 for Martha’s Vineyard Community Services to help fund translation services that break down barriers to accessing care for the island’s immigrant population. Finally, it’s not a budget without supporting shellfish across the Cape and Islands, and we earmarked $150,000 for propagation.
In a year plagued by disruption, we produced a strong budget, including $5.5 Billion for the Student Opportunity Act, over $43 million for food assistance, and a first ever $10 million investment in training local residents to work in the offshore wind industry. We’re not done; once the guidelines for federal funding are released from Washington, more funding will go to those most impacted by COVID-19.
On top of funding for the Cape & Islands, the FY22 budget includes a wide array of investments to support education, services for vulnerable populations, and workforce and economic development.
Getting shots in arms
While the Cape has been on a role with vaccine distribution, in early April, island residents faced daunting financial and geographic barriers to accessing vaccines from the federal pharmacy program and state mass vaccination sites. As the federal government shifted vaccine supply to pharmacies, we worked to ensure that the state provide equitable distribution to the islands which do not have a CVS or Walgreens.
Julian Cyr and I sent a letter to the Command Center urging increased supply in light of these barriers and the changing federal rollout. The Administration has stepped up supplying more shots to Nantucket and, through the work of Island Health Care, the Vineyard has seen a huge influx of vaccines from the HERSA program.
Reviving our tourism industry
This pandemic hit our arts and service industry hard. As Vice Chair of the Committee on Tourism, Arts, and Culture, we’ve been holding hearings to listen to concerns and proposals to get the industry back. Thanks to the leadership of Chair Fiola and House Ways and Means Chair Michlewitz, we funded the Mass Cultural Council at $22 million — the highest amount in a decade — and added a new $5 million fund to help revive tourism.
In the news
- Rep. Fernandes Secures $100k For Falmouth Education Foundation — Falmouth Enterprise
- Surge in Cape Cod real estate prices makes homes out of reach for many locals — Boston 25 News
- Massachusetts Homes in on Facial Recognition Accountability — Government Technology
- Bill in the state house seeks to improve airport infrastructure — The Inquirer and Mirror
- Vineyarders testify for Fernandes’ forest bill — Martha’s Vineyard Times
- New bill seeks to help small businesses collect on insurance claims due to COVID orders — Cape Cod Times
- COVID Task Force Praises Increase in Vaccination Rates — CapeCod.com
- The National Guard wants to clear 170 acres of woods on Cape Cod for a new machine gun range — Boston Globe
- Cape Cod Lawmakers Host Virtual Hearing Ahead Of Tourism Season — WBZ News Radio
- Fernandes refiles private utility line bill — Martha’s Vineyard Times
- Nantucket’s Priciest Property Sales could support affordable housing — Cape Cod Times
- Pandemic Relief and Vote-By-Mail Bills Win Beacon Hill Support — CapeCod.com
- Fernandes files forest, wind bills — Martha’s Vineyard Times
- Massachusetts Proposed Bills Addressing Coverage for Small Businesses — JD Supra
- ‘Doughnut hole’ heads to state legislature — Martha’s Vineyard Times
Supporting our workers & businesses
Our workers & businesses have struggled over the past year, and it’s important that the legislature take steps to help them recover. This March, I voted for H.90, a bill that will provide more relief & help protect our frontline workers while freezing unemployment rates to prevent them from bankrupting small businesses.