Legislature overrides veto; NQCC waiting for money

  • The North Quabbin Community Coalition in Athol. Recorder Staff/Domenic Poli

  • The North Quabbin Community Coalition in Athol is at risk of losing state funding following a veto by Gov. Charlie Baker. Recorder Staff/Domenic Poli

Recorder Staff
Sunday, November 19, 2017

ORANGE — The Legislature has overridden Gov. Charlie Baker’s veto of core funding to benefit the North Quabbin Community Coalition, but the money has yet to be dispensed to the private nonprofit.

“It’s now waiting to go to (the Department of Public Health) to be released as a contract, but Gov. Baker is holding some contracts right now, pending an influx of revenue,” said NQCC Executive Director Heather Bialecki-Canning, who shared news of the delayed state money at the nonprofit organization’s legislative forum at the Athol-Orange Elks Club in Orange on Friday morning.

State Sen. Anne Gobi, D-Spencer, attended the forum and expressed similar frustration. Bialecki-Canning said Gobi and state Reps. Susannah Whipps, I-Athol, and Paul Mark, D-Peru, voted to override the governor’s veto. Baker had slashed language, within line item 4590-0250, pertaining to model coalitions.

Bialecki-Canning said the funding typically consists of $100,000, split evenly between her organization and the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition. She said each of her organization’s three staff positions are partially financed by its share of this money, which also funds the organization’s newsletter and the maintenance of its website.

An email to the governor’s office requesting comment was not returned by press time.

NQCC is a 501(c)(3) organization that supports nine towns.

The executive director appealed to the public in September to contact state Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez, D-Jamaica Plain, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, to encourage an override vote to be held as soon as possible and to pressure their local legislators into voting for in favor of it.

“I am very pleased by the advocacy from all of our members and, absolutely, the advocacy of among our delegation. Our legislators stepped up and said … ‘We’re overriding the veto,’” Bialecki-Canning said. “The issue right now is it sits with the governor.

“The coalition won’t go away, but (this) will absolutely impact what we can do in our community, and our capacity to be responsive,” she continued. “And that’s the saddest thing.”

Whipps previously said this funding was an amendment to the FY18 Budget for the Massachusetts Community Coalitions she co-sponsored with state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, D-North Adams, who died in June at age 63.

All donations to NQCC are tax-deductible. Information on how to donate is available at bit.ly/2fGLXy9. NQCC’s fiscal agent is Heywood Healthcare. NQCC can be reached at 978-249-3703.