2014 Platform

Jobs and Economy

Massachusetts’ recovery from the Great Recession has been aided by its position as a leader in healthcare, life sciences and technology. However, we live in a rapidly changing economy and will continue to have intense competition both within the United States and globally.

We must be committed to enhancing our economic competitiveness to support emerging industries and attract and keep good businesses and high quality jobs. I support regulatory changes and innovative programs that will create an atmosphere where entrepreneurship and job creation can thrive.

I believe a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work is both a moral obligation and good for our economy. While worker productivity has undergone sizable increases for many years, our minimum wage has not kept pace with inflation. Massachusetts’ minimum wage is the lowest it has ever been (in terms of real dollars adjusted for inflation) and no longer covers basic life necessities for workers and their families. This is not only an issue of fairness. It is good economics. Minimum wage earners help stimulate local business when they spend their wages in the community.

With regard to creating quality jobs, I support:

  • Raising the minimum wage to a minimum of $11.00 an hour. This raise will improve the quality of life for thousands of Massachusetts families. For example, single mothers who earn the new minimum wage and their children will no longer live in poverty.
  • Linking future increases in the minimum wage to the rising cost of living
  • Raising the minimum wage for tipped workers
  • Paid sick time
  • Focusing on workforce development with more coordination between the skill needs of the business community and the curriculum of vocational-tech schools, community colleges, and our state universities

When Tea Party Republicans in Congress refused to extend federal unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed, more than 68,000 Massachusetts residents lost a vital economic lifeline on December 28, 2013. Cutting unemployment insurance benefits even further or making it harder to get benefits is too high a price for state legislation boosting the minimum wage. Raising the minimum wage is vital for Massachusetts workers but it should not be done at the expense of the unemployed.

Protecting our Environment

We have a responsibility to leave future generations with a safe, healthy environment and to preserve natural resources for their enjoyment. Sound stewardship of our environment reaps benefits for today and the future: in public health, increased jobs, strengthening the economy, energy independence and maintaining quality of life. Massachusetts has been an innovative leader but there is more to be done. I support:

  • Sustainable energy technology
  • Phasing out coal-generated electricity
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
  • Making significant energy efficiency updates in homes and businesses

Expanded Bottle Bill

The Bottle Bill deposit law was enacted in 1983 and has been a successful recycling and litter prevention program. More than 35 billion bottles and cans have been redeemed, contributing to a healthier environment, cleaner and safer communities and a stronger economy. Currently, the bottle bill only covers carbonated beverages. I support an expanded Bottle Bill that includes juice, water and sport drink containers.

Community Preservation Act (CPA)

The CPA, which was passed in 2000, has been successful in helping cities and towns fund open space preservation, protect historic sites and create affordable housing. I support maintaining and expanding funding for this vital program.

Safer Alternatives Bill

A variety of toxic chemicals are used in Massachusetts businesses every day. Many of these chemicals present a hazard to workers and residents. The Safer Alternatives Bill, currently before the Senate Ways and Means Committee, requires businesses to use a safer alternative if it is available, economically feasible and currently used by competitors. I support this bill, which would set the standard as economically feasible.

Strengthening Public Education

All children deserve access to a high quality education so they can become well-rounded, thoughtful, and productive citizens. This begins with ensuring early education for every child who can benefit. I will work hard to end the long wait lines for pre-kindergarten so every child who is ready can begin school. Ultimately, a high quality public education will furnish students with the knowledge and skills they need to build a brighter future for themselves, their families, and our communities.

Teachers

Teachers are the heart of our education system. We need to ensure we are attracting and retaining the best and brightest to teach our children. We also need to make sure that every teacher has the resources he or she needs to succeed.

State Funding for Special Education Programs

Fully funding and supporting special education programs is critical. However, the state should provide the bulk of the funding instead of cities and towns. Local public schools are laboring under a state law that requires us to pay as much as 400% of the average per student expense plus 25% of necessary costs above that amount for each and every student requiring a special educational program.

As your State Representative, I will work to lower the costs to our towns and cities of providing first rate individual educational programs for all of the children who require special education. The current formula should be changed so the Commonwealth absorbs substantially more of the cost. Cities and towns would benefit from reducing the average student expense from 400% to 200% and reducing the 25% necessary costs above that amount to 20%. In addition, I will support increases in Chapter 70 and other state funding for our public schools.

Improve and Expand STEM Classes

In addition to ensuring high-quality education in the social sciences and humanities, our schools must improve and expand Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) classes and better align the training at vocational schools, technical schools, and community colleges with the needs of the business community.

More closely aligning education with industry needs has numerous benefits:

  • The likelihood of unemployment for our students decreases
  • Students will have the skills and education businesses are looking for
  • Students will better enrich our communities
  • A well-educated workforce is a strong incentive for attracting new business to Massachusetts, fostering entrepreneurship and the growth of existing businesses

Increased Access to Public Higher Education

Three quarters of our University of Massachusetts graduates remain in the Commonwealth while half of our private university and college graduates remain in the state after graduation. We know that, on average, college/university educated residents command higher paying jobs than their less educated peers, contribute more in taxes, and require fewer government benefits. As your State Representative, I will work to lower the cost of public higher education so that no student in the Commonwealth finds the path to a better future blocked by the high cost of college tuition and fees.

Massachusetts is behind other states in supporting public higher education. Investing in public higher education is a winning strategy for every taxpayer in the Commonwealth. Student tuitions have historically been paid into the Commonwealth’s General Fund with our public universities and colleges reaping nothing in return. To help pay for expenses the University of Massachusetts and our community colleges charge students high fees. Between the high fees (which stay with the school for its use) and tuition (disappearing into the General Fund) many of our friends, neighbors, and family members are not able to afford a higher education. As your State Representative, I will work to lower the combination of tuition and fees for all residents of the Commonwealth. Every qualified student should be able to attend the University of Massachusetts or a community college without staggering student loan debt.

Quality Affordable Healthcare

Massachusetts, a pioneer in making healthcare a right, leads the nation in health insurance coverage. Massachusetts has long been a leader in providing high-quality health coverage with highly trained professionals, world-class hospitals and companies on the cutting edge of medical innovation. Still, real challenges remain in our healthcare system.

Massachusetts’ healthcare comes at a high cost. It is among the most expensive in the United States. Our costs for healthcare are presently more than twice what we spend on education. With three insurance providers controlling 70% of the market, a public option would infuse competition and help control costs. I support the pending bill, “An Act Establishing a Public Health Insurance Option” (S514), which would allow consumers to buy into a public insurance plan and offer real competition.

The long-term solution is to move towards a single-payer, “Medicare for All” system, which would simplify the current system and contain costs. A single-payer insurance system in Massachusetts is also an economic issue. Uncoupling health insurance from employers allows business and manufacturing to better compete in the global economy with companies from other countries that are not burdened with the same health insurance overhead. It can also unleash entrepreneurship spurred by American innovation and creativity that is no longer restrained by the fear of losing health insurance.

Open and Accountable Government

Strong democracies flourish when a government is open, transparent, and accountable to its people and their values. To help ensure government action is based on shared values, full participation of the people is essential. In order to encourage full public participation in the Massachusetts government, I support:

  • Removing barriers to voter participation
  • Same-day voter registration
  • No excuse absentee voting
  • Reducing the influence of special interest money

I am committed to providing my constituents and neighbors with a responsive office on Beacon Hill and in the district. As your State Representative, no issue will be more important than your issue.

Supporting Civil Rights

In Massachusetts we have a proud history of standing up for each other’s rights. Our state Constitution and Declaration of Rights afford us greater rights than citizens of most or all of the other 49 states. We welcome diversity of race, religion, country of origin, gender, sexual preference, gender identity, age, and disability while recognizing that equal opportunity produces the best results for all of us. I promise to continue this tradition by supporting:

  • A woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices
  • Equal pay for equal work
  • Equal rights for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) community
  • The rights of individuals with disabilities

Stopping Domestic Violence

While Chapter 209A provides protection through restraining orders for men and women who have been or are threatened by domestic violence, we need to do more. As your State Representative I will work with educators, health professionals, and fellow legislators to develop programs for our high school students to better protect them from dating violence outside the home and domestic violence.

Increasing Affordable Housing

High housing costs in Massachusetts create a burden for working families and drain billions of dollars from the rest of our economy. The demand for affordable housing has been outpacing its availability, which means individuals and families may wait five years and, in emergency circumstances, as much as two years for affordable housing.

Access to affordable housing strengthens our communities and economy, encourages young people to stay in Massachusetts, and diminishes homelessness. Massachusetts General Law Chapter 40B remains the most powerful tool for increasing affordable housing stock.

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