Massachusetts Legislature Votes to Enact the Student Opportunity Act
The Student Opportunity Act fully implements the recommendations of the 2015 Foundation Budget Review Commission (FBRC) to support the “educational programs and services necessary to achieve the Commonwealth’s educational goals” as stated in the Commission’s mission. The bill provides an estimated $1.4 billion in new Chapter 70 aid over and above inflation when fully implemented over the next seven years. The bill modernizes the K-12 education funding and policy landscape in four areas:
- Estimates school districts’ employee and retiree health care costs using up to date health insurance trend data collected by the state’s Group Insurance Commission (GIC).
- Increases special education enrollment and cost assumptions to more accurately reflect district enrollment.
- Increases funding for English learners (EL) and differentiates funding by grade level to reflect the greater resources required to educate our older EL students.
- Addresses the needs of districts educating high concentrations of low-income students
Senate Passes Bill to Ban Child Marriage
An Act to end child marriage in Massachusetts prohibits a person from marrying an individual under the age of 18 years old. Minors who marry adults often lack the resources or means to protect themselves from abusive or coercive relationships. State records show that more 1,221 children — some as young as 14 — were married in Massachusetts between 2000 and 2016
Bold Climate Legislation
In order to hit our 2050 emissions goals, the MA Senate passed bold new climate legislation. Some highlights from our Next Generation Climate Policy include: increasing access to low cost solar for low income communities, setting a deadline to convert all MBTA buses to electric, expanding development of offshore wind, and allowing municipalities to adopt “net zero” stretch energy code.
Despite increased awareness and efforts to combat the opioid crisis, addiction continues to ravage communities across the state. In recent budgets I have been able to secure $50,000 in state funding to support the late Mayor Bill Carpenter’s Champion Plan, which has been a highly effective tool in helping those struggling with addiction in the city.
Central Plymouth County Water District Commission
I have been working closely with officials from the Central Plymouth County Water District Commission to advance their mission to ensure safe, clean, sustainable drinking water for the communities of Hanson, Brockton and Whitman. The commission works to restore and protect the water quality in the district’s many lakes and rivers- and ensures the health and sustainability of local ecosystems. It has been my priority to get annual state funding for this vital resource.
Through an Amendment to the FY 2021 Budget Senator Brady has successfully passed language allowing part-time students to serve on the board of trustees. This is a tremendous help for part-time students, particularly at community colleges, where the student bodies are more likely to be majority part time. Part-time college students are more likely to be from diverse backgrounds and their inclusion as voting parties on their student board of trustees are vital to ensuring a diversity of thoughts and interests are represented in our higher education institutions.
Unemployment Solvency and Emergency Sick Leave Legislation
On Thursday, March 18th, I joined with my colleagues in the Massachusetts Senate to pass a bill that would grant five days of emergency paid sick leave to every worker in the Commonwealth who is unable to safely return to work due to COVID-19. This legislation serves to protect frontline workers at greater risk of infection and ensures that everyone has the tools to self-quarantine without the threat of economic hardship. The bill also included significant advancements in the areas of governmental stability and relief for the unemployed and small businesses. Small business relief is advanced in the form of a delay of scheduled unemployment rate increases which were set to occur in 2021 and 2022 as well as exempting what would normally income received from forgiven PPP loans from Massachusetts corporate excise tax. Following the guidance of the recent federal American Rescue Plan Act, the bill also excludes up to $10,200 of income received from unemployment benefits from taxation for individuals making less than 200% of the federal poverty line.