It's Not Just Trump: ICE, Deportation, Xenophobia in MA

Click thru for a review of the historic SJC Lunn decision, Gov. Baker's proposal to overturn it, Safe Communities Act and the foot dragging of Massachusetts Democrats. 

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Do MA Dems Stand for Women’s Rights in the Workplace Or Not?

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The 190th legislative session has been off to a slow start on Beacon Hill. Beyond the pay raise, and the budget process, the Legislature has not been doing much in the way of, well, legislating.

One small bit of progress was the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which passed the House unanimously last month. The bill requires employers to provide “reasonable accommodation” for pregnant women and nursing mothers (such as more frequent breaks, less strenuous duties, and the ability to sit down on the job) provided that they don’t cause “significant difficulty or expense.”

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Budget 2017: What Does Beacon Hill Value?

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CUT TO THE CHASE: Take me to the SAMPLE SCRIPT! 

INTRO--How did we get here?

ACTION--Call your Reps: Sample Script

AMENDMENTS--

--Revenue

--Affordable Housing

--Education and Youth

--Legal Assistance; Jobs Not Jails

--Environmental Protection

--Public Health


Cutting Past the Bone: How did we get here?

A budget is a statement of values. And the recently released House Ways & Means Budget shows that too many on Beacon Hill are content with the status quo of austerity and underinvestment.

Massachusetts lawmakers have fallen prey to the pernicious conservative ideology that taxes--our collective investment in our values and priorities--are always politically toxic. Instead of substantive conversations about how we invest in the infrastructure, services, and institutions that make Massachusetts a great place to live and work, our legislators instead year after year refuse to raise revenue -- and leave the people of the Commonwealth begging for revenue crumbs of an ever smaller pie.

Yet, every legislator on Beacon Hill knows that Massachusetts has a revenue problem: when we do not take in enough revenue, we must cut budgets. Because of ill-conceived tax cuts over a decade ago (to the benefit of the wealthiest in MA), Revenue projections continue to fall short, leading to damaging cuts to vital services.

Those tax cuts have cost all of us over $3 billion each year. Each year! Our schools, the MBTA, roads, human services--think of what $3 billion a year could be doing to invest in job growth, education, public health, housing, transportation, and environmental protection.

Next week, when the House begins to vote on the budget, representatives will have the opportunity to take necessary steps to turn this around and to commit to the investments we need to make a Massachusetts that works for all.

Particularly, in the Age of Trump, where hostility to progressive values and policies is pervasive at the federal level, it’s more important than ever to make clear that the status quo is not working. Massachusetts needs to step up its game.

And to get legislators to start stepping up, we’re going to need YOUR help.

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Call/email your representative by Monday morning to urge them to support the following ten budget amendments. The sample script is below; more info on each amendment appears after.

SAMPLE SCRIPT

I’m ___ from ___ . I’m calling to urge Rep __ to support budget amendments that support a strong Commonwealth. While these amendments would make a difference in the short term, I also want to urge my rep to fight for MORE REVENUE in the long term, including taxes on the wealthiest in Massachusetts.

Please support:

  • Amendments 42 and 43, which increase badly needed revenue
  • Amendments 780 and 382, which support housing assistance
  • Amendments 1003 and 1172, which invest in children and youth
  • Amendments 822 and 1182, which invest in equitable justice
  • Amendment 1196, which helps protect our environment
  • Amendment 151, which supports women’s health and family planning

Please share my concerns with the Rep. I will be paying attention to how s/he votes on these issues. Thank you.

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Budget Amendments

Revenue

Amendment #42 (Rep. Denise Provost): Income Tax Rate Freeze.

This amendment would freeze the personal income tax rate at 2016 levels. From 2012 to 2016, we had four automatic income tax rate cuts, resulting in almost a billion dollar reduction in state revenue. These income tax reductions disproportionately benefit the super-rich, rather than working- and middle-class families: indeed, 20% of the rate reduction tax cuts go to the top 0.05% of Massachusetts residents.

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Amendment #43 (Rep. Denise Provost): Educational Opportunity for All.

This amendment would subject any private institution of higher learning that has an endowment fund with aggregate funds in excess of $1 billion to an annual excise of 2.5% of all monies in aggregate in said endowment fund. The fund will be used exclusively for subsidizing the cost of higher education, early education, and child care for lower-income and middle-class residents of the commonwealth.

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Affordable Housing

Amendment #780 (Rep. Paul Donato): MRVP funding

This amendment would restore funding for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program to $120 million from $100 million. This will increase the number of vouchers available, help preserve affordable housing developments, and restore the program to its 1990 funding level.

Amendment #382 (Rep. Mike Connolly): MRVP Improvements

This amendment makes technical changes to the way Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program funds are allocated, making the program more useful to people from a range of incomes in today's very expensive housing market.

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Education & Youth

Amendment #1003 (Rep. Alice Peisch): Early Educators Rate Increase

This amendment would increase the funding for the Early Education Rate Reserve, which increase reimbursement rates for subsidized early education and care providers, to $20 million from $15 million.

Amendment #1172 (Rep. Paul Brodeur): Youthworks

This amendment would increase the funding for the Youthworks program, which provides skills and training to young people through state-funded employment, to $13.5 million.

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Legal Assistance & Jobs Not Jails

Amendment #822 (Rep. Ruth Balser): Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation

This amendment would increase funding for the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, which ensures that low-income residents of Massachusetts have access to legal information, advice, and representation, to $21 million.

Amendment #1182 (Rep. Mary Keefe): Job Training For Ex-Prisoners and Court Involved Youth

This amendment would increase funding for crucial programs to combat recidivism and create opportunities from $250,000 to $2 million.

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Environmental Protection

Amendment #1196 (Rep. David Rogers): Department of Environmental Protection Administration and Compliance

This amendment would increase the operations budget for DEP from $24.4 million to $30 million. Recent budget cuts have forced staff reductions of 30% at DEP, crippling its ability to protect our to ensure clean air and water and enforce environmental laws. Given looming cuts to the EPA on the national level, we cannot afford such cuts anymore.

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Public Health

Amendment #151 (Rep. Carole Fiola): Family Planning

This amendment would fund the family planning services line item at $5.8 million. Family planning funding helps providers offer a wide range of affordable preventative series, including critical screenings for breast, cervical, and other cancers; birth control and STI testing; and treatment for both men and women. With such vital services under the attack on the national level, it’s vital that Massachusetts push forward.

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