Beacon Hill, How About a Raise for Massachusetts Workers, Too?

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A new legislative session in the Legislature typically kicks off with a string of votes setting the rules for the following two years.

But this year, before taking up the rules (or even finalizing offices and committee assignments), the House and Senate voted to raise the salaries and stipends for ranking legislative officers (such as Senate President Stan Rosenberg and House Speaker Robert DeLeo, among others), state constitutional officers (Governor Charlie Baker, AG Maura Healey, etc.), and judges.

And then the Thursday before last, both chambers easily overrode Governor Baker's veto, with dissent coming from Republicans, a handful of conservative Democrats, and a trio of progressive Democrats (Jon Hecht of Watertown, Denise Provost of Somerville, and Mike Connolly of Cambridge).

Let's be clear: paying public servants well is important to good governance.

If such offices are not well-compensated, then only those who are already well-off will be interested in running or serving.

And sufficient compensation can also reduce the need for legislators to have jobs on the side, a Pandora’s box of ethics conflicts.

Nonetheless, given the details and the context of the pay raise, it should be no surprise that it has rubbed many progressive voters the wrong way.

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Hundreds Strong for Progressive Pioneer Valley

Unstoppable! That’s what we are.

230 of us crammed into the library community room on Monday night, representing critical movements up and down the Valley. The energy was amazing, and we accomplished three big things:

1- In 17 breakouts, we dove deep into climate justice; LGBTQ rights, race and anti-hate; economic justice and the foreclosure crisis; immigration, and voting rights and democratic engagement.

2- We clarified how Progressive Massachusetts’s concrete legislative and electoral resources can augment the region’s heroic grassroots movements.

3- We triumphantly announced the first Progressive Mass chapter in western Mass: Progressive Pioneer Valley!

 

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Scorecards are out: measuring progress (189th Session)

Scorecards from 189th Legislative Session, House and Senate are finalized. Compare legislators’ last session records with your values and the district’s. See where there’s room for improvement or need for a thank you! 

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Engaged democracy doesn’t end at the doorknock!

To win on our big issues--such as single-payer health care, a living wage, a stable climate, a robust public infrastructure, a healthy democracy, among many others--we know we must elect politicians who align with our values.

To get progressive champions elected, we’ve learned the mechanics of grassroots campaigning -- to knock on doors, host house parties, make phone calls, enter data from sign in sheets, cut lists, recruit volunteers, GOTV.

It feels like victory when our progressive candidates win -- but our work must not end there.

We also have to hold them accountable to the principles and goals we share.

And if they aren’t fighting for our progressive goals, we need to organize and mobilize again. As presidents like FDR and Obama have said, we need to make our elected officials do the things that are difficult.

Words and Actions

Legislators’ votes are an obvious means to assess how hard they are working for our big, urgent long-term goals. But “How did my State Legislator vote on these issues I care about?” is, in Massachusetts, not easy to find out. If we don’t know, how can we hold them accountable?

The new Trump administration is rolling back progressive achievements and pushing a reactionary, racist agenda at a breakneck pace. The moral urgency of our goals has never been more acute.

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Make Massachusetts a Progressive Fortress: Step 1 by Friday

Progressive Massachusetts proudly announces our 2017-2018 Legislative Agenda for the 190th session of the Mass General Court.

The Moral Urgency of Now: Massachusetts Must Lead.

We are watching the federal government under President Donald Trump, with little braking from the Republican Congress, move us rapidly in a fascist direction that deeply contradicts Massachusetts values and liberties. Resistance is imperative.

What are the ways we can resist? Where can we effect the most dramatic changes, shape a progressive alternative and protect the most people vulnerable under this regime?

Our efforts on the national scene are important--but our impact, as liberals served by Democrats in a majority Republican Congress, is unfortunately, realistically, quite limited.

But, we can make Massachusetts a blue, progressive fortress against Trumpism. There is no excuse for not passing a vigorous progressive agenda in one of the bluest states in the country.

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Worcester: Rally in Solidarity with Immigrants

Progressive Worcester endorses tonight's rally in support of the immigrant and refugee community. 

Please show up in solidarity and reject the toxic policies of Trumpism from creeping into Worcester. After the Rally, see it through, stay for the City Council meeting. City Council must hear from you. 

And remember,

We can take action as a state. But the Legislature must act.

The Legislature can pass the Safe Communities act, to establish 'sanctuary' in Massachusetts, and protect vulnerable communities under Trump's coming policies. Right now, Legislators are choosing which bills they will choose to highlight with their co-sponsorship.

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The Human Toll of Austerity, or What Got Left out of Baker's State of the State

During his State of the State speech last Tuesday, Governor Charlie Baker congratulated himself on his commitment to addressing the opioid epidemic. He also congratulated himself on curtailing public spending in order to reduce the deficit without raising taxes. These priorities, however, are in fundamental conflict.

In December, in an act largely buried by the news around the presidential transition, Governor Baker unilaterally cut $98 million from the state budget, taking the axe to a wide range of programs. Among the agencies hit was the state Bureau of Substance Abuse Assistance (BSAA), which faced cuts of nearly $2 million. This money is neither an abstraction nor a rounding error: this is money that would be used to hire treatment and prevention coordinators, as well as to fund various treatment and community programs that directly combat addiction in local communities.

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Jeff Sessions and Criminal Justice in Massachusetts

Do you know what North Korea and the United States have in common? They have similar per capita rates of incarceration, among the highest in the world. But lately some states have used an approach called justice reinvestment to dramatically cut the number of people in prison while continuing to lower crime rates, saving money in the process. In Massachusetts, a few bills are up for a vote this legislative session that take this approach to justice reform.

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JP Progressives: Progressivism during Trump

(Ed. Note: our Progressive Mass Legislative Priorities for 2017-18 is a multi-issue agenda that encompasses many of the MA bills raised at the forum. Print it and take it with you for any interaction with your MA State Legislators!)

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Re-post from our chapter, JPProgressives', site. Join our list and we'll connect you to chapters in your area! (or help you start one!) 

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Legislative Agenda for 2017-2018: Setting the Table for Bold Progressive Change

Tl;dr: We have released our progressive legislative agenda (progressivemass.com/legislativeagenda). There is a short, short window to take significant action. Before Feb. 2 (how about now?), send an email asking legislators to co-sponsor the Progressive Priority bills. For ACTION STEPS and SAMPLE EMAIL, go here: progressivemass.com/takeaction.


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Massachusetts is blessed with the third largest Democratic legislative majorities in the country. But majorities only matter if they are put to work.

In the Age of Trump, it’s more important than ever for Massachusetts legislators to start stepping up their game.

Over the weeks since the election, we’ve been hard at work talking with coalition partners, conversing with legislators, and hearing from our chapters and members about how we can best advance our Progressive Platform in the new legislative session.

We want Massachusetts to be the progressive beacon to other states that we know it can be.

Legislators often say that they can only take up a handful of issues in one 2-year session (with the biggest priorities often hashed out behind closed doors).

But given the crises we face now (and were facing already, frankly), it’s time to think big. And it’s past time to make grassroots priorities our electeds’ priorities.

And, so, at the end of all of those conversations and meetings--and a lot of research and reading--we have zeroed in on 17 Priorities for 2017. Click here to read about the bills and why they matter.

And, as a complement to our primary legislative agenda, we have identified an additional 20 Bills to Watch, which we will also follow this session.

LEGISLATORS ARE MAKING CHOICES RIGHT NOW

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After Marching, Another Step

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This past weekend gave a pretty clear visual of how much power we have when we organize together. And we all know that showing up to march was merely the first step of many.

The next is engaging with the political process -- via electoral, issue and legislative work -- as well as the work of community organizing-- building communities of trust, making outreach and strengthening our progressive infrastructure. We're committed to both. 

This week, we are releasing our 2017-18 Legislative Agenda, and we will be asking progressives to make some noise about how Massachusetts should become a leader again in bold progressive policy. 

The Opposite of Trump

We all want to DO something to stop the coming wave of Trump's -- and the traditional conservatives' -- cruel and incoherent policies on immigration, health care, women's bodies, education, and their accelerating privatization and corporate kleptocracy. 

While many emerging activist networks are urging outreach to Congress, we'd like to propose that, in Massachusetts, we'll get a lot more mileage fighting Trump -- and making real change, helping real people who are vulnerable -- BY focusing on Massachusetts:

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