In The People's Blog

The Joint Committee Ways and Means began a series of hearings on February 7 that would take members across Massachusetts to unpack the Governor’s proposal and to inform the legislature’s budget proposals. As Assistant Vice Chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, it’s an honor and an opportunity to attend each of these hearings and represent the interests of rural communities and western Massachusetts in these important conversations. 

The first hearing took place on February 7 in the Gardner Auditorium at the State House with testimony from Governor Healey and other state officials. 

To learn more about this first hearing, read our recap of the discussion here

Hearing testimony from the Governor and the Secretary of Administration and Finance at the first budget hearing at the State House.

The second hearing was on February 27 in Dighton and focused on transportation, energy, environment, and agriculture.

I engaged Administration officials (pictured below) on rural roads, rail, and RTAs, as well as on discussions of green energy delays, carbon sequestration, and the price of decarbonization.

I have heard from many constituents who are waiting for the Single Parcel Rule changes and the solar net metering changes I championed and passed in the 2022 climate law to be implemented. During the hearing I asked how we are going to meet our climate goals if it takes years to implement climate legislation.

I also asked how we are going to pay for the needed upgrades to our electricity grid while also protecting ratepayers. 

Click here to listen to my questions and the response from the EEA Secretary and her team.  

On March 1, I partnered with Representative Andy Vargas to host the third hearing in our district, at Greenfield Community College (GCC). This hearing focused on education and local aid. 

You can see a video of the hearing here. Shout out to GCC for showing ‘em how it’s done when it comes to flawlessly hosting a hybrid hearing with dozens of panelists and guests cycling in and out over six hours. 

I was proud that legislators heard from GCC’s President, Michelle Schutt; Northampton Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Portia Bonner; Athol Town Manager, Shaun Suhoski; Community Action Pioneer Valley Executive Director, Clare Higgins; and Amherst resident and Massachusetts Teachers Association President, Max Page. 

State House News did a recap of the hearing, which focused a great deal on state aid for K-12 schools — especially rural districts and districts with stagnant or declining enrollments like those in our region.

The fourth hearing was held on March 8 in Gloucester City Hall, where we engaged on economic development, labor, and housing funding. 

The fifth hearing was held in two parts, as we covered health and human services line items in the FY25 budget proposal. The first part was held on March 11 at Northeastern University’s Innovation Campus in Burlington. 

During the hearing, I asked Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kate Walsh a question about the PCA Program to understand why, in the Governor’s FY25 budget, there are proposed cuts to these services. To hear the Secretary’s response, click here.

I was prompted by strong constituent outreach to ask the Secretary about this proposed cut and understand what other services they envision would replace any lapses in care. I have since followed up with HHS and am now engaged in an ongoing discussion with the Department on this PCA Program.

I also asked Public Health Commissioner Dr. Robbie Goldstein about “what comes next” for public health in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. To hear the Commissioner’s response on the importance of investing in local public health, click here

The second part was held at Springfield Technical Community College on March 12, where we dove into other key funding priorities for health and human services for FY25. 

The sixth hearing, covering public safety and the judiciary, was held at Worcester State University on March 19. 

Finally, the seventh hearing was on March 26 at the State House. This was the only hearing that was open to the public for comments. Many individuals and groups from across the Commonwealth came and testified before the Committee on what they think should be included in the FY25 budget. 

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