As a State Representative, I have had many important legislative successes, and I have gained knowledge and developed expertise that has helped Brookline and the state. But there is still much work to be done, and I want the opportunity to continue to work for the people of Brookline and the Commonwealth.
That’s why I am running again to represent the citizens of the 15th Norfolk district. I know that my values and the issues I champion are very much attuned to our community. I hear from dozens of Brookline residents each month asking me to support or oppose certain bills or positions. I also hear from many people asking me to fight hard for many bills, often ones that I have sponsored.
As a Representative, I have had the honor of being a leader in addressing climate change. As the Chair of the Environment Committee from 2005 to 2009, I helped pass landmark legislation, including the Global Warming Solutions Act, the Green Communities Act, the Massachusetts Oceans Act and the Mercury Management Act.
Now, as the Chairman of the House Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change, my job continues to be challenging. Our Legislature appears to be backing away from clean energy strategies that have been the state law since 2008, such as supporting natural gas pipelines that will harm our efforts to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Also troubling is that recent efforts to expand solar energy, a popular and successful clean fuel that has helped grow numerous businesses in Massachusetts, appear to be stalled by the Legislature, even as an omnibus bill has raised the hopes of consumers and businesses. My work on this important issue is far from complete, and I look forward to continuing my strong advocacy on climate change issues during the next Legislative session.
Public transportation is another challenging issue, and one that is vitally essential to Brookline residents as well as those who come to Brookline to work or to enjoy our many wonderful stores, restaurants, and other services and attractions. But the failure of the state to invest adequate resources in our public transportation system has meant that many people cannot rely on this important public service. Fare hikes and cutting back on service are not the answers—they will result in more people using less sustainable modes of transportation. Rather, the Legislature should provide more support and resources to expand and improve public transportation, and I intend to be part of that effort.
Public education in Massachusetts today is facing serious threats, as our public schools, colleges and universities do not have sufficient funding to educate all of our students. I am committed to helping increase funding for our public schools, pre-K through graduate school. In addition, we need to expand early education, protect METCO, limit testing and repeal high-stakes testing, reduce student debt, and prevent further privatization of our public schools by keeping the cap on charter schools. That’s why I have sponsored bills or budget amendments to address each of these issues, and why I oppose the charter ballot question, which would hand over our public schools and our public dollars to unaccountable private institutions.
Charter schools already cost Massachusetts public schools $408 million annually and this ballot question would cost our public schools nearly $1 billion within five years. Over time, the ballot question has the potential to turn most of our public schools—across the state—into privately-run entities, funded primarily by local tax dollars and with no local accountability. Brookline would not be immune to the expansion of charter schools. Charters would be authorized by the state and neither local officials nor the local community would have any meaningful role in the approval or oversight process.
Despite a strong commitment to affordable housing over the years, including public and subsidized housing, Brookline is increasingly unaffordable, particularly for lower-income families. I believe we must develop strategies to provide additional resources and other supports to increase Brookline’s affordable housing, while ensuring protections of our existing affordable housing.
But, we also have a responsibility beyond Brookline to help increase the amount of affordable housing in Boston and across the Commonwealth, as well as to provide protections and assistance, particularly for seniors and low-come residents, to find and maintain their homes. That’s why I sponsored a bill that would help protect tenants in subsidized housing from losing their subsidies by putting more restrictions on converting subsidized housing into private, market-rate housing.
I am committed to helping the Town of Brookline and its residents address climate change, transportation, education, and housing, as well as many other important concerns. With my knowledge and experience, I want to continue to make a difference, to continue to help improve the lives of my constituents and the quality of life across the Commonwealth. I ask for your vote and your support.