I’m happy to share my ideas and positions with you. More importantly, I hope this campaign and my service on Beacon Hill will be about listening and ideas also. We won’t always agree, but every person in First Barnstable should feel they can share their thoughts on the challenges we face.
I unequivocally support the Fight for $15, Paid Family Medical Leave, Single Payer Health Insurance and the Fair Share Tax. While the Legislature has approved compromise legislation on some of these, it hasn’t been determined whether the $15 minimum wage will continue on to the ballot, due to differences between that language and the legislation. In addition, while the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has struck down the Fair Share Tax petition, I strongly believe and will fight for a change in the state tax system from a regressive flat tax, to a progressive tax. The idea that if you make over $20,000 a week that your taxes should be higher is consistent with how federal income tax is done. We can no longer afford to re-build our infrastructure and meet educational needs without more revenue.
I support the zoning reforms around Smart Growth being discussed on Beacon Hill, with bipartisan support in the Legislature and Governor's Office. We simply cannot build our way out of this problem; local governments need a reliable state partner. In addition, I would advocate for additional local aid to towns that meet a minimum threshold in creating affordable housing options. Finally, I will propose an increase in the state tax deduction for any household where their annual rent is greater than 30% of the household income.
I would like to examine some specific ways at the state level, to support our wastewater management issue. I agree with the Cape Cod Commission that a multi-faceted approach is needed. One significant piece of that is residential septic systems. The current allowable tax deduction from the state is inadequate and only can be used if your septic fails. I think that needs to be expanded to cover more, both in terms of amount and upgrades. The state should also take a leadership in role in better educating consumers as to non-toxic means of treating their landscape. We should be taking a lead in banning substances like glyphosate. To go further, I support a bill like the one Senator Cyr filed, that allows towns to push back against Eversource and their use of toxic herbicides on right of way areas in our towns. Finally, we must be leaders in addressing climate change through use of alternative energy sources and having disincentives to carbon use. Cape Cod also needs better regional transit, to reduce autos on the road. We must look at bridge access, public transit and better transportation hubs to get people around. Let's also look at a carbon tax that has been shown as a cost effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And let's get the entire state onboard with banning one time use plastic bags.
Recent years has seen some inconsistent budgeting to address this from the Baker Administration. Funds for substance counseling was cut for all high schools on the Cape. The state needs to be a more reliable partner in providing support at all levels – more beds, longer treatment options, support for family caregivers, better training for our health care professionals and the recognition that addiction is a lifelong challenge to overcome. We must remove the stigma and show the compassion that reflects the best of us. I am supportive of efforts to hold the manufacturers of opioids responsibility for any irresponsibility in pushing and promoting these dangerous substances, even as the crisis worsened.
Having served on the Brewster School Committee, and my daughters having attended public schools, charter schools and Cape Cod Tech, I have a broad perspective on this. To start, I won’t promise the Chapter 70 funding formula, which we know works to our detriment, will be changed. I am supportive of the efforts to reform the foundation funding formula. But even with the existing formula, we can’t be funding schools with increases less than costs are rising and think we are doing our jobs. What also needs to happen is to make sure that there are not unfunded mandates that the schools are hurt by – whether it is funding transportation, circuit breaker reimbursement or reimbursement that public schools get when a student leaves for a charter school. Those budget pressures should be avoidable. I was against Question 2, the expansion of charters initiative, in 2016. There are some excellent charters, especially Lighthouse and Sturgis. But there are some reforms that need to occur with charters. I would particularly point out that part of the original idea of charters and education reform was that charters and public schools would meet regularly to look at new ideas and best practices evolving. That cooperative initiative has simply not happened. Finally, I would add that I am critical of standardized testing. Teaching to a test is not learning, especially with the skills needed in 2018. Finally, I will support efforts to make pre-K universal in Massachusetts. Education is the great equalizer for all.
We must have an advocate on Beacon Hill who will look at every avenue available to stimulate job creation, over a broader spectrum than our traditional economy. And an advocate who will fight to protect our established industries, such as tourism and the fishing industry. For example, I support the initiative proposed by Representative Hunt, which would allow us to look at expanding OpenCape internet. It is a waste to have this infrastructure and not be able to use it to provide high speed, affordable internet access to homes, businesses and especially potential business that rely on this technology. There are other ways to bring state resources to help Cape businesses grow. I want to see programs like the Mass Food Trust is well-funded, able to provide grants to groups such as the Cape Cod Culinary Incubator in developing a community kitchen for entrepreneurs, something which has worked effectively in other areas. We know partnerships and leveraging state support works, as we have seen in aquaculture in Dennis. Insuring our state budget provides the funding in areas critical to the Cape, will be a priority.
It is vital that First Barnstable has a representative who will stand as part of the coalition that guarantees there should be no restriction on access to any kind of healthcare and push harder for pay equity. To go even further, state government needs to make sure, at all levels, women have a strong voice at the table. I recently attended a forum on local retail, with a group put together by Beacon Hill to travel the state and listen to the concerns of local business. That group was woefully underrepresented by women. That’s unacceptable and we need to call those things out. The recent actions by the Trump Administration to impose a gag order on health care providers is wrong and flies in the face of medical ethics. I'll support any action taken by the Legislature or Attorney General to stop that from happening here.
As the state that first allowed gay marriage, and as the state that continues to take steps to recognize and protect the equal rights of our LGBT+ community, First Barnstable should go on record as being a place that is open and inclusive. I also oppose Governor Baker in allowing any cooperation with Trump’s ICE. I support the communities in First Barnstable that are supporting the concept of sanctuary cities. We are better than tearing families apart. We are better than creating fear in our communities, that inhibit people from reporting and assisting our local police with legitimate concerns, for fear of what might happen to them. As your State Representative, I will fight to insure that no person in First Barnstable or in Massachusetts is subject to any form of inequality or injustice, based on race, gender, sexual orientation, age or ethnicity, be it by individuals or systemic biases.
It us unacceptable that about 10% if the population in our district is food insecure. Aside from the moral issue, it is a health issue and an education issue. Hungry students simply don’t learn as well. Adequate funding for the Massachusetts Emergency Food Assistance Program, the Healthy Initiatives Program and expansion of free school breakfasts are important priorities of mine. I will be an a strong and effective advocate of policies to bolster local agriculture and aquaculture. We should review Massachusetts General Laws regarding the ability of markets and restaurants to safely donate product to organizations that can re-purpose it to feed our community and reduces the enormous amount of food produced that is just thrown away.
Massachusetts has some of the strongest laws in the country and I support the efforts of Maura Healey in insuring that our state stays at the low end of states with incidents involving firearms. I support the current legislation on the extreme risk protective order, to provide additional insurance that those people determined to be the biggest potential risks, cannot act out in ways that may harm them or themselves. Strong background checks help guarantee that responsible, law-abiding citizens who choose to own a firearm(s), can do so.
With access to some of the best schools and minds in the country, we should be able to offer best in class security of state data. In addition, Massachusetts should not contract with any internet provider who does not adhere to a policy of net neutrality. I believe we should review all applicable Massachusetts General Laws to insure that within the state, and any company that does business with people in this state (Facebook being an obvious example) provides clear insurance to protect your privacy, or face penalties for not doing so. Finally, I think it would be a boost to the Cape economically and to give consumers better choice, by having the state partner to expand OpenCape internet access in our communities
A significant reason why people are skeptical about government, is because getting information is a challenge. I agree and would be wholly committed to changing that on the state level. First, it should be easy to find the voting record of every member of the House and Senate on the state website. Second, the budget process is often a hard to follow process, with annual budgets filed by the Governor, the House and the Senate, followed by negotiations, followed by a vote, followed by possible vetoes, followed by votes to override or sustain vetoes. Got all that? I pledge to hold open meetings in the district to review the budget and specific items of most relevance to First Barnstable. When you have information, you are in a better position to support or oppose specific items. That information will also be on my website. Finally, my office and I will be focused on constituent service to insure that you have an ally in making all aspects of state government work to make lives better. Second, we must do all we can in Massachusetts to keep dark money out of our politics and let you know easily who and where money is coming from in support or against candidates or ballot initiatives. It seems common sense, but the reality is far behind that.