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IF YOU LIVE IN:
The purpose of public education is not about test scores, or even positioning young people to compete economically. Public education is about helping our children grow intellectually and spiritually as human beings as well as citizens, and fostering a love of learning that will guide and support them throughout their lives. We should be encouraging our students to think critically, independently and creatively.
But today, we are seeing a structural defunding of our public schools in Massachusetts, as well as growing inequality. We must fix our broken "foundation budget" formula for public school districts, the unfair charter school funding mechanism and address cuts to regional transportation reimbursements for rural districts as well as inadequate special education funding.
It's time for a record reinvestment in public schools to address the immense disparities in resources and outcomes for low-income students and students of color, and for setting a goal of creating a debt-free path to higher education. In the near future, there will be opportunities for reform, but they will take leadership on the part of our representatives.
I oppose lifting the cap on charter schools in the Commonwealth and believe we need to stand up for the teachers who give so much of themselves to the students in our public schools.
Whatever issues are most important to you, from combating climate change to advancing civil rights, the success or failure of good policy depends on how well our political system works.
We need to get money out of politics and bring "clean elections" back to the Commonwealth. As long as our elections continue to be privately funded, special interests like the NRA and the gun lobby, the fossil fuel industry, and others, will have their thumbs on the scale of our democracy.
We should modernize our voter registration laws to make sure every person who is eligible to vote is ready to do so, and tear down all barriers to participation. In addition to campaign finance reform, we must pursue electoral reforms and not be afraid to explore alternate voting methods to help make our institutions better reflect all of us, especially people of color, women, and those without access to wealth and resources.
I also believe we should work to upgrade our state's ethics rules to prevent legislators from monetizing their public service by becoming lobbyists. If we succeed in improving our democracy, we can inspire more faith in government, and achieve better results that truly serve the public interest.
We cannot accept the rising levels of inequality that we see today, nor the myth that for business and innovation to thrive, workers must continue to struggle to meet their basic needs. When people are living paycheck-to-paycheck and unable to save money, achieving long-term improvements in their lives becomes harder and they find themselves more vulnerable to unforeseen events. Ultimately, the entire community suffers.
I support an increase to a $15 minimum wage, and indexing that wage to inflation so that subsequent cost of living increases do not require epic ballot measure campaigns or contentious legislative battles. I also support comprehensive paid family and medical leave, which benefits the public health, common good and everyone's economic stability.
Our next State Senator must champion economic development, agriculture, infrastructure and our region's creative economy. I will work as part of a team with others in our state delegation to ensure Western Mass has strong and effective representation on these matters on Beacon Hill.
We need tax laws that help working families, not big corporations or the wealthiest among us.
I support a progressive tax code and moving away over time from relying on property taxes to fund essential services. In this spirit, I was a strong supporter of the Fair Share Amendment ballot measure, which would have added a 4% surtax on incomes over a million dollars and generate about $2 billion a year for education and transportation. Even though the Supreme Judicial Court disapproved the ballot measure, as a state senator, I will pursue alternate ways to move this idea forward.
We can also make our tax code more progressive by raising the refundable state Earned Income Tax Credit to at least 30% of the federal credit, as other New England states have done, and expanding it to cover more people.
I believe we must also systematically scrutinize the costly tax breaks and giveaways to certain industries that are on the books, and ask ourselves if they are truly serving a genuinely useful public purpose. It makes no sense to cut the regional transportation, social services and local aid while the cost of industry-specific tax breaks in Massachusetts continues to grow year after year.
To some, a commitment to end poverty and hunger may sound naïve, but nothing less will do. We must bend all our of political will towards that moral goal.
Many communities have adopted programs to end homelessness for veterans, meaning that formal programs are established to guide every veteran who asks for help into good housing. This program needs to be encouraged and expanded.
I will also do all I can to promote equity of funding for the many social service programs that matter to our district and our region, from cot shelters and food pantries to the Healthy Incentives Program.
We must strive for total equality in our society, oppose discrimination in all forms, and create a culture in which no one is discouraged from seeking the profession she desires or living the life she wants to live.
I support every person's right to make their own reproductive health choices, and to have the access to birth control and safe, legal abortion that such a right demands. I support legislation allowing young women 16 years and older to choose abortion without requiring them to obtain parental consent, and I oppose so-called "Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers" (TRAP) laws, medically unnecessary restrictions designed to limit access to abortion.
In the State House, I will be a strong and consistent advocate for paid family leave and equal pay for equal work. I will advocate for increased funding for family planning and healthcare access, and for that funding to be provided on an equitable basis, including in rural areas.
Healthcare is an individual right, but that also means it is our collective responsibility -- one we fulfill together through government.
Massachusetts rejected the "everyone is on their own" philosophy we often hear from Republicans with our landmark healthcare reform law in 2006, and we have built on this law over the years.
But healthcare today needs dramatic reform. I am a supporter of a single-payer, Medicare-for-All style system, and legislation to do that will be among the first I will co-sponsor and fight for.
Climate change is an existential threat to our world, and we must act with urgency to protect the lives of this and future generations. I will champion green energy innovation and green jobs, push to end our reliance on greenhouse gas-producing sources of power and work towards ambitious goals to power Massachusetts with renewable energy.
We should oppose new pipelines in the Commonwealth, encourage offshore wind, and eliminate the cap on "net metering" to allow sustainable solar power to flourish. I support putting a price on carbon with a revenue-neutral carbon fee that is rebated to residents.
I will also fight to protect our natural environment by insisting the state reverse its disappointing track record in enforcement actions for clean air and clean water under Governor Baker.
Strong transportation infrastructure connects people to housing and jobs, invigorates our economy and enriches our communities. When we fail to make investments in public transportation, we contribute to worsening economic and social injustice on multiple fronts. Unfortunately our nation and our state are well behind most of the world in this regard.
We need leaders who will step up and fight for ideas like east-west high speed rail and expanding north-south service as well. In our region, I will stand up against further cuts to regional transportation, and do all I can to advocate for funds our cities and towns need for much needed road repairs.
State government must also assume a stronger role in helping communities meet their affordable housing needs, and shift political momentum towards reforms that reduce, not exacerbate economic and social inequality.
Massachusetts has less gun violence than many other states because we have stronger gun laws, but there is more to do. This is a perfect example of how our Commonwealth can lead where Congress has failed to take any meaningful action on today's ongoing epidemic of mass shootings. We have to continue to show that leadership.
I will follow the lead of Attorney General Maura Healey as she pushes for commonsense gun violence prevention laws like extreme risk protective orders, which would allow for guns to be taken out of the hands of dangerous or suicidal people. I also support universal background checks and divesting the Commonwealth's pension funds of all investments in gun manufactures and retailers.
As your State Senator, my work will be guided by the principles of inclusion and equality, and the legislative agenda we pursue as a Commonwealth must be shaped by the rights and needs of all its people, not just the privileged or the powerful.
I will be an ally of all efforts to protect all of our citizens from discrimination on any basis, including race, national origin, age, gender identity and sexual orientation.
As a City Councilor, I wrote a resolution against discrimination in matters of public accommodation on the basis of gender identity before the Legislature acted to extend those protections in 2016. I oppose and will speak out against the current fear-mongering ballot measure designed to roll back those rights.
I support the Safe Communities Act and believe that we have an obligation to respect and protect the rights of immigrants who are an important part of our communities.
Reform of our criminal justice system is a civil rights issue. Today our criminal justice system is full of bias and discrimination, disproportionately incarcerating people of color, the poor, and those with mental health and addiction issues.
We need to imagine a truly enlightened criminal justice system that reduces incarceration levels and treats those who are incarcerated humanely, with compassion and respect, and with the goal of guiding them to employment and reducing recidivism.
Suicide in state prisons and jails continues to be a startling and terrible problem. We must reform the bail system so an individual's release is based on the actual risks of doing so, not whether they have money to pay bail. Cities and towns should also be eligible for greater funding to develop community policing programs that can strengthen ties between law enforcement and those they serve.
As Councilor At-Large in Northampton, I have worked with hundreds of people on issues affecting their neighborhoods and daily lives. I will continue this approach as your State Senator, and establish an office that provides first-class constituent service to the residents of the Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester district while fighting for our interests and principles on Beacon Hill.
I will also continue my practice of holding open town halls, community meetings, and forums on particular issues across the district.
IF YOU LIVE IN:
IF YOU LIVE IN: