Thank you for staying engaged with our office over the past few months. I wanted to reach out and give you an update on what we have been up to this year, the things we have accomplished, and the work that lies ahead:
In January we set forth an ambitious transportation agenda, including rapid transit equity on the Fairmount Line, improved public transit access for the Silver Line, generating new revenues to make major investments in the MBTA, and improving current service levels. I am proud to say that we have made substantial progress on several of those initiatives, and remain committed to seeing them through.
Our office worked hard to secure a provision in the Senate Budget that would mandate a full study of electrification of the Fairmount Line, an important first step in achieving true transit equity. Although this section was not included in the final budget, I know that with continued efforts, and focused community advocacy, we can work together to finally turn this commuter line into a clean, rapid, reliable transit corridor for the residents who live there today. Access to public transit breaks down barriers to economic mobility, and clean, electric energy will help reduce the public health disparities we see today.
Recent derailments and service failures have highlighted the need for the T to earn back the public’s trust and faith in the system. To do that, we need to make bold, lasting investments. Otherwise, the system will continue to lose riders and our streets will become more and more congested. Since they were first announced, I have been outspoken in opposition to the MBTA fare increases until there is a long-term finance plan to make significant, system wide improvements, as well as address structural debt and pension liability. I have offered several policy proposals to offset that revenue and create passive income for the system that does not place the burden on riders. These include:
- New, non-fare, non-tax revenues by means of Public Private Partnerships on excess MBTA parcels which can generate lasting incomefor transit systems without costing riders a dime, providing serious funding to make the sort of game-changing investments we need
- Legislation to allow cities and towns to levy additional fees on TNC’s to offset the negative environmental and transportation impacts associatedwith single use rides and encourage more people to use clean transit
Additionally, since January the Commonwealth has allocated over $19 million for the City of Boston specifically for roadway and transportation infrastructure upgrades through Chapter 90 to make sure our streets are safe and well maintained.
Historic Education Funding Increase
In October the State Senate unanimously passed the Student Opportunity Act, an unprecedented $1.5 billion new investment in Massachusetts K-12 public education. This legislation ensures public schools have adequate resources to provide high-quality education to students across the state, regardless of zip code or income level. Assuming inflation, this bill could provide between $75-$115 million to the City of Boston, and $2.2 billion statewide. The Student Opportunity Act significantly helps school districts that serve high concentrations of low-income students, including the Boston Public School system.
In May, we in the Senate put together a spending package which reflects our values and priorities. My office was focused on delivering for every community in the First Suffolk District, prioritizing economic mobility, job training, public health programming, environmental justice, and support for our small businesses.
One program that underscores our priorities is New England Center for Arts and Technology (NECAT). We secured $300,000 for their program to impact poverty, opioid addiction, homelessness and recidivism by helping chronically unemployed and underemployed adults develop the skills to thrive in Boston’s food services industry.
In an effort to reduce the opportunity gap for high school students in Boston, we increased funding for the Boston Scholar Athletes to serve 5,000 young people with academic coaching, mentoring, health and wellness services, and college and career readiness programming. BSA students are 45% African-American, 31% Latino, 25% English-language learners, and face public health and greenspace access disparities.
In addition to passing major pieces of legislation protecting students and establishing new reporting guidelines for higher education, promoting the health and safety of persons with disabilities and children, and preventing distracted driving, the MA State Senate passed a supplemental budget which contributed an additional $356 million to the State’s Rainy Day Fund, bringing the fund to $3.2 Billion. This transfer not only safeguards against financial downturns and recessions, it also improves the State’s financial standing by improving our bond rating, and showing that Massachusetts is a leader in financial stability and economic growth.
In short, we are making significant progress in the First Suffolk District and across the Commonwealth. I am proud to go to work every day to fight for our shared values, and I couldn’t do this without your engagement and support.
Thank you for your continued support,