PATRICK-MURRAY ADMINISTRATION GOVERNING AGENDA
"Shared Prosperity and Shared Responsibility"
Governor Deval Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray strongly believe in engaging citizens and inspiring them to participate in transforming their community and their government - shared responsibility as a means to achieve shared prosperity and economic opportunity. The administration's long-term goal is to deliver meaningful change across the entire state that has a real impact on peoples' lives and future through six important priorities:
Job Creation & Economic Growth
With internationally renowned academic centers, a concentration of venture capital and a tradition of entrepreneurial leadership, Massachusetts is well positioned to prosper economically, given the right incentives. The Governor and Lieutenant Governor are committed to creating over 100,000 new jobs during their 4-year term by streamlining the government approval processes and investing in pro-growth initiatives like education, health care, stem cell research, infrastructure and workforce housing.
Investing in our Infrastructure - Introduced a $1.47 billion Immediate Needs capital bond bill - which passed unanimously in both the House and Senate - to address urgent capital needs, including road and bridge repairs in cities and towns, and to improve government efficiency.
• Permitted the release of $150 million in Chapter 90 apportionments to cities and towns on March 30th, a 25 percent increase over the prior fiscal year.
• Provided the $3.5 million in state funding needed to begin rebuilding a stretch of Quincy's Burgin Parkway and its ramps to Route 3. The long-stalled project is expected to not only save jobs that had been jeopardized by constant traffic delays in the area but also to attract new jobs as at least one company now plans to expand.
• Provided $250 million to build a state-of-the-art psychiatric hospital that would replace two antiquated state facilities
• Provided more than $41 million to enable the Division of Unemployment Assistance to embark on the first modernization of its unemployment insurance data system in more than two decades. This 4-year project, called QUEST, will reduce the cost of ongoing unemployment insurance operations, improve customer service and update what are now antiquated business practices.
South Coast Rail - Working with the Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray, delivered - as promised within the administration's first 90 days - a plan to bring passenger rail service to New Bedford, Fall River and other South Coast communities long denied a direct rail link to Boston. Preliminary plans call for service to begin in 2016 and $17 million has been pledged to begin the hard work ahead. The project will serve as a catalyst for job growth and economic development for the burgeoning South Coast communities.
Helping Businesses Grow - Created the Development Cabinet, chaired by the Governor, to enable cooperation on a project-by-project basis among executive departments that are key to stimulating economic growth statewide.
• Announced initiatives to improve efficiency and effectiveness of environmental regulation, to spur business development while remaining conscious of the environment. Proposed changes include streamlining some environmental permitting and wetlands appeals.
• Appointed the state's first-ever permitting ombudsman to help spur economic growth by speeding approval time from two to three years to just six months on development projects.
• Announced plans to begin modernizing and reforming the state procurement process to simplify how businesses participate and to expand the pool of companies who compete to provide Massachusetts with goods and services.
• Announced plans for greater support of affordable housing and job creation through the use of tax-exempt private activity bonds, with the shift favoring multi-family affordable housing projects.
• Expanded the Massachusetts Office of Business Development sales force to help businesses grow in size and strength, to encourage large companies here to remain here and to encourage new ones to make the Commonwealth their home. To date, the sales team has identified 364 companies that want to either relocate to Massachusetts or want to expand operations already here.
• Launched the $100 million MORE jobs capital program. The Massachusetts Opportunity Relocation and Expansion Jobs Program will provide infrastructure grants to municipalities who partner with businesses committed to creating at least 100 jobs.
Encouraging Stem Cell Research - Directed the Department of Public Health to revisit the regulations approved last year that guide the conduct of stem cell research in Massachusetts to ensure scientists can perform their research uninhibited. The goal is to create an environment that will secure Massachusetts' rightful place at the forefront of stem cell research and the life sciences.
Supporting Fishing Communities - Sought a declaration of emergency from the US Secretary of Commerce for the Massachusetts fishing industry. Report documenting the harm caused by federal groundfishing regulations that unfairly impact the Massachusetts fleet submitted to the Department of Commerce April 9. Declaration is a prerequisite for federal appropriation to provide relief for fishermen.
Strengthening Workforce Development - Announced new Workforce Training Fund grant awards in February, 2007 to 90 companies totaling $7.1 million to provide job-related training to nearly 9800 employees statewide for this funding round. This is just one of three funding rounds in FY07.
In early 2007, the Department of Workforce Development, through the Commonwealth Corporation, announced the availability of $10 million in funding for the new Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund, to support "industry-sector" projects to target industries such as healthcare and travel and tourism. Nearly 70 applications have been received as of the April 2, 2007 application deadline.
Massachusetts, like other states, is over-reliant on fossil fuels and foreign sources of energy. Our world renowned educational and research institutions give us an opportunity to overcome this dependence. The Governor will work to harness our Commonwealth's strengths, prioritize renewable energy projects, promote land conservation initiatives, focus on clean models of delivering energy across the Commonwealth, and make Massachusetts a world leader in the development and production of clean energy.
Fighting Global Warming - Signed onto the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, committing the Commonwealth to a multi-state effort to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and tackle global climate change. Proceeds of the sale of emissions allowances will fund an aggressive program of energy savings for households and industry throughout the Commonwealth.
Approval of Cape Wind - The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs found the Cape Wind Final Environmental Impact Report adequate, clearing final state environmental regulatory hurdle for plan to build 130 wind turbines off Cape Cod. The project is still subject to federal approvals. This marks a considerable step forward in welcoming an innovative new development to Massachusetts, showing our commitment to this emerging industry, and bringing the global clean energy market to Massachusetts.
Acting Locally - Unveiled MassEfficiency, a $2 million revolving loan fund to help Boston and four other Massachusetts cities start up large-scale energy conservation programs modeled on the new Cambridge Energy Alliance, a public-private partnership which promises $100 million in energy efficiency measures over the next five years.
We possess one of the strongest education systems in the nation, but we must do more to compete successfully in a global field. The Governor believes that the most effective way to do this is by focusing on a holistic approach of teaching an individual from "From Cradle to Career." In order to do this, he will aggressively approach new ways of educating our children and create a model for 21st Century Public Education.
Improving Education - Announced the formation of two task forces comprised of top education leaders, parents and teachers to explore how best to improve education for both Pre-K-12 and Higher Education. The groups are charged with providing advice and counsel on three issues
• an education governance structure that will facilitate a comprehensive, collaborative approach to education that begins before kindergarten and continues through high school and public higher education to the workforce and beyond;
• a strategic plan for the next generation of education improvement in the Commonwealth; and
• a short-term action agenda on a cluster of issues that will move Massachusetts forward in education between now and the FY '09 budget cycle.
Quality, Affordable Health Care for All
The Governor recognizes the importance of effectively implementing the newly passed health care reform model. Thus, he will focus on delivering affordable health insurance products to Massachusetts residents, lowering health care costs and emphasizing disease prevention.
Implementing Health Care Reform - Personally reached out to insurers to lower costs of premiums of health insurance plans to be offered by the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority. Plans, which have premiums as low as $175 per month, will provide comprehensive benefits to keep Massachusetts residents healthy at a cost that everyone can afford.
Increased Enrollment - 63,000 Commonwealth Care members have enrolled since Oct. 1, exceeding expectations that 70,000 would enroll by July 1. Since April of last year - when health care reform became law - MassHealth enrollment increased by over 43,000 people, including over 22,000 children
Already Making a Difference - People are receiving critical medical care, including: a 53-year-old Commonwealth Care member recently diagnosed with leukemia who has since undergone a successful bone marrow transplant. A 67-year-old woman with no primary care physician for years who had been treating her sore throat with outpatient clinic visits. With Commonwealth Care, her physician diagnosed her with throat cancer and she is now being treated.
Prevention - proposed a $72 million boost in public health programs including 24.8M for the Universal Immunization Program, covering three new vaccines including the Rotavirus, Meningococcal Conjugate and the Human Papilloma Virus Vaccines.
Gun- and gang-related violence is on the rise in many of our communities. The Governor's anti-crime initiatives focus both on law enforcement and crime prevention. Guided by a broad-based Anti-Crime Council, the Governor is taking action on both proven and new strategies to address gun crimes and to prevent gang violence. Safe communities are vital to the health of our residents and to real economic development.
Strengthening and Protecting Communities - Created a new multi-agency, multi-disciplinary Anti-Crime Council to advise the administration on long-term approaches to crime Prevention, Intervention and Enforcement.
Prevention - Provided $5.4 million for a statewide Summer Jobs Program for at-risk youths; $2.25 million total Boston Summer Jobs funding.
Intervention - The Administration will file anti-crime legislation, which includes mandatory post-release supervision and support for re-entry and directly cuts the number of guns on our streets by limiting firearms purchases to one gun per month.
Enforcement - The legislation will also keep high-threat individuals off the streets with pre-trial detention for gun offenses and toughen penalties by establishing the use of a firearm in a crime of violence as a felony with a mandatory sentence of five years.
Promoting Civic Engagement - Filed legislation creating the Commonwealth Corps, an organization dedicated to encouraging residents to engage in community service and volunteerism. In its first year, the Commonwealth Corps will help 250 individuals dedicate at least one year of service to a nonprofit organization, civic initiative or public entity. Plans also call for the creation of a pilot Commonwealth Student Corps and the expansion of the State Employee Responding as Volunteers program. Also, created the Public Liaison Office to help connect residents with their communities and the Governor's Office.
Partnering with Our Cities and Towns
This Administration is committed to working with local communities to help provide real property tax relief. Property taxes have skyrocketed in recent years, challenging our economic competitiveness and raising the cost of living, working and investing in Massachusetts. The Lieutenant Governor is leading the partnership efforts as the administration's point person for local affairs through the Local Government Advisory Commission.
Strengthening State and Local Partnership - Filed the Municipal Partnership Act, which would take financial pressure off property taxes in the state's 351 cities and towns by letting them join the state health insurance plan, having the state invest the funds of underperforming pension systems, and to giving cities and towns the option of approving local option meals and hotel taxes.
Establishing Direct Connections - Re-engaged, through the leadership of Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray, with the Local Government Advisory Commission and the Massachusetts Municipal Association and created a Municipal Affairs Coordinating Cabinet to implement policies and enhance collaboration between local and state government.
Providing Real Property Tax Relief - Proposed creation of Homeowner Circuit Breaker to expand tax credit for working families and reduce communities' reliance on property taxes. The tax credit of up to $920 would be open to 100,000 qualified households and would be funded through the closure of specific unintended corporate tax loopholes.
Emergency Relief - Introduced legislation and signed the law providing tax relief for homeowners affected by a chemical explosion in Danvers.