Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante (D-Gloucester) has filed new legislation in the 191st session of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, focusing on financial reforms to benefit working- and middle-class families and continuing investment in local communities.
“I have been concerned with the shrinking middle class,” said Ferrante. “There is little doubt that the financial crisis of 2008 and the subsequent growth in individual debt due to decreased equity in housing values, credit card spending, and the cost of higher education have exacerbated income inequality. Under our current economic programs, both federal and state, this trend is predicted to continue.”
In order to mitigate the challenges of working- and middle-class families, Ferrante has proposed reforms that she has collaborated on with Treasurer and Receiver General Deborah Goldberg. This legislation includes:
- HD.2844 An Act relative to the SMART Plan, which would auto-enroll new state employees in the Massachusetts Save Money and Retire Tomorrow (SMART) Plan, with the option to “opt-out” at any time.
- HD.2843 An Act relative to the 401(k) CORE program, which would eliminate the 20-employee limit on organizations authorized to participate in the Treasurer’s CORE program, which allows the Commonwealth to administer retirement plans for small nonprofits, and authorizes the program to accept private donations and grants through fundraising.
- HD.2842 An Act investing in the Commonwealth’s schools, which would increase the cap on Massachusetts School Building Authority investment from $500 million to $750 million, allowing the MSBA to spend an amount it already collects through a dedicated portion of the sales tax.
- HD.2841 An Act relative to financial literacy, which would add financial literacy to the list of services for which the Department of Transitional Assistance is directed to collaborate with other agencies and entities.
- HD.2840 An Act relative to student debt, which would create a pilot program at a single, to be determined UMass campus that will provide debt calculations to students, in order to make sure that students entering college understand the level of debt to which they are committing themselves.
- HD.2838 An Act relative to ensuring investment equality, which would direct the Pension Reserves Investment Management Board to seek out investment opportunities with women- and minority-owned businesses as part of their local investment program.
“Access and easy entry to retirement plans, knowledge of financial literacy including the benefits of compounded interest and debt management, increased investments in our schools, and enabling historically disadvantaged populations are important tools to making Massachusetts’ economy work for all our residents,” said Ferrante. “I’m extremely glad to be working with Treasurer Goldberg to address these issues.”
“In every area of the Treasurer’s office we strive to ensure economic stability and security for all Massachusetts residents,” said Treasurer Deborah Goldberg. “I am thrilled to partner with Representative Ferrante to build robust financial literacy programs, provide retirement plans for nonprofit organizations, and work to strengthen the economic future for our state and everyone who lives here. When we invest in people, we empower people to invest in themselves.”
To continue investment in local communities, Ferrante has filed HD.2835 An Act to preserve community preservation revenue, which would make a one-time adjustment to recording fees at the state’s Registries of Deeds in order to fund the Commonwealth’s Community Preservation Act Trust Fund. The fees, which have not been adjusted in 20 years, would raise the base match from the Commonwealth to CPA communities to approximately 40 percent at the current level of CPA participation.
“The Community Preservation Act is one of the most successful local aid programs in Massachusetts,” said Ferrante. “Nearly half the cities and towns in Massachusetts rely on local aid from the statewide Community Preservation Act Trust Fund to make investments in historical preservation, open spaces, and affordable housing. It is critical that we stabilize funding to the CPA Trust Fund in order to meet the state match that CPA communities rely on.”
The CPA base match from the Commonwealth was 13 percent in 2018. 175 communities representing 60 percent of the state’s population currently participate in the CPA program, creating jobs, spurring economic development, and preserving open spaces and local history. On Cape Ann alone, the Community Preservation Act has provided critical funding to such programs as the rehabilitation of Gloucester City Hall, Essex Town Hall, and the Rockport Meeting House.