As fall begins and our formal sessions resume at the State House, I want to update you on some of the important work that is happening on Beacon Hill and around Cape Ann!
First, some exciting news on education. The Joint Committee on Education released an education funding reform bill last week that fully implements the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission. This bill would provide an estimated $1.4 billion in new Chapter 70 aid over and above inflation when fully implemented over the next seven years. The bill also provides additional state financial support to public schools to deliver high-quality education to every student, implements policy updates designed to maximize the impact of new funding in improving student outcomes, and identifies education policy areas requiring further analysis. Be on the lookout for more details on this important legislation in an upcoming post.
This year, the legislature passed a balanced budget for the 2020 fiscal year that makes major investments in our people, infrastructure, and economy. Importantly, this year’s budget includes significant increases to local education aid in line with the Foundation Budget Review Commission’s report on school funding, as well as new funds to assist school districts with high levels of low-income students. It also provides resources to address non-academic barriers to school success. Locally, the budget allocates over $15 million in local aid for Cape Ann’s communities and over $500,000 in targeted local initiatives to strengthen public safety, build economic opportunity, and celebrate and preserve our history.
Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges we are facing on Cape Ann. In July, the House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation to provide grants to avert climate change, invest in climate and coastal resiliency, and promote renewable energy, providing over $1.3 billion over 10 years. The details of this legislation can be found here. This plan helps prepare our cities and towns for the future and will create new jobs across the Commonwealth. I am now working with a bipartisan coaltion of House colleagues to establish a corresponding research fund to solely focus on climate change and coastal resiliency. You may be aware that the Trump Administration has significantly reduced funding to the Northeast Climate Center at UMass Amherst, with which the UMass Marine Station Gloucester is affiliated. We must do all that we reasonably can to prepare for and mitigate climate change.
This summer, I sent a letter requesting that the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Export Development hold a hearing to determine the effects the retaliatory tariffs China has levied on American lobster are having on the Massachusetts lobster industry. Since the tariffs went into effect, there has been a 70 percent drop in U.S. lobster exports to China and a 50 percent increase in Canadian lobster exports to China. Last week, I testified before the committee, along with several local business owners and stakeholders, about the enormous negative impact the Trump Administration’s trade war with China is having on Cape Ann and communities around the Commonwealth. Thank you to Vince Mortillaro and Monte Rome for coming to Boston to testify before the committee. The Boston Globe also published my op-ed on the subject last week, which you can click here to read.
Earlier that same day, I chaired a hearing of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies at the Gloucester House to hear testimony on coastal and cultural economic development issues. Committee members came from around the state and heard from local residents, businesses, and nonprofits on how the bills before the committee would affect their lives and businesses, including several filed by myself and Senator Bruce Tarr. The goal is to revitalize our working harbors on Cape Ann, form a strategic plan for our fishing industry, and promote our cultural economy. Thank you to Lenny Linquata, Patti Page, Angela Sanfilippo, Karen Ristuben, and Valerie Nelson for your testimony.
In July, we cut the ribbon at the grand opening of Manship Artists Residency + Studios along with my state and local colleagues. MARS started several years ago as a dream by local artists to preserve the property of Paul Manship and to continue its use by artists. Because of support from our local donor community and Mass Cultural Council – as well as a lot of volunteers – this dream has come true. I have been pleased to have seen this vision grow into a reality and to have been able to help bring support from the state to the table. Art and culture enriches our spirit and our economy. We will continue to make strong investments them on Cape Ann and around Massachusetts.
Cape Ann is really moving the needle forward on arts and culture. I visited the Cape Ann Museum campus by Grant Circle twice this summer. In June, I joined Senator Bruce Tarr, Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, local officials, and museum supporters for the “raising of the beam” of the new construction. Senator Tarr and I returned last week to tour the historic buildings on the property and view the worksite. Cape Ann Museum director Oliver Barker, board president Charles Esdaile, and board member Wilber James guided us through the property and laid out the vision for the campus. When completed, this project will be a wonderful asset to Cape Ann’s heritage and culture.
As fall approaches, I am looking forward to discussions that the legislature will be having about education, transportation, and other issues of importance to us on Cape Ann and around the Commonwealth. In these discussions, I have and will continue to make sure that Cape Ann’s interests are represented on Beacon Hill.