Sunday, December 21, 2008
Dateline: Boston, Mass.
BPI: In a packed press conference held in Faneuil Hall, Boston, Massachusetts, Santa Claus today asked for help from the US $700 billion bailout package. Santa said that without some assistance this year, he would have to cut back on Christmas and may have to shutter the operations center at the North Pole. Santa has estimated that he will need in the vicinity of $39 billion in order to complete his deliveries “on time and on budget” this year.
Santa was in Boston over the weekend to meet with Massachusetts’s officials about his application for life science funding when accountants from the Canadian firm of D’Argent , Tout and LeMonde (DT&L) gave him the bad news. “Bad investments in the off season coupled with high energy costs have really hit us hard,” Santa explained. “Cold weather costs us greatly each year, but since global warming hit, the sump pumps to keep things dry with all the icebergs thawing is costing an arm and a leg.”
He added, “ Transportation is a killer and has been worse since the reindeer unionized. You’d think that one night a year isn’t bad working conditions, but we now have to pay for degree days and well, they are working on a holiday.” Santa went on to say that negotiations have been difficult this year as the coursers are looking for danger pay. “It was the darndest thing last year. We were flying over little villages in Alaska when some woman in a helicopter started shooting at us! Now they are nervous and we can’t have Dasher up there with a nervous stomach. We have to keep stopping and scooping.”
Santa said the economy has hit him in several ways. “No one keeps anything in inventory anymore, and we pay a premium just to keep to schedule. That has cost us more. We try to buy year round in anticipation, but storage costs increases our carrying costs and banks don’t like to see inventory sitting there.”
Santa’s spokesman, Herbie T. Elf pointed to a couple of investments gone badly this year. “Santa’s house has been in the family forever, and Mrs. Claus really likes it, but has been getting a little tired with all the wind and bluster up here. You think the Cape is tough on a paint job, come on up to the Pole. But this was a lousy year to get a new mortgage on the old house. Last year was good, but there is little demand this year and the banker said we could flip it for a nicer place in the magnetic north pole before our subprime rates kicked into a conventional mortgage, but we didn’t know that they demanded insurance because we are in a flood plain. That was a real killer.”
At this point, Santa interjected, “How was I supposed to know the pole sits on the Artic Ocean? I’m just a toy maker for God’s sake!”
Mr. Elf continued, “ The mortgage company was nice but very firm on our paying back the loan and we need relief. We counter offered, but the Tickle Me Elmos are not worth what they used to be.”
As for other investment problems, because of pending lawsuits, all Herbie Elf would say was, “ I can’t say anything but this, I believe that Mr. Madoff has been relocated to the “naughty” list, if you know what I mean.”
Mr. Claus was asked about his meetings in Boston with Gov. Patrick and the life science people. He said that meetings were cordial and the governor encouraged him to think about relocating to Boston. When asked why he was looking for life science money, all Santa would say was, “Where do you think we get all these identical elves?”
Mr. Claus said that the amount was firm, but how payments are made are open for negotiations. Payments could be divided between dba’s such as Father Christmas, Sinter Klaus, Kris Kringle, or Santa Claus. Santa did however point out that he would prefer to receive payments in the name of St. Nick as that preserved his religious tax-free status. “It just adds to the mounting cost if I have to pay taxes.” he shrugged.
An accountant from Mr. Claus’ firm, Joshua Heifitz pointed out that the cost could be worse. “Fortunately, we are in a down year “nice” list-wise. People like Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Mr. Madoff, investment accountants, and even a few from this state have driven down demand and we feel that we are comfortable with the aforementioned amount.”
Mr. Heifitz concluded the press conference by asking what people would do if Santa had to close shop. “If Santa closes, what’s left? Burger King meat scented perfume? So who’s happy with that shmutz? Someone’s got to help the good people. Besides, Santa Claus is too big for us to let fail!”
When asked, the White House refused comment. Senator Redd Stanton of Mississippi suggested that the timing of the request was suspicious. “Here we are a few days before Christmas and Mister Claus comes around with his hand out. I just think the timing is suspicious. What we really ought to be talking about is whether he needs some documentation before flying all over the country illegally. There’s something wrong with that." Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut was far more open to looking at this request. “While I am concerned and disappointed that Mr. Claus flew down here in his personal sleigh rather than take a domestic animal, I have always said we need to keep the Ho Ho Ho in Christmas”, Dodd was quoted as saying.
Big Press International
Saturday, December 20, 2008
I have stayed on top of this situation by talking with each utility to measure their progress and by staying in touch with the Governor's efforts. My office has called each town and we have offered our help in getting paperwork to Mema/Fema offices in order to make sure we qualify for disaster relief aid.
I am worried about the long term effects of this storm and about subsequent storms. There are many trees down and many will die. I am worried about the long term effects on soil erosion and water tables. I also worry that emergency work to get lines up and power and telephone service restored have taken a long time and there are still trees that are down but not touching the power lines presently. these could come down and take wires in subsequent storms. We need to watch this closely.
The following is a press release that I issued on December 19. It contains a lot of information on what has been done; what needs to be done; who to call if power is not restored; and who farms should call over physical losses.
Bosley Comments on Power Outage and Restoration Efforts
Last Friday, parts of the Commonwealth – particularly in the Worcester area and along Route 2 throughout Berkshire and Franklin counties – were devastated with an ice storm that left hundreds of thousands without power and destroyed hundreds of trees.
Representative Daniel E. Bosley (D-North Adams) surveyed the damage around the First Berkshire District earlier this week. “Despite the progress that has been made since last week, I am gravely concerned about a recurrence of downed wires due to fallen trees that have not been cleared given the forecast of two or three storms in succession. It is imperative that everyone work together to restore power to homes and businesses and clear the roads for safe travel and emergency vehicles.”
The storm had far-reaching effects for all utility companies. For example, approximately 20,000 Western Massachusetts Electricity Company (WMECO) customers were without power as a result of the storm – 1,354 in Berkshire County. As of today, more than 17,500 of those have had their power restored with 48 customers remaining – down from 199 yesterday – in Savoy and 13 in Franklin County – down from 88 yesterday.
With over 1,000 line and tree crews as well as an additional 1,300 support personnel working throughout the Commonwealth, National Grid has restored power to all but 13 houses in Florida and 200 in North Adams. They have fielded over 51,000 phone calls and identified 4,000 individual items that require the company’s attention, such as downed lines, open circuit breakers, trees leaning on electrical equipment and broken poles. National Grid customers that lose power can call the customer service center at 800-322-3223 so that a restoration crew can be deployed in a timely fashion.
Verizon had 4,000 lines down but as of Wednesday, they have replaced 900 poles. “Although electricity has not yet been restored to everyone, I applaud the rapid responses of the local utility companies and the state’s emergency management services,” said Bosley. “Given the enormity of the damage, crews have worked hard to restore service.” Most of the utilities have said they hope to have all power restored by Saturday.
For those who remain without power or lose power this winter, Rep. Bosley reminds them to adhere to a few practices to prevent the pipes from freezing and to keep a fuse from blowing when power is restored. According to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) website, “to keep pipes from freezing, wrap them in insulation or layers of newspapers, covering the newspapers with plastic to keep out moisture; let faucets drip a trickle of water from the faucet farthest from your water meter to help keep pipes from freezing; if pipes freeze, remove insulation, completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they are most exposed to the cold. A hand-held hair dryer, used with caution, also works well; in order to protect against possible voltage irregularities that can occur when power is restored, you should unplug all sensitive electronic equipment, including your TVs, stereo, VCR, microwave oven, computer, cordless telephone, answering machine and garage door opener.”
For the towns that submitted a preliminary damage assessment to MEMA, the state will sort through to estimate what the state is capable of funding. Following that they will work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to financially assist those communities who dispersed otherwise budgeted funds to provide for the clean-up and any damages sustained to residences and businesses. Rep. Bosley said, “I have been working with MEMA and the Patrick Administration to ensure all cities and towns in the district are accounted for and I am particularly worried about the long-term effects of all of the damaged trees, which could lead to soil erosion and affect the water tables in the future.” As of yesterday, preliminary damages were estimated at around $2.6 million. With more winter weather on the way, those costs will likely increase.
In addition to that, Rep. Bosley recognizes that a lot of damages have been sustained at local farms. For farmers who have suffered physical losses due to the storm, they are urged to call and report losses to the local Farm Service Agency (FSA). For Berkshire County, the contact information for the Pittsfield office is 413-443-1776 Ext 100 and the Franklin County FSA in Greenfield can be contacted at 413-772-0384 Ext 2.
Following the storm, Governor Deval Patrick declared a State of Emergency. The declaration of a State of Emergency will enable the Governor to take the appropriate steps to mobilize many of the Commonwealth's assets, such as the National Guard, and conduct other emergency business to assist local communities is their response to and recovery from the many impacts of this winter storm. If you have questions or need assistance during this emergency, contact Mass 2-1-1 by dialing “2-1-1” or visit www.mass211.org.
National Grid customers that experience a loss of power can call the customer service center at 800-322-3223 so that a restoration crew can be deployed in a timely fashion.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Over the past few years, Massachusetts has struggled as to how we pay for our roads system. We incurred a huge debt during the construction of the “Big Dig” project in Boston. This project aided in the transportation of cars through Boston on the North South highway. The rest of the state complained about paying for this. But the issue is complicated. On one hand, we needed to get traffic through Boston faster. The expressway was built for less than 50,000 cars per day and was handling over 250,000 cars per day just before the Dig was opened. It was clear that, given the amount of activity in this area, we needed to do something like this. Given the amount of revenue generated by business activity in this area, it is in the interests of everyone in the state to ensure that a better roadway was constructed. It also brought in a tremendous amount of federal dollars and this fueled our economy with goods, services, and salaries.
On the other hand, this project sucked highway money out of the rest of the state and many projects were left undone. These projects were, and are, just as important as the Big Dig to those areas around the state stifled by lousy transportation.
There are many other considerations. How do we rebuild a reliance on rail for both passenger and goods? How do we rebuild our regional transportation? Are there ways we can lessen our reliance on cars and use more enviro-friendly mass transportation? Is this fiscally possible given the problems of the MBTA in Boston?
However, for today, let’s just look at our roadways. It seems to me that we need to find a way to look at a statewide plan if we are to reorganize and modernize our highway departments or systems. The Big Dig grew far larger than anyone imagined. In doing so, it ate up a generation of highway funding resulting in a crisis today. We can lay blame and I am sure in hindsight that a better job could have been done in managing the financial aspects of this project. But the fact is that the Dig was the largest construction project ever done in America and there were not enough state and federal auditors to watch over something of this size. And the Big Dig was first proposed as part of the Eisenhower Defense Highway bill passed in the 50’s. Naturally the price grew with inflation, but also with the cost of such things as steel that far outgrew inflation. It was expensive but necessary.
Whatever the reasons, the state is charged with paying their fair share and until we come to grips with this, we can’t spend money on the rest of the system. That has been the problem. The state didn’t come to grips with this project, as it was ongoing, the federal government was complaining about the size and demanding we put together a funding scheme. Consequently, a lot of this debt (over $2 billion) was given to the Massachusetts Turnpike Agency. That has lead to fiscal problems at the pike and lead to toll increases that place the burden on the people who travel from the western suburbs of Boston. Since they don’t use the north south route through the Big Dig, they are complaining about paying for the roadway. The same can be said for the people in some neighborhoods in Boston who are looking at $7.00/day tolls to get to work. The people in western Massachusetts don’t want to pay for this as they think that their roads haven’t been done because of this project. So what do we do?
The Governor wants to merge the transportation systems of the Massachusetts port authority (MassPort), the turnpike (MTA) and our highway department together. There are problems with this. First, MassPort cannot commingle federal moneys from the airport together with other funds. This is a bad fit and since 9/11 they have struggled fiscally themselves. As for the MTA, they have their own outstanding bonds that will have to be reconciled if they merge. This is very complex. And I have said this could be good or bad depending on whether the rest of the state will look like the turnpike or the turnpike will look like the rest of our roads. But the largest problem is that this generates little towards resolving the biggest issue; that of the big dig debt. The agencies are like three people who go out to lunch and get a $75 bill and only have $60. They can pass the bill around, but ultimately, they still only have $60! The issue here is about raising the revenues to pay for the kind of roads and bridges we want.
There are currently four ways that have been suggested to do this.
1. The Senate has suggested that we take a look at privatizing the turnpike. This has had mixed results around the US. Moreover, that gives us money up front for long term leasing or purchase of roads. Will future legislatures run through this money resulting in more problems in the future or will they salt that money away and use it over the course of the years of the lease?
2. Can we offer ways to cut back expenditures in order to make the transportation agencies run leaner, putting more money into retiring debt and fixing roads? There are always ways to squeeze money out of the budgets, but we need to be cautious about what that means. One of the ways that we “squeezed” money out of the budget while paying for the Dig was by cutting back on the design work in the 90’s. That led to jobs around the state being postponed multiple times for years.
3. We can raise tolls. This is unacceptable to many as they pay tolls but don’t feel that others are paying their fair share. That is true. A part of the state is paying greatly increased tolls while others pay nothing, including people who use the big Dig on a daily basis. And the tolls in western Massachusetts were taken down years ago despite the studies that find that most of those tolls were paid for by out of state users of the pike.
4. We can raise the gas tax. This hasn’t been done since 1992 and we are below the national average in gas tax. A law was passed in the 90’s that ensured all the gas tax was actually used on our roadways. This seems more equitable since everyone pays it and it is a consumption tax. The more you drive, the more you pay. However, it is tough to raise a tax during a fiscal downturn. And, people in rural areas such as mine know that cars are a necessity and rural areas mean that services are farther away. While an urban area trip to the grocery store means around the block, in some towns it means traveling 15 miles both ways. Is this equitable?
I am sorry that this is such a long post, but this is a complicated issue and a thorough discussion could take up volumes. It is also a Hobson’s choice that may not have a right answer.
I think we need to do a little of everything in order to be equitable and to solve this problem. It is a drag on our economy and people are paying more for their cars through accelerated tire wear and realignments and the like because our roads are bad. We are losing commerce because our roads are bad. We need to fix this.
I believe we need to look for all the savings we can wring out of the systems. This means that the turnpike can no longer fund tourism grants or plowing adjacent roads. We need to increase our electronic passes and decrease our toll takers. We need to reinstate the western tolls to pay for the western maintenance. We need to take look at tolls at the borders of the state. And I am leaning towards an increase in the gas tax... a modest increase the gas tax. Gas has gone from $4.03/gal to $1.73. (That is the range I have paid in the last year.) If we had passed a gas tax at $4.03 to take effect of increasing our tax $.01 for every $.25 drop in price over the last few months we would have raised the gas tax by $.08 and no one would have noticed. We need to raise taxes between $.06-$.09. I think that as gas prices continue to drop, this is not an unfair burden given that it has not been increased in over 16 years. We could even provide a sliding scale to decrease this if gas prices rise precipitously in the future. This actually makes sense given that higher gas prices lead to decreased use of roads. Again, this is complicated as we need to ensure highway bondholders that we would continue to raise money to pay for bonds. So the state would have to make commitments on this, or find ways to increase mass transportation.
However, and it is a big however, we need to ensure that this increase creates a meaningful state plan to repair our roads ALL across the state. This includes funding the redheaded stepchildren of our system, the regional transportation authorities. In order to gain acceptance, people need to know that their roads will be taken care of.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. I hope you all have a great day and get to spend time with family and friends doing whatever makes you happy and healthy. Well, healthy except for the food and more food!! We spend so much time thinking about all the things we need to do, or what goes wrong in our everyday lives. We need to spend time today, at least, thinking about all of the good things we have in our lives. I am thankful for a good supportive caring family and all of the friends that enrich my life. I hope you have the same.
This has been a tough year in a lot of ways. Yet, many people have invested their hopes and dreams in a new leader for our country. We should live, not in reflection of what has gone wrong, but in hope of what we can do together in the future. I wish you all a healthy and happy day and may the best day of the past year be the worst day in the upcoming year.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
A few weeks ago, I spent two weeks in China. It was a trade mission with the Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Investment. I realized a lifelong dream by standing on the Great Wall of China. What a thrill! I also manned the Massachusetts booth at the Shenzhen Hi-Tech Trade Fair; spoke at a Minister’s Conference at that fair as one of ten from around the world; gave one of two keynote addresses at a Merger and Acquisition Conference in Shanghai, witnessed a signing of a green communities agreement; visited our Massachusetts Tech Center in the Zhjanjiang Park; visited out trade office in Beijing; toured Tsinghua University and met with officials of that school; and had numerous meetings with government officials on both the federal and provincial level. It was a busy and fascinating trip.
I have been dealing with international trade issues for over fifteen years. I have met many of these Chinese officials in Boston and have worked to establish trade ties there and elsewhere around the globe. China is interesting when you consider that their economy is growing and they have one quarter of the world’s population. There is a market there for everything. In the Zhangjiang Park, there were so many life science companies that I felt like I was in Cambridge, Mass.
There are so many opportunities in China that it is important that we explore each one available. Yet it is also important that those opportunities are mutually beneficial. They must be bilateral. But they have to be explored.
When I first entered the Legislature over twenty years ago, a typical life science company in Massachusetts may have run something like this: research was done in Cambridge/ Boston because of the abundance of research labs and universities and our hospital cluster in this area. Backroom operations such as sales and management may have been located in central Massachusetts, and clinical trials may have happened in the greater Boston area. Manufacturing could be done in western Massachusetts as the machine tool trades and cost lead to this area being conducive to those operations. Today, research and development is still being done in the Cambridge/Boston area, but clinical trials may be done in Brazil; backroom operations may be in Zurich and manufacturing may be in China. This is a worldwide economy and we either participate in it or we get left behind. I believe that Massachusetts is well positioned to compete in this worldwide marketplace with a large high tech business base and an innovative workforce. However, it takes a lot of work and follow through in order to compete and we need to do more in order to equip our business community with the tools to effectively trade with other provinces and states around the globe.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Now it is up to all of us to continue to stay engaged in the process of democracy. The system works when we all work to be a part of it. We have a lot of work to do to support our new President-elect. Let's get to work.
In my district, even though I had no opposition, I appreciate the people who still checked off my name and I really appreciate the many people who came up to me at the polls yesterday with words of encouragement and suggestions for things for us to do. Thank you and I look forward to working with you for another two-year term.
Thanks again, and now, let's get to work!
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I know that we are told every four years that that particular election is the most important in our lifetime. This is not rhetoric this time. This is a turning point for our country. We are in the midst of combat actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are borrowing billions of dollars to operate our federal government and have run up a record deficit in the past eight years. We have lost the respect of people around the world and have lost our place as a leader on many world issues. We are falling behind in the evolving global economy. Our country is lurching through a financial crisis and a recession. Most importantly, this nation has been divided on many issues between "red" states and "blue" states. Over the last eight years we have seen national leaders use wedge issues that divide us and we have been much better at politics than at government.
We can do better. But that means each of us needs to participate in this election and make a choice. The promise that this country holds for each of us is a wonderful thing. We have freedoms here that many others in other countries can merely dream about. But maintaining these freedoms is hard work. Each of us must participate and not just criticize the choices others make. We have to have a discussion over the direction of our country and we have to work to advance those collective goals. That is not easy and it means that we need to be active in our communities, in our elections, and in our causes. Ronald Reagan asked the question in 1980, "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" That is only part of the question. The other is "What have you done to make this country better than four years ago?" That means we all need to work to make this country better than it was or is. We need to all work in order to hand the next generation the American dream still intact and better than we were received from our parents. For some of us, that means running for office. For others, it means civic involvement or activism. For all of us, it means getting involved with our vote. It all starts there. Reagan had the question right, but we need to hearken back to the words of John F. Kennedy as to how we make this country better than it was four years ago. He exhorted us to get involved when he said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." He knew that we all needed to participate in order to preserve and enhance the American dream.
I think that we have forgotten that in many ways. Many people feel disenfranchised. Many do not vote or feel that vote doesn’t count. Many feel that we are entitled to services and goods here in America simply because we are Americans. All that changes today, if we get out and make a choice. An election doesn't necessarily change our country in and of itself. But if we all make the decision to vote in this critical election, it is a start. If we all decide to get involved locally, it is a start. If we all decide to have a discussion rather than criticize each other’s choices, it is a movement.
That starts today. We have the power to make a choice today that will dictate the direction of our country for years to come. Please join with me in getting involved and voting today. Vote for the candidate of your choice, but go vote!
Thank you for your vote and your service.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Last weekend I took two staff members and visited the windmill complex in upstate New York. These windmills are located primarily in the towns of Chateaugay, Clinton, and Ellenberg. Each one generates enough electricity to power about 500 homes. There are hundreds planned.
I heard of the windmills in a dairy farm commission hearing last spring, but didn’t realize how big this was until I had occasion in August to pass through these towns on the way back from Canada. They are in people back yards and you can see corn growing or cows grazing right around the windmills. Testimony during the dairy hearings stated that the dairy farmers are sharing the profits form the windmills and most were enthusiastic about their placement. Here in Massachusetts where windmills are controversial, I wonder if we would be so quick to embrace these? If you click on these and enlarge the images, you can see the tops of windmills all around the farm.
Friday, October 3, 2008
Reuters: London, England. World English teachers today issued a multinational press release announcing that there is a sudden global shortage of the word “also” that is threatening the ability for people all over the world to make additions in sentences as a form of communication. Professor Ian Shellington, Professor Emeritus, Oxford University detailed this sudden shortage of the adverb today in an interview with Katie Couric. “This is a sudden and complete depletion of a very valuable resource in our ability to communicate with one another,” detailed Shellington. “It would appear that this is a very severe loss that has halted overnight communication in such things as email.”
John Soucer, a football coach in the Laffey-Bristol League described how this has impacted his ability to live a normal life. “Me and some mates were returning from Cracker’s Pub last night and I was going to post some of me exploits on me blog, when I was unable to one up some bloke from Stilton. His posts are usually cheesy and they stink, but he’s always bragging. I found an distinct and dreaded inability to one up him due to my shortage of , y’know, that word.” Bollocks! What’s a bloke to do if we can’t brag about our knitting??!
Closer to home Mitzi Smith-Hurst, spokeswoman for the American Teachers Association blamed the shortage on No Child Left Behind. “This is what happens when schools and teachers are under funded by the present administration. If we had more money, we’d have more language. It’s as simple as that.”
Speculation over the shortage has reached immediate consensus. Overwhelmingly the overnight news agencies have pointed to the overuse of the word during last night’s debate by Alaskan Governor and Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin in her one and one half hour debate with Democratic nominee Sen. Joseph Biden of Pennsylvania, and until recently, Delaware. Tom Brokaw, NBC icon stated that, while he didn’t usually pick winners and losers in these debates, she was the clear winner in use of the “A” word. Researchers at Factcheck.org said that it hampered their ability to research facts used by the Governor. Researcher Derek Bloggonanon said, “Jees, we kept looking up statements because, you know, we are supposed to look these things up in real time. But we would start to look this stuff up and then she would add something else and pretty soon our computers were slower than assistance to New Orleans. It really hurt us.” The Presidential Debate Commission could not confirm or deny this as the source of the language crisis. Mimi Langdorf, spokesperson for the Commission said they keep count on many things, but not on language use. “Quite frankly, Langdorf said,” We haven’t run across anything quite like this since Ross Perot’s use of the word “Get”. The Commission did point to notes taken from the podium as possible proof that Palin did, indeed, precipitate this crisis. Ms Langdorf stated, “You may notice during debates that candidates will make notes for their use. We do keep the notes from the podiums in our archives as part of the Presidential debate collection in Windage, Minnesota, proposed home of the Presidential Debate Commission Museum and Gift Shop. On Governor Palin’s sheet, the word in question was scribbled one hundred and seventeen times. The only other notes were “wink, wink”, and “Make sure they flew in the moose meat for Todd’s dinner.”
Fox News had immediate overnight special programming on this issue with commentators ridiculing the press’ reporting of this story. “What a bunch of cry babies,” noted newsman Ron Huntsman, “This is from the elite eastern press corps who can’t seem to lower themselves to use the word ‘too’. For crying out loud, get over it.”
The White House issued a statement that it was studying the situation and would look to release more language from the federal language reserve. This would mark the first time in the eight years of the Bush Presidency that an expansion of language has been allowed. In the meantime, White House advisors, after an early morning meeting, have asked that people remain confident in our English Language. “Our Languages is strong,” President Bush said after being told of the early morning meeting. Advisors have advised that the language shortage is temporary and should abate as soon as Palin is placed back into isolation and away from the press corps. In the meantime, they have asked the general public to use the words “besides”, “likewise”, and the phrase “as well” until normalcy returns to the United States.
In related news, overnight markets were down substantially upon learning of this latest shortage, oil prices rose to over $100.00 per barrel, and Pubster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus, the largest of the wordsmiths in the US has asked Congress to consider a $150 million fiscal package to allow them to recapitalize the word market.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
This is a picture of a yellow cardinal. I had never seen one before, but this was taken at the eastern portal of the Hoosac Tunnel in the Town of Florida. There were a bunch of Cardinals flying around by the train trestle over the Deerfield River. Only one was red and the rest were various shades of yellow! If you enlarge this picture you can clearly see a red spot on the wing that is shaped like a heart. Talk about carrying your heart on your sleeve!
Edited: After the Comment, it looks as if this is a Cedar Waxwing. Thank you for the comment. I have never heard nor seen this bird before. I thought it was a Cardinal because, well, it looks like one and there was a red one in the group. Nonetheless, it is a beautiful bird. BTW, it is sitting on the fencing of the train trestle. This is a long rickety bridge over the Deerfiel River.
It has been a month since my last post. This is not for lack of activity, but just a lack of time. Things have been progressing on several fronts.
Heating Assistance Forum. I believe that the forum was a success. The people who attended were given a lot of practical advice on where to go for assistance this winter and also were given information on services that could help make their homes more energy efficient. To an extent, it may have been too much information at one time. We gave out palm cards that had numbers of services available and hopefully, people will call these services. Since the forum, I have had a lot of calls asking for information and I know that people who were there have referred others to us.
Food Assistance. The other need this winter will be for food assistance for people who will be spending more money on heating and less on eating. Again, we have heard from a lot of people on this issue. This is an issue that I have worked on n the past and continue to do so. This year, the Legislature increased their funding for food banks to over $12 million. I also note that a few days ago, there was a story about food stamps in Massachusetts. We have lead the nation in the past few years in expansion of our program. I am proud to say that, working with the department, I included language in a past economic development bill that made it easier for that program to add participants. There are a couple of things we have been working on in my office. First, we are compiling a list of places that may be able to help. I will get that list out soon. In the Community Coalition office, the Target Hunger people have been working on coordination of services and my office is trying to be helpful on this front. Lastly, I am working with area agencies to try to make it easier to get food from the food bank to our area. I will have more on this in a week or two.
Broadband. In the next month, Commissioner Gillette from the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) will be in our area holding an informational hearing. She was key to passage of the broadband bill this session and I am happy that she is coming out here. We are working to implement that bill and passage of the bill has lead Verizon to expand their coverage of DSL services to many towns that didn’t have service in the past. I have heard from happy customers in Florida and just received word that Verizon has opened up Rowe. This is good news. Lately, however, I have seen stories from people in areas that haven’t had services complaining that Verizon is rolling out DSL and not FIOS, or fiber to the home. While we all want fiber to the home, it is foolish to complain about DSL services when people have been on dial up in the past. Is it optimal? No, but it is far better than the service we have received in the past.
Electric costs. Last fall I organized a forum concerning electricity costs and capacity in Western Massachusetts. I promised to conduct follow up meetings and report back with another forum. I didn’t do so. The problem was that our meetings took several turns over the past year. The Legislature passed several bills concerning electricity and green jobs and communities. The direction we were going in after the forum has changed based on these bills. I am now talking to local groups about a follow up local agency or group to monitor our electric needs. I will have more on this in the future weeks. I am also looking at alternative energy. Within the next week or so, I will be traveling to upstate New York to look at the windmills that dot the towns of Ellensburg, Chateaugay, and Clinton. People seem to live with these in their back yards and I am interested in the prospects of wind in Western Mass.
Wall Street. While this is not a local issue, it has everyone talking about it. And it affects our budget and our ability to fund local programs. I have been watching this closely as it has several immediate effects on state government. First, a federal bailout to the tune of $700 billion will impact the ability of the next President to enact new programs or fund existing ones. We are borrowing $2 billion a week to run government now and our payment on debt service is one of the largest line items in our federal budget. We must get a handle on this if we are to stay strong and viable as a world power. Second, the Freddie Mac-Fannie Mae “takeover” by the federal government impacts state government in that it impacts capital at local banks. While our area banks are strong, some of the larger banks in the state were impacted when their investments in these organizations were devalued. We need to be aware of this and its potential impact on the business community. Third, while we could not let these large companies fail without putting our entire economy in jeopardy, we need to put systems in place in order that this not happen again. Since the financial services sector of our economy in Massachusetts is one of our strongest, we need to take care to strengthen it while not impeding its ability to grow. This is something that will take a lot of my time and attention in the committee in the coming year.
One last thought on this issue: When I was growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, our country was strong because of the American worker. We took raw materials and through hard work and innovation, we added value. For example, we took iron ore and made cars, or refrigerators. We took a wooden box and through innovation and technology built a television or radio. This “value added” made our economy run and gave us jobs that could support a family. The financial industry was important, but it was most important as a tool to finance our value added jobs. Today, many on Wall Street have decided that making money off of money is more important than the creation of goods.
It seems that new financial instruments are created that create ways to invest, but we have forgotten why we invested in the first place. We need to correct this.
Church Closings. My initial statement on this subject was simply this: Churches are important to our communities as centers for activities, charities, and socialization. If the Diocese is going to close churches, it would be a good idea to communicate with local leaders in order to plan accordingly. For example, St Francis is on one of the most visible approaches to North Adams and there are more considerations as to what happens with that building than whether it is cost effective for the church to close. I had no idea that this would be so controversial. I was scolded by some church officials for not respecting the separation of church and state. I was called by people who thought I wanted to spend state resources on keeping the churches open. However, I also received a lot of phone calls thanking me for speaking out. There are a lot of people that are very worried about their particular church.
This is a touchy issue. Here is what I know. We cannot sustain all of the churches in our area. We need to close some of them. The Bishop will be criticized regardless of which one closes. However, there may be other alternatives if we all work together and I want to explore these. I have not done so in a public manner because I am sensitive to the separation of church and state and this should not be politicized. However, I have talked to a lot of the people working to save their parishes and I have talked to the Bishop. I had a long and frank discussion in Springfield. I will continue to work with all of the groups to see what we can do to resolve these issues.
This is a long post, but there is a lot going on. I will update these and many other issues in future posts.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
As everyone knows, this is going to be a very hard winter. Oil prices have driven heating oil prices up as they have gas prices. Even though prices have fallen lately, prices are still almost double last year's price. There is no magic bullet to making this better, but there is a lot of activity on this. Our congressional delegation is making a push to double federal assistance for the Low Income Heating Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). This is the major federal program to help with heating in the winter and is the one that people go to the Community Action office to apply for. The Bush administration has not been helpful in increasing this program and some in Congress have tried to halt this increase as leverage for increased drilling rights for big oil in Alaska. I hope that our delegation is successful in getting more money for this program. I have been active in this area in the past. I have testified in Congress on this issue and have lead the Council of State Governments efforts to increase funding. It is very effective. Money is designated for each state and the money flows right through to those in need.
On the state level, we appropriated $10 million in our budget to supplement the federal efforts.
I have heard from a lot of people that are very nervous over their ability to heat their homes this winter. I have also heard from oil dealers who are paying for oil when they take delivery and then can't get paid by customers when they make home deliveries.
As I said, there is no easy answer or magic bullet to cure this problem, but there are a lot of services out there that can help. On September 3rd, I am bringing them together at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) in North Adams for a forum to provide information to people concerned about heating this winter. Community Action (BCAC) has committed to the forum as has Citizen's Energy, the Oil Heat Association of Massachusetts, the Federal Department of Energy, the state Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), our local utilities, and the Center for Ecological Technology (CET) our local energy efficiency experts. We will have the Community Coalition participating and giving us advice on their new program for energy efficiency. We hope to have more people participating and are still awaiting answers from others. We have asked everyone to bring information and brochures detailing their programs.
I am hopeful that we will be able to let everyone know of all the local options for heating assistance and develop an action plan for our area. Aside from getting information to people, I would like to explore a pre-registration system for LIHEAP. I am hoping that we can pool our resources and begin to raise more money to supplement governmental efforts. I am also hoping that we can discuss creation of a local entity patterned after the Citizen's Energy model. I am also hoping that we can duplicate this effort in the Franklin County part of my district.
Below is the press release from my office on this. I hope that the word gets out and that we can get information to as many people as possible.
Bosley Announces Heating Fuel Assistance Forum
Chairman Daniel E. Bosley announced today the news of a forum on home heating assistance to take place Wednesday, September 3, 2008, at MCLA’s Church Street Center in North Adams. The event is scheduled to run from 5:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. and will consist of several speakers from various government organizations and private companies that service the Northern Berkshire region.
“As fuel costs continue to rise and cause deep strain on family budgets across the northeast, this forum will serve to clarify the process for applying for assistance and to delineate the options each and every homeowner can take to reduce energy costs. Deadlines to apply to some programs are as early as the end of September and this event will be a great opportunity to think about winterization and the various application processes, said Bosley.”
The forum will have speakers from the respective fuel providers as well as from non-profit organizations such as the Berkshire Community Action Council, the Center for Ecological Technology, the Citizens Energy Corporation among others.
This event is open to public. If you wish to speak or provide information at a booth please register by Wednesday, August 27, 2008, by contacting Daniel Hunt via phone at (617) 722-2370 or email at Daniel.email@example.com
Friday, August 22, 2008
Representative Daniel Bosley (D-North Adams), Representative Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington), and the House of Representatives enacted An Act Relative to the Preservation of Dairy Farms today. This legislation stems from a report to the legislature from the Massachusetts Dairy Farm Revitalization Task Force. The bill is consistent with the report’s recommendations, which called for an income tax credit for farmers, the creation of a Massachusetts Dairy Promotion Board, and a linked loan program, among other programs.
“This bill is the right first step towards ensuring the economic viability of dairy farmers throughout the Commonwealth. After filing the emergency declaration and allocating $3.6 million in relief to dairy farmers last May, I am pleased that we were able to offer temporary solutions through this bill. With rising gas and feedstock prices, the cost of production is rapidly increasing and the tax credit portion is crucial because it provides relief and stability to dairy farmers and their families when they need it most” said Bosley.
The main part of the bill is a tax credit that is mirrored after similar legislation in South Carolina. The 90% refundable tax credit allows farmers to take a credit when the federal milk marketing order price for the applicable market drops below a trigger price established by the Commissioner of Agricultural Resources. The Department of Agriculture is charged with developing regulations to ensure that the cost of the tax credit to the state ranged from zero when milk prices are sufficient to cover Massachusetts farmers’ production expenses to no more than $4 million.
“This comprehensive bill provides many tools that will help our dairy farmers to be economically viable and competitive in an increasingly complex segment of our state’s agricultural economy. Our dairy farms provide thousands of acres of open space, recreational land, and water recharge areas that contribute to both our quality of life and the protection of natural resources. Additionally, a thriving dairy community is important to Massachusetts as more and more people realize the value of local foods as more being more nutritious, sustainable, and better for our environment and economy” said Kulik.
Other portions of the bill include: allowing the Department of Agricultural Resources to establish a program and regulations to permit the use of discount coupons in the sale of milk, extending from 2 to 10 miles, the span that individuals may drive farm equipment without registration, authorizing farmers who have an APR to qualify for farm viability technical assistance and implementation funding and creating a commission to study and recommend options for updating farming technology to promote energy conservation
Members of the task force from the legislature included Representative Bosley, Representative Kulik, Representative Lewis Evangelidis of Holden, Senator Stanley Rosenberg of Amherst, Senator Stephen Brewer of Barre, and Senator Michael Knapik of Westfield.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
One of my favorite places on earth is the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Ma. It has a magnificent art collection and is home to the new Stone Hill Center where exhibits of Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargeant are being showcased. The building itself is quite a site, being designed by the Japanese architect Ando. The building also houses the Williamstown Art Conservation Center. In an area like the Berkshires with so many cultural attractions, the Clark stands out as a special place that combines our cultural attractions, our sense of history through the conservation of our past art works, and our recreational and environmental beauty of the Berkshires. This picture was taken August 7, 2008 (yesterday) from the deck of the Stone Hill Center overlooking the hill down towards the main campus. This is a beautiful location that combines outstanding art with the natural beauty of the area.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Saturday, August 2, 2008
Bosley Announces End of Session Accomplishments
As the Legislative session drew to an end these past few weeks, Representative Daniel Bosley (D-North Adams) played a key role in passing major legislation through the House of Representatives that impacts both the Commonwealth as a whole and secured critical funding for Berkshire County. Down to the wire, as versions of various bond bills passed between the House and Senate, Bosley kept his district in mind as thousands of earmarks were included in these bills.
One bill that Representative Bosley has been heavily involved with is aimed at expanding broadband service throughout the Commonwealth. Currently there are 63 towns in Massachusetts where there is only partial broadband service, and 32 have no access at all. This digital divide slows and deters economic development, threatens public safety and health, hinders municipal business and restricts creativity in the classroom. The bill created the Broadband Institute and dedicated $40 million for the purposes of increasing high speed internet access to communities across the state. According to Bosley, “this is the culmination of years of work to bring up the telecommunication infrastructure up to speed in my district. Now merchants will have faster access for their electronic transactions and business owners will no longer be at a competitive disadvantage.”
Representative Bosley was also able to obtain $54.5 million for the construction of a new, free-standing Center for Life Science and Innovation building at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. As part of the science and technology upgrades to the college, the existing science rooms need to be retrofitted. The last major upgrade at MCLA was 30 years ago and this funding will go a long way to level the playing field in the Science and Technology field. Bosley said that, “this project will continue the pipeline needed to feed the growing demand in the science and technology sectors. In staying true to the Commonwealth’s renewed commitment to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), the new science center will be able to offer the next level of education for young people in the western part of the state.”
As the House Chair of the Regional Transit Authority Caucus, Bosley was integral in obtaining language to alter the funding mechanism for Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) and secured funding for two major projects in the district through the transportation bond bill.
The bill included $9 million for planning, engineering, and construction on a significant portion of Route 116 in the Town of Savoy. This road has not been repaved since 1992. “Following this winter, Route 116 was laden with potholes to the point where it was dangerous to drive on. Year after year, the town has spent tens of thousands of dollars to patch the road. I am pleased that we were able assist the town to secure funding to completely re-engineer and re-construct the road to ensure its safety for the future,” said Bosley. There was also a $750,000 earmark for the City of North Adams to resurface four major roads that lead into the city. As preparations for the Hadley Overpass Bridge are underway, this will ensure the city can offer well-maintained alternate routes when construction begins.
In addition to that, there was language included in the bill that charges the Secretary of Transportation and Public Works and the Secretary of Administration and Finance with exploring the Commonwealth’s participation in the federal Toll Credit program, a program under which states that collect tolls for the maintenance and improvement of the federal highway system are given credit for part of those expenditures. There is a mechanism which appropriates any currently unused federal dollars that the state can access through the toll credit program to be used to fund improved financial practices and accountability at the Regional Transit Authorities.
According to Bosley, “the current reimbursement funding to the RTAs is costing citizens of the Commonwealth millions of dollars in unnecessary interest charges each year. As gas prices increase, the use of public transportation has similarly seen increased ridership. The switch to forward funding will help ensure sustainable funding for RTAs and allow the Commonwealth to become more cost-effective.”
The Small Town Road Assistance Program had some language changes that are pertinent to the district. Of particular note, eligibility for the program was expanded to include communities with 7,000 or less (it is currently set at 3,500 or less). It also repeals the law that requires communities who receive STRAP grants to repay 30% of the grant within 10 years. “These changes in the STRAP program are important to my district because more communities will qualify for the program and they will no longer need to worry about the 30% repayment before applying,” said Bosley.
This past winter, Bosley served as a member of the Massachusetts Dairy Farm Revitalization Task Force. The task force produced a report at its conclusion and its recommendations, which called for an income tax credit for farmers, the creation of a Massachusetts Dairy Promotion Board, and a linked loan program, among other programs, are embodied in An Act Relative to the Preservation of Dairy Farms.
“This bill is the right first step towards ensuring the economic viability of dairy farmers throughout the Commonwealth. After filing the emergency declaration and allocating $3.6 million in relief to dairy farmers last May, I am pleased that we were able to offer longer lasting solutions through this bill. With rising gas and feedstock prices, the cost of production is rapidly increasing and the tax credit portion is crucial because it provides relief and stability to dairy farmers and their families when they need it most,” said Bosley.
The main part of the bill is a tax credit that is mirrored after similar legislation in South Carolina. The 90% refundable tax credit allows farmers to take a credit when the federal milk marketing order price for the applicable market drops below a trigger price established by the Commissioner of Agricultural Resources. The Department of Agriculture is charged with developing regulations to ensure that the cost of the tax credit to the state ranged from zero when milk prices are sufficient to cover Massachusetts farmers’ production expenses to no more than $4 million.
Other portions of the bill include: allowing the Department of Agricultural Resources to establish a program and regulations to permit the use of discount coupons in the sale of milk, extending from 2 to 10 miles, the span that individuals may drive farm equipment without registration, authorizing farmers who have an APR to qualify for farm viability technical assistance and implementation funding and creating a commission to study and recommend options for updating farming technology to promote energy conservation.
In his position as the House Chairman of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, Representative Bosley worked in tandem with House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi (D-Boston) to produce legislation focused on promoting and developing the state’s clean energy sector. The Massachusetts Clean Energy Technology Center will promote workforce training in the clean energy sector and provide support to existing clean energy companies in the Commonwealth through the establishment and administration of job growth grants.
The bill establishes two types of job growth grants to be administered by the center: the clean energy seed grant and green jobs initiative grant. The clean energy seed grant will award funding to clean energy researchers and companies, non-profit and community-based organizations that seek to expand their organization and grow jobs. The green jobs grant initiative will award funding to higher education institutions and vocational technical schools to facilitate workforce development efforts.
"This Green Jobs bill will create the workforce and develop the industry needed to service this demand. It's going to put thousands of people to work throughout the entire state and create sustainable economic development in an industry that has great potential for the Commonwealth,” said Bosley.
The bill is revenue neutral. Under the bill, $43 million from the Massachusetts Alternative and Clean Energy Investment Trust Fund and $5 million from the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust Fund will be transferred to the center to administer grants and facilitate economic growth. In the FY ’09 budget, $3.95 million was allocated to fund a clean energy industry study, operations at the center, and three different green job programs that will be administered by the Secretary of Environmental Affairs, including Senator Benjamin B. Downing’s (D-Pittsfield) “pathways out of poverty” workforce development grant to train low and moderate income individuals for jobs in the clean energy sector.
One of Representative Bosley’s bills that passed through the legislature this session was a bill that establishes a Creative Economy Council within the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. The council will be tasked with formulating statewide strategies to enhance, encourage, and develop the creative economy in the Commonwealth.
“Coupled with the state’s existing creative economy sector, this council will help to create a comprehensive and sustainable infrastructure to cultivate a real strength of the Commonwealth.” Bosley said. “Many local artists, collaboratives, and organizations throughout the state are looking for ways to expand their businesses. By helping them accomplish this goal, we are creating more jobs, diversifying our state’s economy, and bolstering our tourism industry.”
The creative economy has also become a significant outlet for students graduating with art, design, and music degrees from colleges and universities throughout Massachusetts. With a culturally rich district, Bosley appreciates and acknowledges the impact this sector has on the economy.
In the environmental bond bill, Representative Bosley maintained two earmarks that preserve and expand on the pristine landscape of the Berkshires. One of them was $600,000 for the study, preliminary design, site preparation and associated costs of the Greylock Glen Environmental Center in the town of Adams. “I am grateful that we were able to assist the Greylock Glen project with this funding. Recently, the entire project has been moving forward and funds for the study will only serve to expedite this ongoing process.” In addition to that, $3.35 million was earmarked for phase II inspections and emergency repairs to the Notch reservoir and Mount Williams Reservoir Dams in the city of North Adams.
Upon enactment by both branches, these bills will be laid before the Governor to be signed into law.
In addition to this press release, I am very pleased that $50 million was included in the general bond issue for the cultural facilities fund that I created in the 2006 economic stimulus bill to fund the next few years repairs of our facilities around the Commonwealth and $10 million was kept in a fuel assistance fund. More on my plans to help people in the district this winter in an upcoming post.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
More on the district in a future post, but with two weeks left in the session, I have a full list of things that I need to get done. We are close but need to get the broadband bill, to bring service out to unserved areas in Western Massachusetts, finalized and passed. We need to complete the work on the the dairy stabilization bill that so many rural Legislators worked on. I have passed the Creative Economic Council bill in the House and would like to see action in the Senate. I have a few local bills such as an expansion of the Adams Fire District and completing the land transfer for the North Adams Armory to the City of North Adams. I am still hopeful for some movement on an Optometry bill that I have filed for years.
I have a bill to create a creative index for our schools to spread best practices at challenging our school kids to be more innovative and creative. We are hopeful of finalizing in committee and then passing the Green Jobs bill filed by the Speaker of the House. We have several capital bond issues that have important initiatives or projects for my district. For example, the science building at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams is in the higher ed bond bill. There is money to refinish Rt.116 in the town of Savoy in the transportation bond. As co-chair of the regional transportation caucus, I would like to see forward funding passed for the RTA's. As a member of the IT advisory board, I am interested in the bond to modernize our state IT system. That is a pretty daunting list and I know that there is more
There are other bills that I think are important to finish before the end of the year such as the health care cost containment bill that the Senate President filed. This is a very good bill and contains initiatives on e-health management which is something I have written about for a number of years. And of course, there are a number of budget vetoes that I feel we should override. These are small local earmarks that are important for my district. I think of these as additional local aid that gives a boost to local initiatives that would not be funded if they weren't included as earmarks, yet are so important to our districts.
So we have two weeks in which to accomplish this. I will let you know at the end of the session on our success in getting this list done.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
The following is an amalgam of the press releases sent out concerning the fiscal year 2009 budget and its impact on the district. This was a pretty good year for Western Mass and I am happy with the various programs that we were able to bring back to our area. I took the lead on some of this, but on the ones where the lead sponsor is named, you can bet they did a lot of heavy lifting on these and deserve the credit. We are fortunate to have a great group of Legislators from Western Massachusetts that work very hard for their constituents and we work well as a group.
With the conclusion of the Conference Committee late Thursday evening, State Representative Daniel E. Bosley (D – North Adams) commented on the FY 2009 spending plan, saying; “This has been a very tough budget process due to a billion dollar deficit from the beginning. Fortunately, through diligence these past few months, we were able to secure funding for many programs in the 1st Berkshire District and across the Commonwealth that are vital to the prosperity and economic development of the state.”
The City of North Adams received an earmark of $150,000 for the North Adams Armory. This funding will be used to replace the deteriorating heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system and offers the final touch to the other construction work that has been recently been performed on the building.
Another significant success for the entire Berkshire Delegation was $400,000 for the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition for teen pregnancy prevention programs, of which $250,000 is to be allocated equally to school systems in the cities of North Adams and Pittsfield. “With increasing rates of teen pregnancy across the Commonwealth, it is imperative that the Coalition continue receiving funds to implement and expand their teen pregnancy preventions programs in the Berkshires,” said Bosley.
The Councils on Aging received a $73,000 boost to its overall budget, which is now capped at $8,615,068. As the lead sponsor of this amendment during the initial House budget debate, Representative Bosley was instrumental in securing this funding increase and made a passionate speech on the house floor during the debate. This allotment allows the formula grant to increase from $6.50 per elder to $7 per elder, which is significant considering that it is a tight budget year and the COA has been advocating for this increase for the past two budgets.
In addition to that, Representative Bosley, the House Chair of the Regional Transit Authorities Caucus, alongside the entire western Massachusetts delegation, secured $57,888,391 for RTAs across the Commonwealth, a $2.6 million increase from FY ’08. This funding would ensure that proposed service reductions that threaten to affect consistent transportation and will allow RTAs to provide quality, reliable and cost-effective service for seniors, workers, the disabled and the general public.
In addition to that, $50,000 was earmarked for public safety on the Deerfield and Upper Connecticut River. The main intent of this earmark is to protect property owners along the river in the Town of Charlemont. With two major rafting companies and multiple places to launch a raft or tube, there have been issues of trespassing and property damage to those who reside on the river. These funds will be used in conjunction with the Charlemont Police Department.
Representative Bosley, working with members of the Aviation Caucus, was able to assure that the budget language repealing the aircraft sales tax exemption was not included in the final conference committee budget. Bosley was the original sponsor of the legislation establishing the exemption. The exemption has been a catalyst for economic development throughout the state and is especially important for Harriman And West Airport in North Adams and the related companies and jobs that support it.
Finally, through the efforts of the Berkshire Delegation, the Berkshire Economic Development Corporation received $250,000 to continue leading the Berkshire region in economic development initiatives as a vital tool for small businesses inquiring about expansion, relocation or start-up.
According to Bosley, “considering the projected economic recession looming for the next few years, this was a particularly tight budget year for the Commonwealth. In spite of this, Berkshire County faired well and I am pleased that many programs received level or increased funding.”
In addition to those achievements, Representative Bosley and the other members of the Berkshire delegation – Representative Smitty Pignatelli (D-Lenox), Representative Denis Guyer (D-Dalton) and Representative Chris Speranzo (D-Pittsfield) - were able to secure funding for the following local and statewide programs that directly affect the Berkshires:
· Rep. Bosley was able to secure $42,000 to help fund the Turner House Living Center For Veterans in Williamstown
· Rep. Bosley was able to secure $200,000 for the Western MA Enterprise Fund to provide workforce training in Western MA
· Rep. Bosley was able to secure $30,101,348 for Adult Basic Education, an increase of $1,000,000 from FY ’08
· Rep. Bosley was able to secure $200,000 for the Bay State Games which is crucial funding for the annual events held in Williamstown and North Berkshire County
· Rep. Bosley was able to secure $200,000 for the North Quabbin Community Coalition for the support and implementation of four model community coalitions and community capacity building activities, of which the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition is involved.
· Rep. Bosley was able to secure $200,000 for the Small Business Association of New England’s layoff aversion program
· Rep. Bosley was able to secure $1,260,697 for the Small Business Technical Assistance program, which offers community development organizations grants to provide technical assistance or training programs to businesses with 20 employees or fewer
· Rep. Bosley was able to secure $14,465,462 for the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, an increase of $564,462 from FY ’08. In that amount, a total of $350,000 is for the Berkshire Wireless Learning Initiative, and of that, $100,000 is allocated for the Berkshire Compact, which assesses and evaluates the higher education resources available to Berkshire County residents
· The Berkshire Delegation was able to secure $9,456,459 for Berkshire Community College, an increase of $295,520 from FY’08
· Rep. Bosley was able to secure $6.5 million for the Cultural Facilities Fund, which provides capital grants and feasibility and technical assistance grants to promote the acquisition, design, repair, rehabilitation, renovation, expansion, or construction of nonprofit cultural facilities in Massachusetts. Since its inception in 2006, many cultural organizations in the Berkshires have been fortunate to receive grants from the program.
· The Berkshire Delegation was able to secure $75,000 for the Berkshire County Housing Authority’s Housing Services and Mediation Program
· Working with the lead sponsor, Represenative Guyer, $61,300,000 was secured for regional school transportation, an increase of $3,000,000 from FY ’08
In addition to those achievements, Representative Bosley worked alongside the entire Franklin County Delegation to secure funding for other important local and statewide programs, including:
· The Franklin County Delegation was able to secure $200,000 for the Western MA Enterprise Fund to provide workforce training in Western MA
· Working with the lead sponsor, Representative Kulik, $200,000 was secured for Buy Local programs across the Commonwealth
· Working with the lead sponsor, Representative Kulik, $50,000 was secured for the Senior Farm Share Program
· The Franklin County Delegation was able to secure $5,500,000 for the Education Pothole account to fill in inadequacies in the budget
The final Conference Committee Report will be sent to the Governor.