State Representative Dave Rogers

Updates

 

FY 2015 House Budget: Local Aid


The local aid numbers for communities in Massachusetts have been finalized by way of a joint House and Senate resolution. Here are the changes between the FY 2014 Final Budget and the initial House Budget Proposal:
 
Town Belmont Arlington Cambridge
Unrestricted General Government Aid, % Increase Between FY2014 Final Budget and FY2015 Ways and Means Approximately
2.77%
Approximately
2.77%
Approximately
2.77%
Chapter 70, % Increase Between FY2014 Final Budget and FY2015 Ways and Means Approximately
9.47%
Approximately
1.85%
Approximately
16.12%
 
In addition to this local aid, the House and Senate have also authorized $300 million in bonds for Chapter 90 local aid for roads and bridges. The Legislature authorized the same amount last year, but citing an insufficient transportation revenue package Governor Patrick opted to release only $200 million. It remains to be seen what will happen with this money in FY2015, though it is reasonable to expect at least $200 million to be released.
 

FY 2015 House Budget: My Priorities


In the midst of so many amendments, the budget process affords Representatives an opportunity to advocate for areas they see as priorities. Although the amendment process does not shape the fundamental balance of the budget, it can shift emphasis to certain areas. Of course my top priority is local aid and amendments for projects specific to the 24th Middlesex District. The House budget increases Chapter 70 Local Aid for education by $100 million and Unrestricted General Government Aid by $25 million. Additionally I have highlighted other areas as my top priorities this session, namely funding for services for homeless individuals and Department of Environmental Protection administrative funding.
 
DEP administrative funding has yet to recover from deep cuts suffered during the Great Recession. Despite an increase in the FY2013 budget, DEP administrative funding remains almost 20% below FY2008 levels and that’s before adjusting for inflation. These losses have been compounded by decreases in federal funding, particularly the termination of several grants caused by “sequestration” in 2013. While fulfilling a broad mandate to protect our land, water, air, and health, DEP staff levels have dipped as low as 30% of optimal levels from over 1200 employees to fewer than 800. Even core programs cannot be properly implemented with these resources. 

That Massachusetts still hosts great numbers of homeless individuals is a sad reality. Studies, meanwhile, show that housing is the fundamental unit when trying to deliver services and help get people back on track. Many shelters that work with homeless individuals have therefore designated some of their beds as “permanent,” allowing repeat visitors to stay long term and providing a place for them to receive services. I am advocating to increase the bed rate at which shelters are compensated by the state from $25 per night to $32 per night, which would allow shelters to house more homeless individuals. Beyond being humane and the right thing to do, helping homeless individuals back on their feet results in savings throughout the system by way of reducing the uses of expensive services like emergency room visits.
 

FY2015 House Budget: General Highlights


The budget process is a massive legislative undertaking. At $36.182 billion, the initial House budget makes a number of strong investments and marks a 5% increase over FY2014 final budget. The House budget proposal:
  • Invests an additional $61 million in public higher education, once again ensuring that tuitions will not rise in FY 2015
  • Increases funding for programs for elders by $19.1 million
  • Increases funding for childhood and adult mental services by $9.6 million
  • Increases funding for substance abuse programs and services by $6.3 million
  • Closes the MBTA and MassDOT operating gaps.
  • Funds 8 new specialty courts (5 drug, 2 mental health, and 1 veterans’), taking yet another step towards reforming our criminal justice system.
In addition to determining how the Commonwealth spends its budget, the budget has also become a yearly vehicle for legislation. Advocates for every issue area push not just for more funding, but also for the inclusion of “outside sections” to the budget that make changes to the General Laws. The result is a budget with 1175 amendments filed. Many will be withdrawn and only some of the remaining amendments make it into the final House budget. After their inclusion in the document, these changes must, along with the House budget, endure a conference committee negotiation between House and Senate members. Outside sections feature legislation to curb substance abuse, support the Department of Children and Families, reform IT services in the Commonwealth, and improve government efficiencies and oversight.
 

House Passes Domestic Violence Legislation


DOMESTIC VIOLENCE BILL: On April 9th, I joined with my colleagues in the House to unanimously pass a substantial piece of domestic violence legislation. Offered personally by Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, the bill makes a number of updates to MA domestic violence law. Some of the major highlights include:
  • Abolishment of accord and satisfaction in domestic violence cases
  • Standardization and sharing of records across jurisdictions to ensure that decision-makers have complete, to-date information
  • Grants employment leave for domestic violence victims
  • Delaying bail for domestic violence offenders so as to protect victims
  • Establishing the new crimes of 1) domestic assault or domestic assault and battery near a courthouse and 2) domestic assault or domestic assault and battery with the intent to intimidate or prevent access to courts
I was proud to sign this legislation to protect domestic violence victims, punish offenders, and hopefully forestall future abuse.

Community Events

TONIGHT: Arlington Democratic Candidates Forum

Join the Arlington Democratic Town Committee and State Senator Ken Donnelly at a forum to meet candidates for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and Treasurer. Light refreshments will be served. The event will be held TONIGHT, April 29th from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Arlington Senior Center (27 Maple Street).

Cambridge-Somerville for Change
Gubernatorial Candidates Forum

Come to a gubernatorial forum to hear each candidate take half an hour to respond to questions from Progressive Massachusetts and the audience. Candidates will speak in succession and will each have 30 minutes. The schedule is: 3:30 Don Berwick, 4:00 Martha Coakley, 4:30 Steve Grossman, 5:00 Juliette Kayyem, and 5:30 Evan Falchuk. The forum will be held at the Microsoft NERD Center, 1 Memorial Dr. 1st Floor, Cambridge, MA 02142 on May 3rd.

31st Annual MayFair in Harvard Square

Come to Harvard Square for the 31st annual MayFair to celebrate and enjoy springtime! On March 4th from noon to 6:00 p.m. artists, musicians, dancers, food, crafts, beer gardens, and other entertainment will fill Harvard Square along with the people of Cambridge. As always, the event will be an afternoon to enjoy the nice weather and Cambridge’s vibrant community.

Belmont Against Racism Event

On May 8th, Belmont Against Racism will host a book discussion of The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. The discussion will be held at 7:00 p.m. at the Assembly Room of the Belmont Public Library. 336 Concord Ave.

Sustainable Belmont Meeting

Sustainable Belmont will be meeting at 7:00 p.m. on May 8th at The Flett Room of the Belmont Public Library, 336 Concord Ave, to have their monthly meeting. The agenda features plans for Town Day, progress updates on the Green Communities application, the investigation into the potential Belmont Solar Challenge, and planning for the coming academic year.

Arlington Recycle Day: Bicycles

Have an old bike you no longer want or need? Bikes Not Bombs, a Jamaica Plains-based organization, is coming to Arlington to accept donations! A collection will happen on May 10th from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Arlington Department of Public Works, 51 Grove Street, Arlington. Bikes Not Bombs takes donated bikes, cleans and refurbishes them, and uses them as part of economic development projects overseas. Bikes that are not sent abroad are likely to find themselves part of youth programs teaching bike safety and mechanics and resulting in bike ownership for participants.

A-B-C Stormwater Flooding Board Public Hearing

The Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs will be holding a public hearing on the proposed extension of the joint powers agreement of the A-B-C (Arlington-Belmont-Cambridge) Stormwater Flooding Board. The hearing will be on Thursday May 15th from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Belmont Town Hall (455 Concord Avenue), at which time oral testimony will be heard. Written testimony will be accepted until 3:00 p.m. on Thursday May 15th and can be submitted via email to john.clarkeson@state.ma.us or mailed to: John Clarkeson, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, 100 Cambridge Street – Suite 900, Boston, MA 02114.
 

May Office Hours


I will hold office hours at the following times and places in the month of May. I encourage you all to stop by and speak with me about any concerns or to offer any input you might have.

Tuesday, May 6th at the Beech Street Center in Belmont from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. (266 Beech Street, Belmont, MA  02478).

Tuesday, May 13th at Kickstand Cafe in Arlington from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. (594 Mass Ave, Arlington, MA  02476)

Saturday, May 24th at Singa Bella Cafe in Cambridge from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. (2401 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA  02140). 

Saturday, May 24th at the Sweet Peach Diner from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. (628 Trapelo Road, Belmont, MA  02478)

18th Annual Mystic River Herring Run and Paddle

On May 18th, the Mystic River Watershed Association will host the 18th annual Mystic River Herring Run and Paddle. The event features a 5K race, three paddling races (3, 9, and 12 miles), educational booths, children’s activities, and more. All events are run out of the Blessing of the Bay Boathouse at 32 Shore Drive in Somerville. Come out for a day of fun to support an organization doing crucial work to protect and heal the Mystic River and its watershed.

Belmont Stormwater Working Group Meeting

Belmont’s Stormwater Working Group will have its next meeting on May 22nd at 7:00 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Belmont Public Library, and will focus primarily on the group’s efforts to improve storm water management in Belmont by way of green options. Additionally, the Stormwater Working Group is working to help put together resources for homeowners to take independent actions to make their home green like this information about permeable driveways.

Belmont to Hold Gun Buyback Event

On May 31st the Belmont Police Department, the Belmont Religious Council, The Middlesex County Sherriff’s Office, and  seven individual Belmont houses of worship will join together to host a gun buyback from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the DPW Yard, 37 C Street in Belmont. The event will be a no questions asked, no identification needed opportunity for Belmont residents to dispose of unwanted firearms and ammunition. Guns must be unloaded with the safety on and must be in a bag, box, or case. Amnesty will be extended for gun law violations involving the transport of firearms for those en route to the gun buyback locations.
 

Contact Me


I welcome your input and hope to hear from you on issues of mutual concern. Email: rep.dave.rogers@gmail.com. State House office phone: 617-722-2400. Personal cell phone: 617-817-9395. Website: repdaverogers.com.
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