Column: Priorities for the New Legislative Session
Earlier this month I was honored to be sworn in as State Senator for the 2017-2018 legislative session. I’m eager to continue my advocacy on behalf of the residents of Malden, Melrose, Reading, Stoneham, Wakefield, and Winchester.
I believe that our communities are best served when our state lawmakers work in close partnership with residents, local businesses, community leaders, and local elected officials. Working together, we have been able to advance a number of important priorities to help strengthen our communities, and these efforts will serve as the foundation of my agenda for the new legislative session.
My first priority will continue to be promoting local economic development opportunities and securing resources for important needs in our communities. When the legislature tackles the state budget in the months ahead, I will focus on advocating for critical resources for our communities, including funding for our schools, local aid, elder services, veterans programs, healthcare, affordable housing, and other essential programs and services upon which our communities depend. I will also continue to focus on investments in local infrastructure and the revitalization of our downtown business districts, working collaboratively with our municipal leaders to address needs in these areas.
Another top priority will be pushing to implement the recommendations of the Chapter 70 Foundation Budget Review Commission. This bipartisan commission was created as a result of legislation I filed several years ago, and its recommendations are critical to updating and reforming the Massachusetts school funding formula. Our schools are struggling with rising healthcare, special education, and technology costs, and we must ensure that all our public schools receive adequate and equitable state funding to help meet these challenges.
Healthcare will continue to be a signature agenda item for me during this new legislative session. Our focus is on improving health and containing healthcare costs by strengthening prevention and public health efforts, reducing rates of preventable chronic diseases, and increasing funding for mental health and substance abuse treatment and recovery. We are facing great uncertainty regarding healthcare policy in Washington given the new administration and Congress, and we will need to be prepared to take action at the state level to protect access to high quality, affordable healthcare for all residents of Massachusetts.
Other key issues that I will focus on include: improving MBTA and commuter rail service; building on our past efforts to fight climate change and promote clean energy jobs and economic growth; and championing policies that can help poor and working families, such as paid family and medical leave and job training.
Your input and feedback are always encouraged. Please contact me anytime at (617) 722-1206 or Jason.Lewis@masenate.gov, visit us at the State House, or stop by Office Hours which we hold monthly across the district (you can find the schedule at www.SenatorJasonLewis.com). My staff and I will always be available to offer our assistance in any way we can.
I look forward to continuing our work together to strengthen our communities and our Commonwealth in the months and years ahead.