State Rep. Miceli, Ways and Means Hear Final Budget Testimony, Begin to Firm Budget Proposals

EVERETT, MA — Following two final panels of major players, including economic development Secretary Jay Ash, a panel from the Executive Office of Education, and numerous undersecretaries Representative Miceli and the Committee on Ways and Means finished a series of state-wide hearings soliciting input from state agencies and the public on the upcoming budget. The final two meetings held this week signaled the conclusion of a long series, bringing numerous legislators to municipalities across the Commonwealth, including Worcester, Boston, Peabody, and Everett.

“The budget process is an extremely important piece of effective state government, and I look forward to hearing insight from those who make our various agencies, schools, and social services run each and every day” said Representative Miceli. “The folks who are ‘out in the field’ making this happen often have great ideas to improve efficiency and allocation, or might have a new approach to an old problem. In addition to hearing and holding people accountable for progress, these meetings are always a great experience to reflect on making things better.”

Monday’s testimony brought a wide range of commentary on all educational matters, ranging from pre-school issues to the status of doctoral programs offered through the University of Massachusetts system. Testimony included input from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, various university presidents, and even Peabody Public Schools Superintendent Hebert Levine. Highlights included the success of the early childhood education initiatives undertaken over the past years, where young students began learning language skills, basic math, and more, allowing them to receive a “head start” relative to the rest of the nation and world. Several officials also made sure to point out the success of the state’s education system, noting that the state tied for first place with seven other nations for reading comprehension, and came second to only Singapore for Science and Math performance.

“I was particularly interested in two major issues that impact both Tewksbury and Wilmington’s educational quality — the status of the special education circuit breaker funding and state-aid per student. These two accounts help our public schools, and I believe are part of the reason why Massachusetts is always the best in the nation, along with having great teachers.” Said Representative Miceli. “Both school boards reached out to me in regards to this funding, which I reached out directly to the Governor on.”

Tuesday’s testimony focused on the economic state of the Commonwealth, including addressing a reported shortfall in skilled hand-on workers, as well as potential private business development. Officials from both the legislature and the Executive Office of Economic Development pointed out the state has surpassed the nation consistently for growth, with the state growing by 3% last quarter and 5.6% before, well above the national average. Discussion also centered around attracting workers to Massachusetts, who were attracted by competitive salaries, safe neighborhoods, and good schools for their family, sending housing demand skyrocketing. Legislature’s particularly noted successful development of mixed-used development in certain communities, were economic development appeared to be more robust compared to traditional zoning policies.

“Secretary Ash and the other agency members certainly gave me much to think about in the coming weeks as we meet to discuss the budget” said Representative Miceli. “With quality residents and employees, it is no wonder companies like GE and Amazon look at Massachusetts. What we need to do is welcome such opportunities in a way that benefits everyone, and plans for the future.”

Over the next several weeks the Ways and Means Committee will meet to finalize a budget proposal to be voted on before the House, before being combined jointly with a Senate proposal. Upon review by the Governor, the FY19 budget will be finalized by both chambers of the legislature before funding is dispersed.

Miceli Ways & Means
State Rep. Jim Miceli with his colleagues at the latest state-wide hearing on the state budget.

(NOTE: The above press release is from State Rep. Miceli’s Office.)

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