Governor Baker Signs 2015 Sales Tax Holiday Legislation
In a press conference at the State House, Governor Charlie Baker signed Massachusetts’ sales tax holiday weekend for 2015 into law. Surrounded by members of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, Governor Baker spoke about relief for consumers and increased sales for retailers through the suspension of the state’s 6.25% sales tax for the weekend of August 15th and 16th.
“The sales tax holiday gives consumers a much needed break while bolstering business across the Commonwealth for our hardworking retailers,” said Governor Baker. “We appreciate the legislature’s work on this important weekend that many people look forward to each year and encourage the Commonwealth to shop local and enjoy this opportunity to make purchases tax free.”;
“A tax free weekend is a great chance to support our local businesses and save a few extra dollars, and we thank the legislature for their efforts to deliver this opportunity once again,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “We encourage folks to mark their calendar and help boost business in our state to support our economy.”;
“The Sales Tax Holiday has become an annual event that everyone looks forward to,” said Jon Hurst, President of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts. "It's a proven winner, incentivizing shoppers to invest back into our local economy, while allowing Massachusetts businesses to recapture more than $168 million in sales otherwise headed to nearby states or online. And consumers get a few dollars back in their pockets, too.”
BAKER-POLITO ADMINISTRATION AWARDS $13.4 MILLION IN GRANTS TO COMMUNITIES FOR FAMILY SUPPORT AND EARLY LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES FOR CHILDREN
The Baker-Polito Administration today announced $13.4 million in grant awards to 89 cities and towns to provide supports to families with young children from birth to age eight. The Coordinated Family and Community Engagement (CFCE) grants promote the early learning and healthy development of young children through parent/child literacy playgroups, family support programs, and professional development for educators.
"The Coordinated Family and Community Engagement networks play a critical role in helping to provide a continuum of learning that gives children a strong foundation for academic success, which has enormous value for families, communities and the Commonwealth as a whole," said Governor Baker.
"These grants help communities provide important resources to families that support their young children's early learning and development, including literacy playgroups, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) activities, art and music education, and family support groups," said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito
The 89 Coordinated Family and Community Engagement networks across the state provide beneficial early learning opportunities for young children accompanied by their parents or families in community-based settings such as libraries, museums, adult education centers, homeless shelters, and public schools. The CFCE networks also provide programming for parents and families that increases their capacity to support their children's learning and development, and helps their children transition to kindergarten or elementary education.
“Engaging families across the Commonwealth in their children's early learning is a key strategy to ensuring that Massachusetts' next generation has a solid foundation for success,” said Department of Early Education and Care Commissioner Tom Weber. “These grants support families across Massachusetts by providing access to high-quality early education opportunities.”
The CFCE networks support families in increasing their knowledge of, and accessibility to, high-quality early education and care programs and services, through direct services and referrals to a range of local resources including early childhood special education and early intervention. In 2014, the CFCE networks served more than 100,000 families across the Commonwealth.
For the directory of CFCE networks by location visit EEC's website
In addition, many of the CFCE's offerings are posted on the Brain Building in Progress campaign's calendar of activities
For the list of grantees and award amounts please refer to the document included with this press release
Baker-Polito Administration Files Solar Legislation to Raise Net Metering Caps, Continue Industry Growth
Proposal Seeks to Achieve Cost Savings for Ratepayers, Promote Solar Development
In an effort to expand upon the success and continued growth of Massachusetts’ solar industry, the Baker-Polito Administration filed legislation to establish a long term, market-predictable, sustainable framework for further solar development in the Commonwealth. The proposal seeks to achieve the administration’s goals of reducing costs to ratepayers while strengthening the clean energy economy in Massachusetts and meeting greenhouse gas emissions reduction requirements set forth under the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA).
“Massachusetts continues to boast a nation-leading solar industry, and this legislation will build upon that continued success while ensuring that our state’s solar market remains viable and sustainable for years to come,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “In filing this bill, our administration reaffirms our commitment to diversifying the Commonwealth’s energy portfolio, reducing our carbon footprint, and protecting ratepayers.”;
“By addressing net-metering caps in the short and long term, this legislation provides the framework necessary to achieve the Commonwealth’s goal of 1,600 megawatts by 2020 and beyond,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “The Baker-Polito Administration remains committed to lowering the costs of large solar projects across the state, while continuing to encourage the development of rooftop solar growth by excluding residential and small business programs from net metering caps.”;
An Act relative to a long-term, sustainable solar industry, filed in the House of Representatives, maintains strong support for solar generation in the Commonwealth by raising the private and public net metering caps two percent each, to six and seven percent, respectively. The enhancement of cap space represents a 50% increase for public entities, and a 40% increase for private entities, in the allowable amount of solar energy available for net metering credits. This increase will provide immediate support for projects being developed in service territories where the caps have already been reached, and provides the Department of Public Utilities with the authority to raise the caps further, as needed in the future. Additionally, this framework will work to bolster the ability of the Commonwealth to meet the 2020 target of 1,600 megawatts of solar development, well ahead of schedule.
Hitting the net metering cap does not prevent an entity from choosing to install solar generation and selling energy and renewable energy certificates from the project into the market. However, the proposed cap increase will provide an additional revenue stream to many solar projects that allows the Massachusetts solar industry to advance at a faster pace towards the 1,600 megawatt goal.
To facilitate further growth, the legislation also provides for the development of a program to support solar development beyond 1,600 megawatts at a reasonable cost to ratepayers while promoting equitable access to solar energy. Furthermore, the plan filed today ensures that the costs of the program are shared collectively among all ratepayers of the distribution companies.
“This bill will support the continued growth of the Massachusetts solar industry to our goal of 1,600 megawatts and beyond,” said Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Judith Judson. “The proposal will ensure that solar continues to thrive in the Commonwealth at a reasonable cost to ratepayers, while helping to grow the economy and meet environmental objectives. The Department of Energy Resources looks forward to working with the stakeholder community to make sure Massachusetts continues to be a leader in clean energy.”;
The legislation filed today recognizes the growth and maturity of the state’s solar industry and works to achieve cost-savings by creating a market-based net metering credit for installations developed after the 1,600 megawatt goal is reached, at a reasonable cost to ratepayers. Furthermore, this proposal leverages the federal Solar Investment Tax Credit to the maximum extent before their expiration date on December 31, 2016. Beyond the 1,600 megawatt goal, the legislation provides for a slightly higher credit value for solar installations developed by government entities, municipalities, low income ratepayers, and community shared net metering projects, as the net metering credits for these customers will be at the higher level of the basic service price. Net metering for residential and small business rooftop installations would remain unchanged for projects that are 10 kilowatts and 25 kilowatts, respectively.
Solar legislation is the Baker-Polito Administration’s most recent effort to ensure Massachusetts’ diversified energy approach. Last month, the Administration filed legislation to diversify the state’s energy portfolio through the procurement of cost-effective, hydropower generation.
Governor Baker, Lt. Governor Polito to Take ALS Ice Bucket Challenge with Pete Frates and Family
On Monday, Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito will be joined by Pete Frates and his family to take the ALS “Every August Until a Cure” Ice Bucket Challenge at the State House. Members of the Baker-Polito Administration, Treasurer Goldberg, Auditor Bump and members of the legislature will also participate to raise awareness and support a cure for ALS.
“Last summer, Pete Frates inspired millions of people around the country and the worldincluding Lauren and Ito participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness and critical ALS research funding,” said Governor Baker. “It is our pleasure to host Pete and his family at the State House on Monday as we continue to fight for a cure.”;
“The Ice Bucket Challenge was contagious last summer and has successfully turned into a worldwide campaign to ‘strike out ALS,’” said Lt. Governor Polito. “I look forward to participating in my second challenge and helping the Frates family in their efforts.”;
“Our family wants to thank Governor Baker, Lt. Governor Polito, and all participants for publicly taking part in this year’s ‘Every August Until A Care’ Ice Bucket Challenge,” said John Frates. “We were overwhelmed with the support we received last summer, and will continue fighting to increase awareness and find a cure for ALS.”;
Now in its second year, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was co-founded by Pete Frates, Pat Quinn and Anthony Senerchia to raise awareness for the progressive neurodegenerative disease and funds to support research towards a cure. Last year, more than 17 million ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos were posted online and over $220 million was raised globally.
An invitation has been extended to all State House employees to participate in the event.
Monday, August 10, 2015:
Who: Baker-Polito Administration, Treasurer Goldberg, Auditor Bump, Members of the Legislature and Frates Family
What: ALS “Every August Until a Cure”; Ice Bucket Challenge
Where: State House Steps
Press: Open. Press should enter the well at the bottom of the staircase and must present a valid press credential to gain access to the steps.
Governor Baker Grants $6.3 Million for High Quality Pre-Kindergarten Programs
Governor Charlie Baker today announced $6.3 million in grant awards to support high quality preschool environments for children through the state's Universal Pre-Kindergarten program.
The Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) grant supports early education and care programs in building capacity to provide high-quality preschool environments that promote young children's school readiness and positive outcomes.
“With these grants, we are pleased to help over 500 Pre-Kindergarten childcare centers and public schools sustain a high level of quality across the commonwealth,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We are proud to provide their programs with this support leading to better outcomes for children.”;
The UPK grant funds will support Pre-Kindergarten classroom enhancements such as purchasing new curriculum and materials, hiring additional staff to reduce class size, using formative assessment to individualize instruction, and providing comprehensive services to meet a range of children's needs including transition to Kindergarten. The UPK grant funds will also support better compensation for educators and increased professional development opportunities.
"Providing access to high-quality preschool provides children with a solid foundation for learning and success, helps to strengthen our communities, and supports our state's collective future prosperity," said Early Education and Care Commissioner Tom Weber. "These grants advance our progress in making high-quality early education accessible to all families in the Commonwealth."
The Department of Early Education and Care awarded 117 grants that will support nearly 8,000 children in over 500 Pre-Kindergarten classrooms across the state. Award amounts ranged from approximately $10,000 to $20,000 per classroom and will benefit children and educators in family child care, group child care, Head Start and public school settings.
Governor Baker Highlights Record $11.5 Million for YouthWorks Summer Jobs Program
Program provides over 4,000 teenagers invaluable work experience in public, private, non-profit sectors
Highlighting the importance of early work experience and its correlation to long-term career success, Gov. Charlie Baker today met with nearly 100 young people benefitting from the Commonwealth’s YouthWorks summer jobs program.
Approximately 4,000 teenagers across the Commonwealth are participating in the YouthWorks program this summer, which provides summer jobs in the public, non-profit and private sectors to lower-income young people ages 14 to 21.
YouthWorks is a state-funded program administered by Commonwealth Corporation a quasi-public state agency on behalf of the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. The Fiscal Year 2016 budget signed by Governor Baker earlier this month allocated $11.5 million to YouthWorks the highest amount ever for the program for next summer’s programming.
Massachusetts is one of the only states in the nation to invest in state-funded early work experiences and work-readiness programs for low-income young people.
Since 2007, more than 33,000 young people have been employed through YouthWorks.
Gov. Baker on Thursday visited a neighborhood center in Mattapan operated by Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) one of the non-profit organizations that facilitates the YouthWorks jobs program.
“With YouthWorks, we are aligning what employers tell us they need in future workers with experience, education and skill-building programs,” Governor Baker said. “We need to replicate what works and do more of it so young men and women can find a path that leads them to a job and ultimately a career.”
Governor Baker was joined by Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Ronald Walker, II, and Boston Red Sox’s Chief Operating Officer Sam Kennedy, along with Boston Police Superintendent William Gross. The Boston Police Department employs approximately 60 teenagers every summer.
“Companies tell us again and again they cannot find enough skilled workers to fill available jobs,” Secretary Walker said. “By supporting young people in acquiring the skills they need to enter and be successful in the workforce, we’re also meeting the needs of businesses for a pipeline of skilled workers.”
“We are tremendously grateful to Governor Baker and our state legislators for their support of state funding for youth summer jobs, including expanded funding for next summer,” said John Drew, president and chief executive officer of ABCD. “That increase is a critical step in serving the needs of thousands of Boston teens from low-income families who are eager to work, learn and succeed.”
ABCD, through its SummerWorks program, partnered with 250 employers to provide 1,050 Boston teens jobs this summer. The young people are working in museums, health centers, and day camps, among other places. The Boston Police Department employs young people every year, offering teenagers mentorship and class discussions in order to strengthen relationships between inner-city teens and police.
The rigors of the program were raised this year with new requirements aimed at ensuring teens leave with a plan to help them find their next job in the private sector. Young people who get jobs this summer must have a résumé, and a portfolio describing the skills they earned when they finish working.
They must also participate in “Signal Success,” a new hands-on work readiness education program overseen by Commonwealth Corporation.
Work experience is critically important for the long-term success of young people. Research shows teens who work have long-term gains in employment, future earnings, and educational outcomes.
Students who work up to 20 hours per week during high school are more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree than students who do not work, research shows. Teens with early work experience also tend to attain work in higher-level occupations later in life, and tend to have jobs with pension plans and employer-provided health insurance.
Governor Baker Introduces New Procedures for Public Records Requests
Guidance aims to increase transparency by reducing costs, streamlining responsiveness
Governor Charlie Baker today announced for the first time administration-wide measures to improve transparency and public access to government records and information, including a reduced and streamlined fee structure and more efficient communications and responses to requesters. The new procedures announced today and outlined in a memo to Cabinet Secretaries will be implemented over the coming weeks.
“We are proud to undertake this important step towards increasing the public’s access to information and shedding further light on the government that their tax dollars fund,” said Governor Baker. “These new measures reduce costs and make the public records request process more uniform and timely, increasing government’s public accountability, openness and transparency.”;
The procedures being implemented by the Baker-Polito Administration in accordance with best practices from around the nation, seek to comply with and exceed the requirements under the existing public records law to more diligently respond to the number of public records requests while reducing delays and costs to requesters and continuing to protect the personal information of taxpayers and service users.
MassIT is additionally in the process of implementing over the next year, e-mail search capabilities for Executive Branch agencies to ease the fulfilling of broad based email searches.
Improving Government Transparency:
· Secretariats and agencies will designate a Records Access Officer (RAO) to receive and coordinate requests and establish an internal tracking system to ensure compliance with the administration’s public records policy and existing law. RAO’s contact information will be posted on an agency’s website along with helpful instructions for submitting public records requests.
· To improve communications with the public, secretariats and agencies through their RAO will notify a requester within 5 days if the records they are seeking may take more than 10 days and/or $10 to produce. Requests should be fulfilled in no more than eight weeks, with any extension being explained to a requester in writing.
· Secretariats and agencies will regularly make available frequently requested information and/or records on their website and provide information as able, in electronic, searchable formats.
· The administration will waive search and retrieval fees for standard public records requests, provide at no cost the first 4 hours of work required for more complex requests, and charge no more than $25 per hour for additional time required and notify the requester of those costs in advance.
· The administration will implement standardized production costs in response to public records requests, and in the interest of cost savings and environmental purposes, fulfill requests electronically as able.
o Electronic Copies: No charge for duplication*
o 1-4 precisely defined documents: No charge**
o Black and White Hard Copies: 10 cents per page for single- and double-sided copies.
o Color Hard Copies: 50 cents per page
*Costs for discs, thumb-drives or other storage devices necessary to transmit requested documents still apply.
Governor Baker Named Chairman of NGA Health and Human Services Committee
Governor Charlie Baker was named the Chairman of the National Governors Association (NGA) Health and Human Services Committee by NGA Chairman Governor Gary Herbert (R-Utah) and NGA Vice Chairman Governor Terry McAuliffe (D-Virginia).
“I’m honored and excited to take on this position, using my personal background and Massachusetts’ role as a national leader in healthcare, to share ideas and policies with other states on effectively improving the delivery of care and services we provide to our most vulnerable,” said Governor Baker.
The Health and Human Services Committee handles issues dealing with health care, particularly as they relate to Medicaid, and federal-state safety net programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and other social services. Members of the committee ensure that the governors’ views are represented in the shaping of federal policy.
In February, Governor Baker was elected the Vice Chairman of the Coalition of Northeast Governors (CONEG).
About the National Governors Association (NGA):
Founded in 1908, NGA is the collective voice of the nation’s governors and one of Washington, D.C.’s most respected public policy organizations. Its members are the governors of the 55 states, territories and commonwealths. NGA provides governors and their senior staff members with services that range from representing states on Capitol Hill and before the Administration on key federal issues to developing and implementing innovative solutions to public policy challenges through the NGA Center for Best Practices. For more information, visit www.nga.org.