Baker-Polito Administration Announces State Support for High-Speed Internet Expansion in Western Massachusetts
State will Partner and Invest with Towns to Address the ‘Last Mile’ Challenge, Helping Unserved Residents and Businesses Compete in the Digital Global Economy
Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito announced their commitment to broadband expansion initiatives designed to narrow existing gaps in high-speed Internet access for residents and businesses in Western Massachusetts.
The Baker-Polito Administration will commit up to $50 million in existing capital funding to the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) for broadband expansion initiatives. These state funds will be used to catalyze significant additional municipal and private investment, and will support innovative, sustainable, locally-led projects.
“Providing high-speed broadband access to all cities and towns is not only a matter of basic fairness, but it is an essential part of building stronger communities and a stronger economy,” said Governor Baker. “It’s time that we connect cities and towns throughout Massachusetts to the high-speed broadband service that is critical in today’s digital world.”;
“This administration is committed to empowering residents and unleashing entrepreneurial activity throughout the Commonwealth,” said Lieutenant Governor Polito. “With this funding, we are one step closer towards closing the digital divide that continues to hinder residents and businesses in Western Massachusetts.”;
The announcement came after a joint meeting of the Executive Committee of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative Board of Directors and the MBI Board of Directors. The MBI, a division of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, is the state entity designated to partner with municipalities, residents, and providers to support development of these broadband expansion solutions.
“Despite the current budget deficit, the Baker-Polito Administration remains committed to investing in our regional economies, and creating partnerships that empower communities to be great,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash. “I look forward to working with the Broadband Institute to extend broadband service to additional areas of Massachusetts.”
"I applaud Governor Baker's decision to release these funds," said Senate President Stan Rosenberg. "It is another clear signal that, even though we have a new Administration, we are still fully committed to creating long promised access to high speed internet for the businesses, students, and residents of our region."
"This is the beginning of the end of the digital divide in western Massachusetts," said State Senator Benjamin B. Downing. "Connecting all of our residents will create jobs and help the region's economy thrive."
"I am grateful for Governor Baker's commitment to our continued progress in bringing broadband service to our undeserved residents and businesses in western Massachusetts,” said Representative Stephen Kulik. “Our rural communities must have high-speed broadband in order to function in the modern world and to compete in today's economy. The release of this $50 million in state funds, and the partnership with local governments, moves us significantly closer to building the network and finishing the job."
Currently, 45 Western Massachusetts towns lack any residential cable or broadband access, relying upon DSL or dial-up technologies. Further, many towns have existing cable franchise agreements which provide high-speed Internet access to a part of town, but do not serve the entire community. Planning, evaluation and program development is underway for several key projects which will benefit from state investment, including:
· Construction of a regional fiber-to-the-home network in interested towns currently lacking any residential broadband;
· Investment support for the town of Leverett, which is leveraging the MassBroadband 123 network and municipal investment to construct their own fiber to the home network; and
· A program using state investment to foster public-private partnerships which will expand residential broadband access in communities with existing cable franchise agreements that do not serve the entire community, primarily due to low population density.
“We thank the Baker-Polito Administration for their support of our efforts to deliver high-speed broadband connections to the households and businesses in unserved areas of Massachusetts,” said Eric Nakajima, Director of the MBI at MassTech. “This funding will help us make the construction of these ‘Last Mile’ networks a reality.”;
Using an initial $40 million state capital investment and a $45.2 million federal stimulus grant, the MBI built and operates MassBroadband 123, a 1,200 mile fiber backbone for Western and Central Massachusetts. MassBroadband 123 also provides direct connectivity to 1,100 community anchor institutions, such as schools, libraries, town halls, and public safety facilities. MassBroadband 123 provides the needed platform for future broadband expansion and has reduced the cost curve for future expansion directly to residents and businesses. Many broadband expansion projects supported with state investment will leverage MassBroadband 123, and all programs and initiatives receiving state investment will need to demonstrate strong local support, often including municipal investment.
About the Massachusetts Broadband Institute at MassTech
A division of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the Massachusetts Broadband Institute at MassTech (MBI) is working to extend high-speed Internet access to homes, businesses, schools, libraries, medical facilities, government offices, and other public places across the Commonwealth, allowing for greater participation in the global economy and civic society. The MBI also promotes broadband usage and adoption by residents and small businesses. Learn more at
Baker-Polito Administration Issues Statement Regarding MBTA General Manager Resignation
Baker-Polito Administration spokesman Tim Buckley issued the following statement regarding Doctor Beverly Scott’s resignation as MBTA General Manager:
“The Governor and Lt. Governor were surprised to learn of Dr. Scott's resignation this afternoon. They thank her for her contribution to the Commonwealth and are grateful for her offer of assistance as the MTBA transitions to a new General Manager. The Governor looks forward to meeting with MTBA officials tomorrow, working with them to assess the issues that have plagued the agency in recent weeks and developing operational and maintenance plans moving forward.”
Governor Baker Signs Executive Order to Strengthen Municipal Partnerships
New Executive Order Creates The Community Compact Cabinet To Elevate Municipal Relationships With Governor’s Office
Governor Baker today signed his first Executive Order, creating the Community Compact Cabinet, to elevate the Administration’s partnerships with cities and towns in all communities of the Commonwealth. Chaired by Lt. Governor Polito, the Community Compact Cabinet will allow the Governor’s Office to work more closely with leaders from all cities and towns.
“Karyn and I both served as selectmen in our hometowns and clearly understand the important challenges encountered in our local communities,” said Governor Baker. “I am pleased to sign this Executive Order which gives cities and towns a real seat at the table in our Administration. State and local government are tightly intertwined and with Karyn at the helm of the Community Compact Cabinet, our Administration will be better equipped to respond to their needs and create safer, stronger communities across the Commonwealth."
“This is a critical first step in the right direction for our Administration,”; said Lt. Governor Polito. “I look forward to championing this effort throughout the Commonwealth to partner with our hardworking municipalities and pave the way for better and brighter opportunities in our schools and communities.”;
About Executive Order:
• Empowers Lieutenant Governor Polito to be a champion for municipal issues across state government
• Restructures the Department of Revenue to include a new Senior Commissioner for the Division of Local Services, reporting directly to the Commissioner
• Creates a Community Compact Cabinet that will work toward mutual accountability, work to reduce red tape, promote best practices, and develop specific “community compacts” with local governments.
• These community compacts will create clear, mutual standards, expectations, and accountability for both the state and municipalities as we seek to create better government for our citizens.
This Executive Order will revoke and supersede Executive Order 537, which was invoked under the previous Administration in September 2011 and relegated municipal affairs to the Executive Office of Administration and Finance.
Next week, Lt. Governor Polito will kick-off a statewide tour to meet with local mayors and address ways to strengthen partnerships in our communities. Polito will discuss the $100 million in new Chapter 90 funding that was released on the Administration’s first day in office to fund local road and bridge repairs for every city and town in the Commonwealth. The Baker Administration has pledged to protect local aid, funding for the homelessness and the Department of Children and Families.
Governor Baker announced his first Executive Order today at the Massachusetts Municipal Association Opening Session in Boston.
TEXT OF THE EXECUTIVE ORDER
By His Excellency
CHARLES D. BAKER GOVERNOR
EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. ____
Revoking and Superseding Executive Order 537
CREATING THE COMMUNITY COMPACT CABINET
WHEREAS, cities and towns are at the front lines of delivering services to the citizens of the Commonwealth;
WHEREAS, cities and towns are vital partners in creating the conditions under
which economic development flourishes throughout Massachusetts;
WHEREAS, cities and towns face increasing pressures on municipal and school budgets, which impacts those essential services;
WHEREAS, cities and towns, through local aid and other programs, are partners with the Commonwealth;
WHEREAS, the Commonwealth wishes to recommit itself to a stronger partnership with its cities and towns;
WHEREAS, cities and towns have the right to hold the Commonwealth accountable, the Commonwealth has the right to hold cities and towns accountable, and the citizens have the right to hold all levels of government accountable. There should be a new compact between the state and our communities to create more effective, efficient and accountable governments.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Charles D. Baker, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution as Supreme Executive Magistrate, Part 2, c. 2, § 1, Art. 1, do hereby revoke Executive Order No. 537 and order as follows:
Section 1. There is hereby established within the Executive Office of the Governor, a Community Compact Cabinet to advise the Governor on its areas of responsibility set forth in Section 4 below.
Section 2. There shall be, within the Department of Revenue, a Senior Deputy Commissioner, Division of Local Services, who shall report to the Commissioner of Revenue and shall be responsible for the operations and activities of the Division of Local Services. In addition, the new Senior Deputy Commissioner will also be the primary lead on local issues on behalf of the Secretary of Administration and Finance.
Section 3. The Community Compact Cabinet shall be chaired by the Lieutenant Governor. The Senior Deputy Commissioner, Division of Local Services shall serve as the Vice-Chair of the cabinet. The cabinet shall also include the Secretary of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, the Secretary of the Executive Office of Education, the Secretary of Transportation, the Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, the Assistant Secretary for Operational Services, the Chief Information Officer, and any other person whom the Lieutenant Governor may designate from time to time.
Section 4. The Community Compact Cabinet shall have the following areas of responsibility:
(a) to champion municipal interests across all executive secretariats and agencies;
(b) to develop, in consultation with cities and towns, mutual standards of best practices for both the state and municipalities, working toward the creation of community compacts that will create clear standards, expectations and accountability for both partners;
(c) to develop ideas to incentivize adoption of best practices at the municipal and school district level;
(d) to work with the Local Government Advisory Commission (the “LGAC”) to resolve issues and implement recommendations made by the LGAC and approved by the Governor;
(e) to review state regulatory burdens on municipalities and school districts and recommend reforms to lessen the burdens on municipalities and school districts;
(f) to understand the major cost drivers of municipalities and school districts and identify actions that the Commonwealth, municipalities and school districts can take to control them;
(g) to identify and remove barriers to economic development opportunities for cities and towns; and
(h) to empower cities and towns and school districts by finding new ways for local governments to leverage state resources and capacity.
Section 5. All agencies subject to the Governor’s control shall provide assistance to the Community Compact Cabinet by sharing information and expertise, as requested.
Section 6. This Executive Order shall continue in effect until amended, superseded or revoked by subsequent Executive Order.
Given at the Executive Chamber in Boston this 23rd day of January in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen and of the Independence of the United States of America two hundred thirty-nine.
Massachusetts New Governor's Corner Charlie Baker
Governor Baker Signs Executive Order to Bolster Diversity in State Government
Elevates Office of Access and Opportunity (OAO) to Governor’s Office
Today at the State House with members of the Black and Latino Legislative Caucus, advocates for minorities, women, veterans and those with disabilities, Governor Charlie Baker signed an Executive Order reinforcing the administration’s priority to coordinate and increase diversity and inclusion within state government. The Executive Order elevates the Office of Access and Opportunity (OAO) directly to the Governor’s Office, and creates a position of Deputy Chief of Staff for Access and Opportunity to lead the office. Previously, the work of OAO had been housed within the Executive Office of Administration and Finance. The Executive Order also establishes a cross-government Steering Committee for Access and Opportunity of key administration leaders.
“Despite a growing economy across the Commonwealth, it’s clear not all communities are seeing the same degree of benefits and new opportunities,” said Governor Baker. “We have room to improve employment and procurement practices that promote diversity and are more inclusive of minorities, women, veterans and individuals with disabilities when doing business with the Commonwealth. Our goal is to help this initiative make more progress by working directly with the Governor’s Office.”
“Small businesses are the backbone of Massachusetts local economies and with the development of the Office of Access and Opportunity in the Governor’s Office, we can further include those owned by our veterans, women, minorities and communities with disabilities,” said Lt. Governor Polito. “Increasing diversity in our workforce and contracting serves to increase opportunity for every corner and community of Massachusetts.”
The Deputy Chief of Staff for Access and Opportunity will serve as a liaison across related offices, commissions and task forces and focus on maximizing existing resources and offices to increase the employment and involvement of those within the minority, women, disability and veterans communities in state government, while also pursuing new policy goals to increase the equity of minority, women, disabled and veteran-owned small businesses in procurement and provisions of state resources.
“Governor Charlie Baker’s actions in elevating the Office of Access and Opportunity speak to the emphasis his administration will place on diversity and inclusion,” said Senator Linda Dorcena-Forry. “This Executive Order builds on the work of Governor Deval Patrick and exemplifies the importance of furthering equality within state government. I congratulate and look forward to working with Governor Baker to ensure all of the Commonwealth’s residents have full access to economic opportunity.”
The Deputy Chief for Access and Opportunity will partner with key outside stakeholders and those within state government, including the Human Resources Division, Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity, Supplier Diversity Office, Office on Disability, Higher Education and Labor and Workforce Development to create best practices and a results orientation with regular reports on key performance metrics.
“Massachusetts leads the nation in providing benefits and resources to veterans and their families,” said Secretary of Veterans’ Services Francisco Ureña. “There is no greater resource we can offer our veterans than a stable job and Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito have made it clear that greater employment opportunities for veterans will be a top priority. Elevating the Office of Access and Opportunity will give veteran owned and service disabled veteran owned businesses a stronger voice and a chance to flourish; creating hundreds of jobs for our veterans in the process.”
“I applaud the high priority the Baker-Polito administration is giving to increased employment opportunity for all within state government,” said Bill Henning, Executive Director for the Boston Center for Independent Living, an advocacy organization which provides services for people with disabilities. “Jobs are a key ticket to independence and self-sufficiency for people with disabilities.”
The overall mission of the Deputy Chief for Access and Opportunity will be to foster non-discrimination and equal opportunity irrespective of race, color, age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or express, religion, creed, ancestry, national origin, disability, veteran’s status or socio-economic background.
The Office of Access and Opportunity was first created by Executive Order 519 in January 2010 and was further modified by Executive Order 527 in February of 2011
Rep. Russell Holmes
Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry
Rep. Marcos Devers
Rep. Carlos Gonzalez
Rep. Aaron Vega
Rep. Byron Rushing
South End, Boston
Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley
At-large Boston City Councilor
New England Area Conference NAACP
Executive Director, Massachusetts Supplier Diversity Office
Undersecretary, Office of Labor and Workforce
Executive Director, Entrepreneurism
Union of Minority Neighborhoods
Executive Director, Boston Center for Independent Living
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Director of Compliance, DCAMM
Undersecretary, Office of Labor and Workforce
Howard Rye Institute Fellows
Governor Baker Announces Initial Steps To Combat Opioid Addiction Crisis
Releases County-Level Opioid Prescription Data For First Time
Governor Charlie Baker today announced the first steps of his plan to attack the growing opioid addiction crisis in the Commonwealth, including the establishment of a 16 member Working Group and a call on insurers to more effectively manage opioid prescribing practices. Governor Baker made the announcement today at Hope House, a drug addiction treatment center in Boston after a brief tour of the facility and personal discussions with several clients in recovery.
“As we begin the process of addressing one of the Commonwealth’s most pressing public health emergencies, I am pleased to announce a 16 member Opioid Addiction Working Group which will be tasked with formulating a statewide strategy to combat addiction,” said Governor Baker. “We have brought together a group of individuals from many diverse backgrounds and experiences related to prevention, intervention, treatment, recovery support and law enforcement, who after holding a listening tour with stakeholders around the Commonwealth, will report back to the administration with specific, targeted and tangible recommendations to increase public awareness about these medications and reduce the rate of addiction.”;
The Working Group will:
•; Collaborate with experts and a broad range of interest groups to review resources and the manner in which they are utilized
•; Preside over four public events, to be held in different regions of the state, to listen to communities and ignite conversation and ideas.
•; Complete their work and submit a list of recommendations by May
In addition, the Governor is calling on insurers, both public and private, to develop their own set of best practices for opioid management. He pointed to Blue Cross Blue Shields’ Prescription Pain Medication Safety Program, as a model. In the first two years of the program, claims for short-acting opioids such as Vicodin and Percocet, decreased by twenty-five percent.
“These medications can provide great relief for many patients, including those tormented by debilitating chronic pain or suffering in their last days of life,” said Governor Baker. “But we need to make sure prescribing is appropriate. Insurers can play a big role, including establishing best practices and ensuring compliance.”
The Governor also released today, for the first time, county-level data on the number of prescriptions written for opioids and the number of confirmed opioid-related overdose deaths. The prescription numbers are a result of the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP), which mandates all opioid prescribers enroll in the program. To date, 65% of MDs and DOs are currently enrolled, with the remainder expected to sign up by the fall of 2015.
“The best tool we have in this fight against opioid addiction is information,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders. “We can use this data to better inform how we distribute resources so we can help individuals and families that are at greatest risk get the help they need.”;
The PMP data highlights the number of individuals in a specific area who exhibit concerning behavior. Behavior is classified as “concerning” when an individual receives schedule II opioid prescriptions from different prescribers and then has those prescriptions dispensed at different pharmacies. In 2013, the data shows that in Plymouth County, for every 1000 individuals who receive one or more schedule II opioid prescriptions, close to 17 exhibit concerning behavior. In Bristol County, the number was slightly lower at 15.7, Barnstable County 15.5 and the lowest rate of concern was in Nantucket County where for every 1000 individuals who receive one or more schedule II opioid prescriptions only 1.4 exhibit concerning behavior.
Also released today, data from the Department of Public Health on unintentional overdose deaths in Massachusetts. The data shows that in 2013, there were 978 projected unintentional opioid overdose deaths representing a 46 percent increase over 2012.
To help keep prescription drugs from being misused, the Governor is also urging citizens to go through their medicine cabinets and discard extra prescription pain medicine in secure drop boxes that are set up in many local police departments. A full list of drop box locations is available at
Opioid addiction often begins when someone is prescribed a medication like Percocet or Vicodin after an injury or surgery. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), approximately four out of five people who reported they began using heroin in the past 12 months had previously abused prescription pain medication.
ADDRESSING OPIOID ADDICTION IN THE COMMONWEALTH
Marylou Sudders, Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services
Maura Healey, Attorney General
George Bell, General Catalyst Partners
Monica Bharel, MD, MPH, Commissioner of the Department of Public Health
Bill Carpenter, Mayor of Brockton
Colleen Labelle BSN, RN-BC, CARN, Program Director of the State Technical Assistance Treatment Expansion Office Based Opioid Treatment with Buprenorphine (STATE OBOT B) program at Boston Medical Center; Executive Director of the Massachusetts chapter of the International Nurses Society on Addictions.
Alan Ingram, Ed.D., Deputy Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Judy Lawler, Probation Officer, Chelsea District Drug Court
Joseph D. McDonald, Sheriff, Plymouth County
John McGahan, The Gavin Foundation
Fred Newton, President & CEO of Hope House, Inc.
Robert Roose, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer of Addiction Services at the Sisters of Providence Health System
Cindy Steinberg, National Director of Policy & Advocacy, U.S. Pain Foundation; Chair, Policy Council, Massachusetts Pain Initiative
Ray Tamasi, President and CEO of The Gosnold on Cape Cod
Steve Tolman, President, Massachusetts AFL-CIO
Sarah Wakeman, MD, Medical Director, Substance Use Disorders, Center for Community Health Improvement, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital
Governor Baker Statement on Selection as Vice Chairman of the Coalition of Northeast Governors
This morning at a meeting of the Coalition of Northeast Governors (CONEG) Governor Charlie Baker was elected as the group's Vice Chairman.
"I'm honored to have the support of my peers as Vice Chair for the Coalition of Northeast Governors," said Governor Baker. "New England faces many unique challenges, with even greater opportunities to answer them in a meaningful way for the citizens we serve. I look forward to working together with my colleagues to address the availability of energy on the New England grid, the opiate and drug addiction epidemic and all the issues that impact our region."
The Coalition of Northeast Governors met this morning during the National Governors Association weekend in Washington.
"I congratulate and commend Governor Baker on his election as Vice Chair of the Coalition of Northeastern Governors," said Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy, Chair of CONEG. "I look forward to working closely with him to bring innovative, bipartisan solutions to the challenges facing our region."
Governor Baker Announces MBTA Special Panel
BAKER-POLITO ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES RELEASE OF $13 MILLION IN FEDERAL HEATING ASSISTANCE FOR MASSACHUSETTS RESIDENTS
Funding Will Help Approximately 180,000 Families Pay Heating Bills
Governor Baker and Department of Housing and Community Development Undersecretary Chrystal Kornegay today announced the release of over $13 million in federal funding to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), bringing the total fuel assistance funding awarded to Massachusetts in FY15 up to $144 million. The funding will be distributed to 22 local administering agencies that will allocate benefits to approximately 180,000 eligible families in need of assistance.
“In this especially cold and unprecedented winter for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, these funds will be important to seeing our families have the assistance they need to stay warm,” said Governor Baker. “We will continue to work with the legislature to ensure Massachusetts’ vulnerable families have the proper heating resources available.”;
“This funding comes at a critical time for Massachusetts residents who need a helping hand in heating their homes during these cold winter months,” said Chrystal Kornegay, Undersecretary of the Department of Housing and Community Development, which manages LIHEAP.
The $13 million is the final 10 percent of the total funding allocated to Massachusetts’ LIHEAP from the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In October 2014, HHS awarded Massachusetts a total of $131 million in fuel assistance for qualifying residents, representing 90 percent of the FY15 LIHEAP funding.
The energy and fuel assistance program provides funding to help eligible households pay for a portion of their heating bills. Eligibility for LIHEAP is determined based on household size and the gross annual income of every household member 18 years or older. The maximum income eligibility for LIHEAP is 60 percent of the estimated state median income.
New applicants are encouraged to apply for the program. LIHEAP agencies will be accepting applications until April 30, 2015. To find out if you are eligible to receive fuel benefits, please visit here.
Baker-Polito Statement on the Retirement of Appeals Court Chief Justice Phillip Rapoza
Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito released the following statement on Chief Justice Phillip Rapoza’s announcement he will retire from the Massachusetts Appeals Court on June 30, 2015:
“Chief Justice Rapoza has served the judicial system honorably throughout his legal career, advancing the integrity of the courts in Massachusetts and on the international stage for over two decades,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “As a trial judge, an appellate jurist and as Chief, he has brought compassion, wisdom and leadership to his decisions and those parties who have appeared before his court. We wish him well in his retirement and thank him for his service to the people of Massachusetts.”;
“We applaud Chief Justice Rapoza’s outstanding work as a jurist and leader in our Courts, but also the work he has done on behalf of the UN-backed war crimes tribunals in East Timor and Cambodia,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “His leadership on the bench will be missed.”;
Chief Justice Rapoza’s letter to Governor Baker can be found here.
Chief Justice Rapoza was first appointed to the bench in 1992 by Governor Weld and has served as a trial judge on the Fall River District Court and the Massachusetts Superior Court. In 1998, Rapoza was appointed to the Massachusetts Appeals Court and in 2006 was named Chief Justice of the Court.
As announced Friday, the administration has established a statewide 21-member Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) and is soliciting applications for members to screen applicants for judicial and clerk-magistrate positions. Judicial Nominating Commissioners once in place will work to make a timely recommendation to the Governor for appointments to the Appeals Court and any other vacancies as they develop.
Governor Baker Names Mike Heffernan As Designee To PRIM Board
Governor Baker’s Executive Order Establishes Judicial Nominating Commission
JNC website to aid application process, hosts current judicial openings
Yesterday, Governor Charlie Baker signed Executive Order 558 establishing the Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC), a 21 member, statewide body to screen applications for judicial and clerk-magistrate positions. He also announced that the Baker-Polito Administration is currently accepting applications for individuals seeking to serve on the JNC
Governor Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito are recruiting a team of Commissioners to serve on the JNC through the JNC website, mass.gov/jnc.
“This non-partisan, non-political, non-compensated Judicial Nominating Commission will help the administration recruit the highest caliber of judicial officer appointments,” said Baker. “Lieutenant Governor Polito and I aim to draw from all quarters of the Commonwealth and develop a commission that represents our diverse population. We are committed to continuing the longstanding tradition of appointing extremely well qualified individuals to the bench.”
“Serving on the JNC is an opportunity for individuals to have a significant impact on the Courts,” said Lieutenant Governor Polito. “We believe that the process established in the Executive Order will allow the Governor to have a strong pool of judicial candidates to choose from.”
After the members of the Commission have been selected, the JNC will immediately begin work on reviewing applications for open judicial positions.
Applications for the new JNC and current judicial openings are available at www.mass.gov/jnc. The deadline for JNC Commissioner applications is February 27, 2015.
Baker-Polito Administration Announces Plan to Close Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Gap
Solution protects local aid, avoids tax hikes and any draw from the Stabilization Fund
Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito today announced a series of proposals to close the Fiscal Year 15 (FY 15) budget gap recently identified by the Administration. The fixes include a combination of the Governor’s 9C authority to adjust Executive Branch spending, as well as legislation for additional spending reductions, non-tax revenue adjustments, and other one-time fixes.
As originally promised, the plan announced today does not raise taxes, cut local aid, or draw down on the state’s Stabilization Fund. The total budget imbalance addressed for FY 15 was adjusted slightly, from $765 million to $768 million due to updated tax data and other factors such as last week’s winter storm. After today’s proposal, spending for FY 15 is still a 7.7% increase over FY 14.
“The substantial deficit we face as a Commonwealth as a result of over-spending requires the cooperation of our partners in the legislature and I look forward to working with lawmakers to enact the changes we identified to balance the budget for the rest of the fiscal year,” said Governor Baker. “These adjustments were considered carefully, understanding that the decisions we make today are crucial to implementing responsible fiscal planning for the future. Thankfully, our response to the spending problem we inherited protects local aid, taxpayers and critical services for people without drawing from the rainy day fund. We recognize that some proposals represent one-time fixes and that further structural changes will be needed to correct the spending imbalance for next year and beyond.”
“Fixing this year’s state budget deficit is an opportunity for Massachusetts to rein in what has become a serious spending problem,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “The Commonwealth’s revenues continue to grow at a consistent pace and now it’s time to correct unprecedented spending to more realistically mirror budgeting realities. This administration made a commitment to the cities and towns of Massachusetts and I am pleased we protected critical local aid resources for our partners in municipal government.
“Thanks to the leadership of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and my fellow Cabinet Secretaries, we developed solutions that balance this year’s budget in a manner consistent with the administration's commitment to taxpayers, municipalities, and critical services ,” said Secretary Lepore, Secretary of the Executive Office for Administration and Finance. “Our team has worked around the clock for the past three weeks to identify and resolve the current year’s budget. We can now turn our attention to developing a fiscally sound Fiscal Year 2016 budget that incorporates long term solutions to address the state's spending problem."
The Administration has proposed reaching this solution through administrative reductions, revenue opportunities, and a combination of changes at the MassHealth program. Nearly half of the solution is derived from reductions in administrative expenses, including 9C reductions and expected reversions.
There were close to 300 9C reductions proposed, almost 60% of which still left their line item with a higher level of funding than in Fiscal Year 2014.
Notable Savings Initiatives:
• A 10% reduction from the Governor’s Office.
• $168 million through redeterminations, revenue optimizations, and cash management at MassHealth.
• $22 million from hiring freeze.
Notable Savings From Programs Not Started ($73 million):
• $37 million economic development bill.
• $200K saved from a parking management study.
• $2.3 million from a clean water planning & technical assistance program.
• $600K from a water technology innovation program.
Notable Items With No Spending Reductions:
• Local aid
• Department of Children and Families
Baker-Polito Administration Announces Health Connector, MassHealth Appointments
New executive director to assume role at the Connector as MassHealth Director position elevated to Assistant Secretary role
Governor Charlie Baker today announced two key healthcare appointments who will be tasked with ensuring that Massachusetts’ Medicaid population are receiving proper coverage and that healthcare consumers have the tools necessary and readily available to seek out insurance on the private market and Connector website.
Governor Baker announced the position of Director of MassHealth will be elevated to Assistant Secretary for MassHealth under Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders and appointed Daniel Tsai to that post. This change in designation will allow for enhanced coordination between MassHealth and other state agencies and empower policy, payment and service reforms needed to benefit members and the Commonwealth.
Louis Gutierrez, a longtime information technology and planning specialist in the private sector and state government, was announced as the Executive Director for the Massachusetts Health Connector. Mr. Gutierrez will be officially appointed to the post by Administration and Finance Secretary Kristen Lepore under her office’s statutory authority as Chair of the Health Connector Board of Directors.
“Massachusetts has long been a leader in healthcare reform, but we must always look for ways to improve on how we serve those in need and ensure our residents have the information needed to find affordable coverage,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “I am confident in Daniel’s ability to fill this new and expanded role as Assistant Secretary to facilitate further cooperation among agencies who assist and care for our Medicaid population, and Louis’ talent will be a welcome voice and mind for those families and individuals searching for quality and affordable healthcare.”;
"I believe deeply in the mission of MassHealth and the important services it provides for our most vulnerable populations," said Daniel Tsai. "I am humbled and honored to have this opportunity to work with Governor Baker and Secretary Sudders to enhance the voice of these individuals in state government."
“Rapidly evolving technology presents us every day with new opportunities and unique challenges to improve operations and services to our consumers -- in this case, healthcare for the people of Massachusetts,” said Louis Gutierrez. “I am looking forward to serving with Governor Baker as we work to streamline access to healthcare for those needing coverage for themselves and their families.”;
MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program, provides access to critical, affordable and quality health care to the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable populations in the communities where they live. MassHealth serves 1.7 million low-and moderate-income individuals and individuals with disabilities, or approximately one in four Massachusetts residents. Through grants and demonstrations, MassHealth seeks to enhance the ability of hospitals and community health centers to more efficiently and effectively deliver integrated health care services to the MassHealth members they serve.
The Health Connector is Massachusetts’ own health insurance marketplace for individuals, families and small businesses to shop for health and dental coverage, helping Massachusetts to achieve the highest rate of health insurance coverage in the nation. Problems developing with the site last year cost hundreds of millions of dollars in recent technology fixes and temporary Medicaid coverage plans for over 300,000 residents, contributing to Massachusetts’ recently announced, $765 million budget deficit.
About Daniel Tsai:
Daniel Tsai currently serves as a Partner in McKinsey & Company’s Healthcare Systems and Services practice, co-leading the firm’s Medicaid service line. He has significant experience designing and implementing innovative, state-wide payment systems for Medicaid, Medicare and Commercial populations, and has worked closely with multiple Medicaid programs, private payers, and Fortune 50 health services companies. Tsai regularly leads workshops and conference sessions on health care payment and care delivery strategies and holds an A.B. in Applied Mathematics and Economics from Harvard.
About Louis Gutierrez:
Louis Gutierrez has spent the last seven years as a principal in the Massachusetts-based IT consulting firm Exeter Group. Until this appointment, he served on the boards of directors of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and the New England Health Exchange Network. He is returning after previous roles in Massachusetts state government and information technology, including Chief Information Officer for the Commonwealth in the Romney, Weld and Celluci administrations where he was also an Assistant Secretary for Administration and Finance. Gutierrez also served as a Senior Vice President and Chief Information and Technology Officer (CIO/CTO) at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care during its 1999-2002 corporate turnaround, and was a 2002 recipient of Computerworld’s Premier 100 award for distinguished CIOs.
Governor Baker, Lieutenant Governor Polito, and Secretary Walker Statements on December Jobs Report
Governor Charlie Baker, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, and Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Ron Walker released the following statements regarding December job growth and unemployment figures announced this morning:
“Today’s jobs report shows progress as the Commonwealth continues to reduce unemployment, but there is still much work to be done. Our Administration is committed to closing our state’s deficit and focusing on meaningful steps to improve employment opportunities for everyone everywhere, especially veterans returning home, students entering the workforce, and those living in regions of our state still waiting for economic recovery,” said Governor Baker.
“I am pleased to see positive movement in the latest jobs report and look forward to replicating the same success seen in the greater Boston area in every region of the Commonwealth,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito.
“Fostering a better economic environment in every corner of the Commonwealth will require a balanced approach of fiscally responsible planning, improved job training programs and increased partnerships between our universities and businessesa formula set to get more people into sustainable and good-paying jobs,” said Secretary Ron Walker.
Preliminary estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics show Massachusetts added 10,900 new jobs in December. Since December 2013, Massachusetts has added a net of 60,900 jobs; with 58,400 jobs added in the private sector. Additionally, last month’s total unemployment rate fell to 5.5 percent, down 0.3 of a percentage point over the month and down 1.6 percent for the year.
Baker-Polito Administration Names Daniel Bennett Secretary of Public Safety
Governor Charlie Baker today named Worcester County Senior First Assistant District Attorney Daniel Bennett as Secretary of the Executive Office of Public Safety. Bennett brings two decades of legal experience to the administration, and is recognized for his work as a public prosecutor and effective manager committed to public safety.
“Ensuring the safety of the Commonwealth’s residents will be critical to building stronger, safer schools and communities across the state,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Massachusetts’ law enforcement has made great strides in protecting our communities and I look forward to joining Daniel to enhance the trust forged between public safety officials and the community. Daniel’s integrity and service will be a great asset to our administration and the people of Massachusetts.”;
“I am honored and privileged to join the Baker-Polito administration,” said First Assistant District Attorney Dan Bennett, “and I look forward to making Massachusetts a safer place to live, work and raise a family for everyone.”;
About Daniel Bennett:
Daniel Bennett has been a Senior First Assistant District Attorney in Worcester County since 2011 where he was named a 2013 Prosecutor of the Year by the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association. Prior to joining the Worcester District Attorney’s office, Daniel was senior trial counsel in the Middlesex District Attorney’s office where he began his career as an assistant district attorney in 1994. In between two terms of service with the Middlesex District Attorney’s office, Daniel worked in the gang unit of the Suffolk District Attorney’s office and spent eight years in private practice.
Governor Baker Extends Massachusetts Health Connector Payment Deadline Through January 28
Governor Charlie Baker announced a payment deadline extension for the Massachusetts Health Connector. The deadline for enrollment was set for tonight for individuals to select and pay for a health care plan, but due to overwhelming wait times, the Baker Administration has ordered the Massachusetts Health Connector to continue accepting payments until next Wednesday for enrollees seeking coverage for February 1st.
Massachusetts Health Connector call centers and a walk-in center (located at 133 Portland Street, Boston) will be open the following times for individuals to make payments for their applications for insurance plans to begin on February 1st:
· Saturday, January 24th from 9:00 AM 3:00 PM
· Monday, January 26th from 7:00 AM 7:00 PM
· Tuesday, January 27th from 7:00 AM 7:00 PM
· Wednesday, January 28th from 7:00 AM 7:00 PM
"With long wait times, the Health Connector is still struggling to meet the needs of health care consumers, and with that in mind we believe extending the deadline for payment is the right thing to do,” said Governor Baker.
Individuals can go online, contact the call centers, visit the Portland Street walk-in center or mail payments to the Health Connector only to complete the payment process for enrollees seeking coverage for February 1st. Individuals submitting new enrollment applications can be submitted until February 15th to select a health care plan beginning March 1st.
Massachusetts Health Connector Contact Information: