Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito Statements on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito issued the following statements in recognition of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which are embargoed until 12:00AM on Monday, January 18, 2016:

“Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. always believed our nation’s best years were in front of us.  While his life’s work undoubtedly made us better, we recognize that there is much more for us to do as a society to fully embrace his vision of a beloved community,” said Governor Baker. “Knowing he represented the very best within us, we can and must strive to live by his ideals to realize our shared sense of purpose, keep his cause with us and carry on his work.”

“Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s mission to reconcile a divided nation lives on and depends on us all,” said Lt. Governor Polito. “We have made progress in honoring his legacy, and understand that the encouragement his spirit provides will help us to fulfill the potential he knew we could achieve together.”;


Baker-Polito Administration Unveils Urban Agenda Grant Winners

Grants will empower local communities to meet local needs

Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito announced the inaugural round of awards from the Commonwealth’s Urban Agenda Grant Program, a new grant program that seeks to unlock community-driven responses to local economic opportunities through partnership-building, problem-solving, and shared accountability. The awards, totaling $3 million in grant funding, will fund 16 economic development, planning, and housing development initiatives, across 13 communities.

“The focus of our urban agenda is community empowerment across the Commonwealth, to meet local needs with locally driven solutions,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The partnerships that have formed in response to this new program will be essential to building leadership, collaboration, and capacity, while creating economic opportunities in the short term, and building a foundation for long-lasting economic development in our urban communities.”;

“Urban Agenda grants build on our administration’s commitment to empowering communities,” said Lieutenant Governor Polito. “By supporting community-driven responses to local economic opportunities, this grant program will help transform urban neighborhoods.”

“By engaging cities and community-based organizations around local economic assets, urban agenda grants will help communities unlock dynamic growth,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash.

“Multi-family housing development strengthens communities,” said Housing and Community Development Undersecretary Chrystal Kornegay. “By funding hard-to-finance soft costs, Urban Agenda Housing Program grants support the revitalization of vacant and underutilized publicly-owned land, and advance our mission to create vibrant communities.”

The Commonwealth’s Urban Agenda promotes economic vitality and cultivates safer, stronger urban neighborhoods and communities throughout Massachusetts. The Urban Agenda grant program seeks to advance vibrant communities, and unlock economic mobility for residents, through community-based partnerships that address workforce development, entrepreneurship, and mixed-income housing development. The inaugural round of the grant program received 54 applications, requesting a total of $12.7 million in funding, from both Gateway Cities and non-Gateway communities of varying sizes. The grant program made awards to three types of projects: economic development implementation grants, economic development planning grants, and housing grants.

Urban Agenda Economic Development Implementation grants will empower urban communities to advance employment and economic opportunity by providing flexible grant funding that supports creative local partnerships and capitalizes on local economic opportunities. The Urban Agenda Economic Development Implementation grant program challenged urban neighborhoods across Massachusetts to form partnerships that leverage existing economic assets, target specific workforce populations, define their economic development and quality of life goals, and then deliver on those goals.

Urban Agenda Planning and Technical Assistance grants will be used by communities to bring residents and other stakeholders together for a facilitated process to identify opportunities for shared work on quality-of-life issues, and to build coalitions and social capital within the community.

Urban Agenda Housing Program grants will assist municipalities in expanding housing opportunities by supporting predevelopment and soft costs related to the construction of multi-family housing, with a particular emphasis on housing opportunities that leverage vacant or under-utilized publicly-owned land.

2016 URBAN AGENDA GRANT AWARD WINNERS

Urban Agenda Economic Development Implementation Grants:

Boston - $225,000

Madison Park Development Corporation will partner with Boston Education, Skills & Training (BEST) Corp., a nonprofit workforce development organization focused on training Boston residents for jobs in the hospitality industry, to create a new hospitality training facility in Dudley Square.

Boston - $200,000

The Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative will partner with CommonWealth Kitchen, Project Hope, and the Local Enterprise Assistance Fund (LEAF) to launch a local food manufacturing initiative that will grow small businesses and create food manufacturing jobs in Dorchester and Roxbury.

Framingham - $125,000

The South Middlesex Opportunity Council (SMOC), in partnership with SMOC Financial Services, the Town of Framingham, Framingham Downtown Renaissance, Framingham State University, MetroWest Legal Services, Middlesex Savings Bank, MutualOne Bank, MassBay Community College, the MetroWest Chamber of Commerce, and the Brazil New England Chamber of Commerce, will launch a one-stop microenterprise center that will boost entrepreneurship and the growth of startups by low- and moderate-income Framingham residents.

Greenfield and North Adams - $200,000

The communities of Greenfield and North Adams will spur downtown revitalization and deepen community-based entrepreneurship through a coordinated program of small business training, mentorship, business succession planning, and capital access. The grant will implement priority opportunities outlined in the Sustainable Berkshires and Sustainable Franklin County regional plans.

Holyoke - $250,000

The Greater Holyoke Chamber Centennial Foundation will partner with the City of Holyoke, the Holyoke Public Library, Nuestras Raices, SCORE, and Holyoke Works to deepen Holyoke’s entrepreneurial ecosystem by facilitating the development of affordable workspaces for entrepreneurs, expand the city’s SPARK entrepreneurship program, and facilitate the streamlining of Holyoke’s local business permitting processes. Holyoke’s Urban Agenda program will be targeted at building entrepreneurship among Latino residents, and builds off existing economic development partnerships through the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Working Cities Challenge, and MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative.

 

Lawrence - $250,000

The Lawrence Working Families Initiative will scale up an existing Working Cities Challenge partnership aimed at long-term building prosperity among low-income Latino parents of Lawrence Public Schools students, by operationalizing Lawrence employers’ local hiring and commitments, implementing new job recruitment and internal promotion programs, and extending job coaching, skills training, job placement, and professional mentorship supports to low-income residents. The Initiative’s partners are Lawrence Community Works, the Lawrence Partnership, the Lawrence Public Schools, the City of Lawrence, ValleyWorks Career Center, The Community Group, Northern Essex Community College, Notre Dame Education Center, the Adult Learning Center, the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, and the Family and Community Resource Center of Family Services, Inc.

New Bedford - $200,000

The New Bedford Housing Authority and PACE YouthBuild New Bedford will partner to create a vocational skills center that will provide career assessment, educational opportunities, and vocational training to residents of the city’s public housing. The program aims to address chronic unemployment and underemployment among city residents by equipping them with the skills necessary to enter and advance in the workforce.

Somerville - $200,000

The City of Somerville and the Somerville Public Schools, in collaboration with Sprout & Co., TechHub Boston, the Artisan’s Asylum, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Fab Foundation, will launch a fabrication laboratory at Somerville High School. The “fab lab” will host a vocational-technical fabrication academy, an evening adult workforce development program, and a youth entrepreneurship and mentorship program that will connect lower-income youth to the innovation economy. The project builds off the city’s previous work, through the Working Cities Challenge, to create economic mobility for lower-income residents.

Worcester - $200,000

The Downtown Worcester Access to Employment Partnership will create a new employment training and support program, aimed at creating employment pipelines in the health care, transportation, and food service sectors. The partnership will reduce barriers to employment for low-income families, veterans, and unemployed and under-employed youth. The Partnership will be led by the Central Massachusetts Workforce Investment Board, the City of Worcester, the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, Quinsigamond Community College, the Worcester Community Connections Coalition, the WMCA of Central Massachusetts, the Worcester Youth Center, the Worcester Community Action Council, Veterans Inc., and Ascentria Care Alliance.

Urban Agenda Economic Development Planning Grants:

Brockton - $50,000

Brockton’s Urban Agenda planning grant will fund feasibility studies and business plan development for three downtown entrepreneurship projects: a restaurant incubator, a community kitchen and food incubator, and a co-work space. The planning grant builds on previous downtown redevelopment planning by the City and MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative.

Springfield - $50,000

Springfield’s Urban Agenda planning grant will fund a collaborative planning process in the City’s North End neighborhood. The planning process will address quality-of-life issues for North End residents, support the work of the North End Campus Coalition, and build neighborhood social capital to promote economic and workforce development.

Winthrop - $50,000

Winthrop’s Urban Agenda planning grant will fund a comprehensive master planning process for the Town’s main commercial district, and a reuse plan for a former middle school parcel that will unlock future economic development in the Town.

Urban Agenda Housing Program Grants:

Boston - $300,000

The City of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development will utilize a $300,000 Urban Agenda Housing Program grant to advance the redevelopment of the Indigo Block, an under-utilized city-owned parcel in Uphams Corner. Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation, Boston Capital, and Escazu Development will transform the site into 88 new housing units for low-, moderate-, and middle-income residents, and 20,000 square feet of light industrial space. The grant will finance a range of predevelopment activities at the project site.

Boston - $300,000

The Boston Housing Authority will utilize a $300,000 Urban Agenda Housing Program grant to advance the redevelopment of the BHA’s Amory Street Apartments site. The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation, Urban Edge, and The Community Builders are constructing 294 units of new mixed-income housing on the 6-acre site, and rehabilitating 215 units of existing housing for elderly and disabled residents. The grant will finance a range of predevelopment activities at the project site.

Holyoke - $150,000

The Holyoke Redevelopment Authority will utilize a $150,000 Urban Agenda Housing Program grant to advance the redevelopment of 1.5 acres of vacant and underutilized city-owned real estate in South Holyoke. The grant will finance a range of predevelopment activities at the project site, as the Redevelopment Authority engages a qualified master developer.

Lynn - $250,000

The Lynn Housing Authority and Neighborhood Development (LHAND) will utilize a $250,000 Urban Agenda Housing Program grant to advance the second phase of the City’s Washington Street Gateway redevelopment. The grant will finance a range of predevelopment activities that will enable the construction of 20 new market-rate housing units.

Massachusetts New Governor's Corner

Governor Baker Breaks Ground at Parcel 1B in Boston

Former Central Artery parcel will create 239 units of affordable and workforce housing

 Governor Charlie Baker joined Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, Undersecretary of Housing and Community Development Chrystal Kornegay, and officials from the real estate development firm Related Beal to break ground on Parcel 1B, a mixed-use development in downtown Boston that will have all its 239 housing units priced at affordable and middle-income rents. The development, located on a former Central Artery parcel, exemplifies the Baker-Polito Administration’s ongoing commitment to the production of quality, affordable housing.

“The construction of affordable housing is a key driver of economic development, both in Boston and throughout the Commonwealth,” said Governor Baker. “This development, which showcases the power of mixed-income housing to transform vacant state-owned land, demonstrates our administration’s ongoing commitment to building stronger communities across the Commonwealth.”

“Our administration is committed to partnering with communities to address their housing needs,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Related Beal’s innovative mix of affordable and workforce housing at Parcel 1B will open a fast-growing part of Boston to residents of all income levels and I commend them and our partners at the City of Boston for making this exciting development a reality.”

"I congratulate Related Beal for reaching this significant milestone and thank them for their commitment to bringing 100% affordable and workforce housing to downtown Boston," said Mayor Walsh. "Not only is this project a great achievement for the company, but it is a win for the people of Boston, with 239 units of affordable housing being added to the North Station area. This project serves as a great example of the types of transit-oriented, affordable housing opportunities we are looking to unlock for all of our families across the city."

“The work of improving housing access in Massachusetts happens at the local level,” said Undersecretary Kornegay. “By building local capacity and creating credible housing production incentives, our administration is empowering municipalities to deliver community-driven housing opportunities.”;

Kimberly Sherman Stamler, Chief Operating Officer of Related Beal said, “We are thrilled to celebrate this exciting milestone. Related Beal’s vision for workforce housing and a vibrant new hotel amenity in the heart of downtown Boston at Parcel 1B could only have been realized through the significant creative and collaborative effort with the City of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Related has a long-term commitment to affordable housing and we are proud to see the project take this step forward, enabling even more families and our  City’s diverse workforce to live in downtown Boston.”;

The 239 residential units at Parcel 1B will be income-restricted for individuals, couples and families with qualifying incomes. Additionally, 10 percent of the residential units will be three-bedroom units, providing much-needed affordable family housing in downtown Boston.

Funding for the project included tax-exempt bond financing from Mass Development, federal and state low income housing credits administered through DHCD, resources from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, a local property tax stabilization agreement, and affordable housing funds from the City of Boston. The funding from the Commonwealth reflects the ongoing work of the Baker-Polito Administration to make significant investments in affordable housing. Last fall, the administration committed affordable housing funds to projects like Parcel 1B that will create and preserve 1,119 units of affordable housing, in every region of Massachusetts.


Governor Baker Statement on White House Opioid Abuse Proposal

Governor Charlie Baker released the following statement supporting $1.1 billion in new funding from the President's FY17 budget that will address prescription opioid abuse and the heroin use epidemic that is plaguing the Commonwealth and nation:


Governor Baker Nominates Michele Ouimet-Rooke to Springfield District Court

Governor Charlie Baker has nominated Michele Ouimet-Rooke, an attorney with over 17 years of experience in Western Massachusetts courts to serve as a judge in the Springfield District Court.

“Michele Ouimet-Rooke offers the court a great combination of experience in both civil and criminal legal matters drawn from her career in public service and private practice in Western Massachusetts,” said Governor Baker. “I am pleased to recommend an individual with such broad experience to the Governor’s Council for their consideration.”;

“The first two District Court openings our administration has sought to fill are in Hampden County, and we are pleased to make this second nomination to the Springfield District Court,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito.  “If confirmed we know that Ms. Ouimet-Rooke will serve her hometown with distinction.”

Applicants for judicial openings are reviewed by the Statewide Judicial Nominating Commission and recommended to the Governor. All judicial nominations are subject to the advice and consent of the Governor’s Council.

There are 62 District Courts throughout the Commonwealth hearing a range of criminal, civil, housing, juvenile, mental health and other case types, including all felonies punishable by a sentence up to five years, misdemeanors and violations of city and town ordinances and by-laws. Springfield is located in the Region 6, which includes courts in Chicopee, Eastern Hampshire, Greenfield, Holyoke, Northern Berkshire, Northampton, Orange, Palmer, Southern Berkshire, and Westfield.

For more information about the District Court, visit http://www.mass.gov/courts/court-info/trial-court/dc/.

About Michele Ouimet-Rooke: Michele Ouimet-Rooke, a native and resident of Springfield, MA, joined the practice of Doherty, Wallace, Pillsbury and Murphy in 2002 as an Associate representing plaintiffs and defendants in a variety of litigations, including employment and discrimination law, premise and product liability, insurance defense, landlord/tenant issues, criminal defense and business litigation, becoming a partner in 2012. Ouimet-Rooke began her career in the Hampden County District Attorney’s Office as a Victim/Witness Advocate for eight years before becoming an Assistant District Attorney and Chief Prosecutor. She obtained a Bachelor of Science and Master in Education from Springfield College and Juris Doctor from Western New England College School of Law in 1999


Governor Baker Signs Legislation Ending Civil Commitments at MCI-Framingham for Substance Misuse Disorder

New Law Prohibits Women from Correctional Institutions to Improve Treatment Options

Governor Charlie Baker was joined by Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate President Stan Rosenberg, Ways and Means Chair Senator Karen Spilka and Attorney General Maura Healey for a bill signing ceremony to prohibit the civil commitment of women facing substance misuse disorders to MCI-Framingham and provide addiction treatment services at Shattuck and Taunton State Hospitals.

“With the support of the legislature and Attorney General, our administration is proud to have delivered on a promise that took more than 30 years to fulfill,” said Governor Baker.  “Now, women with substance abuse disorder who are civilly committed will not be sent to MCI Framingham and will have the opportunity to get treatment instead of jail time.”;

“Addiction is a disease and must be treated as such,” said Speaker DeLeo. “By ending the practice of sending civilly committed women to MCI-Framingham we are taking one more step to helping residents – our sisters, mothers, daughters, wives – recover. I’m proud of the landmark substance addiction legislation we have passed and the unprecedented funding increases for treatment, and I pledge unwavering commitment to fighting this devastating epidemic.”;

"The bill ends the practice of treating women with substance abuse issues like criminals,” said Senate President Rosenberg. “We need to treat substance abuse like the disease it is and provide access to treatment in an appropriate setting so these women have an opportunity to get on a path to recovery."

“People who are hooked on heroin and opioids need treatment and care,” said Attorney General Healey. “This new law will end the practice of sending women struggling with addiction to prison without access to the treatment services they need. As we continue to battle this epidemic, it’s critical we get people real help that will give them a fighting chance at a better life.”;

This reform, which was recommended as part of the Governor’s Opioid Working Group, will end the practice of sending women committed for treatment for a substance use disorder under section 35 of chapter 123 of the General Laws to MCI-Framingham.  For the past 25 years, individuals committed under section 35 have been sent to this correctional institution instead of a detox center—preventing the proper treatment options for women.  In the future, if the only appropriate setting for a civilly committed woman is a secure facility, women can only be committed to an approved facility by the Department of Public Health or the Department of Mental Health.

In the past year, the Baker-Polito Administration has added 28 beds at Shattuck and 15 beds at Taunton State Hospital, with an additional 30 beds at Taunton in the summer of 2016.  In addition, 58 treatment beds at Departments of Mental Health and Public Health facilities are under development with the first beds coming on line in January 2016.  Last July, Governor Baker allotted $5.8 million in a supplemental budget to move women civilly committed for substance abuse problems to a hospital, such as Shattuck or Taunton State Hospitals.

Today’s bill signing serves as the latest effort across state government to crack down on the opioid epidemic plaguing the Commonwealth and claiming four lives a day.  Earlier this month, the House passed a substance abuse treatment and prevention bill that is now pending in the Senate, and Governor Charlie Baker was recently joined by Attorney General Maura Healey, Representative John Fernandes and a representative from the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police to sign a fentanyl trafficking bill into law, authored by Attorney General Healey, to increase the penalty for the possession and distribution of fentanyl to 20 years for distributing more than 10 grams.

Separately, numerous recommendations from the Governor’s opioid working group have already been enacted to begin eradicating this public health crisis.  The administration has budgeted more than $114 million in spending for substance misuse prevention, education and treatment, increased bulk purchasing of Narcan in municipalities and changed reporting requirements for the Prescription Monitoring Program from 7 days to 24 hours.  One hundred and thirteen treatment beds have opened in six communities (Quincy, Plymouth, New Bedford, Boston, Westborough, Fall River) with more expected in Greenfield this winter.


Baker-Polito Administration To Invest $5 Million Targeting Chronically High Unemployment

Governor’s Chronic Unemployment Task Force Releases Recommendations to Address Economic Disparity

Governor Charlie Baker and Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Ronald L. Walker, II, joined members of the Governor’s Task Force on Persons Facing Chronically Higher Rates of Unemployment to announce new initiatives addressing higher rates of unemployment faced by some populations, and a $5 million investment in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 budget proposal to build a Massachusetts-based public workforce system that will enhance the existing federally-funded system. The state funds will provide grants to community-based organizations and others that partner with businesses to develop job training and employment opportunities for populations that face higher unemployment rates.

“Since taking office, our administration has focused on reaching individuals and families across the Commonwealth who have felt they have not been able to take advantage of or experience our state’s many economic strengths,” said Governor Baker.  “By building the capacity of community-based organizations and others who already have the expertise and experience working with individuals who face higher unemployment rates, we can to enable more people to find and keep jobs and support their families.

Last March, Governor Baker signed an Executive Order creating a task force to explore reasons for higher unemployment rates among certain groups, and find ways to improve economic opportunities. While the state’s unemployment rate is lower than the national average – at 4.7 percent in December – African-Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Persons with Disabilities, Native Americans, and recently-returned veterans, continue to experience higher unemployment rates, ranging from 7 to 12 percent.

 “There are still too many individuals for whom employment opportunities are infrequent or currently unattainable even in strong economic times for our Commonwealth,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “With these recommendations, we are going to empower those most involved within their communities and reach even more people in a meaningful way.”

Governor Baker’s FY ’17 budget will include:

1.     $2 million to create a new Economic Opportunity Fund, investing in community-based organizations who partner with businesses to offer job training and hiring opportunities for people who face employment barriers. The grants will allow organizations to provide a deeper level of engagement to help residents find a job.

2.     $2 million to the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund, marking the first time funding would be available in two consecutive years. The Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund is targeted toward unemployed or underemployed individuals who need job training or education to make the transition to employment.

3.     $1 million to expand statewide re-entry and job training programming for former criminal offenders re-entering society.

Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Walker chaired the Task Force that advised the Governor, consisting of administration officials, business leaders, educators, community-based organization representatives, and economic experts, who traveled around the state to listen to residents who face continued unemployment.

“Whatever their barriers, we realize certain people need a hands-on touch when it comes to job seeking and more attention than the federally-funded career centers are able to give them,” Secretary Walker said. “One of the recommendations from the Task Force is to build a Massachusetts-based public workforce system by leveraging community-based organizations, which can meet the specific needs of the target populations.”

The Task Force also recommends:

·       Improving the public workforce system through continued implementation of the federal Workforce Investment Opportunity Act of 2014. Through WIOA, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development is refocusing the state’s 32 One-Stop Career Centers with a “Demand-driven 2.0” strategy that requires career center officials to build relationships with employers in their regions to help clients find job opportunities.

·       Extending the Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) through March 2017, which links people with disabilities to job training.

·       Using the Career Centers to reengage long-term unemployed out of work for more than a year.


Baker-Polito Administration Proposes Increased Local Aid, Historic Education Funding

Municipalities to benefit from 100% of revenue growth, new Community Compact technology investments

Speaking at the Massachusetts Municipal Association’s (MMA) Annual Meeting the day following his State of the Commonwealth address, Governor Charlie Baker announced unrestricted local aid will increase by 100% of tax revenue growth in the Baker-Polito Administration’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 budget proposal, amounting to over $42 million. Governor Baker also announced that next week’s budget proposal will include a $72.1 million increase for Chapter 70 local education funding and a $2 million competitive Community Compact Information Technology (IT) capital grant program to drive innovation and efficiency through local technology improvements.

“Lt. Governor Polito and I are proud to follow through on our commitment to ensure that the Commonwealth’s cities and towns are benefitting from the grassroots economic growth driven by our communities,” said Governor Baker. “These investments are key to continue building stronger, safer communities for our families and ensuring schools across the Commonwealth are able to prepare our children for success.”;

Since Governor Baker announced the Community Compact Cabinet at last year’s MMA meeting, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito has served as a champion for the administration’s municipal partnerships, entering into 114 Community Compacts that represent over 380 community-crafted, mutual best practices aimed at improving local fiscal policies, sustainable energy practices and advancing economic development and affordable housing.

“Over the last year, we have built a strong partnership with our cities and towns serving our mutual constituents on the front lines every day,” said Lt. Governor Polito. “Our collaboration, this increased assistance and the active engagement municipalities have taken to identify and implement best practices through the Community Compact program, will ensure state and local government are working closer than ever to better serve the people of Massachusetts.”;

Compact communities also have access to incentives through various state grants and programming, beginning with last year’s round of MassWorks Infrastructure Program applications, and including the $2 million Community Compact IT Grant Program announced today. This competitive grant program funded through the FY 2016 capital budget will make grants of up to $400,000 available to Compact communities to invest in the implementation of innovative IT projects, including technology infrastructure and software or equipment purchases.  More information on the program and how Compact Communities can apply will be available at www.mass.gov/ccc.

“We faced a lot of difficult budget decisions over the past year that municipal officials can relate to,” said Kristen Lepore, Secretary of the Executive Office for Administration and Finance. “While the Commonwealth tightened our belts, just like cities and towns do on a regular basis, our commitment to increasing local aid remained a top priority of the Baker-Polito Administration.”;

In his first budget proposal for FY 2016, Governor Baker honored a commitment to increase unrestricted local aid by 75% of revenue growth in his first year and this year’s 4.3% increase honors a further commitment to increase local aid by 100% of projected revenue growth. In January, Secretary of Administration and Finance Kristen Lepore and the chairs of the Senate and House Ways and Means Committees announced a consensus projected revenue growth of 4.3%.

In December, the Baker-Polito Administration also filed municipal modernization legislation aimed at improving critical components of the partnership between state and municipal governments by eliminating or updating obsolete laws, promoting local independence, streamlining state oversight and providing municipalities with greater flexibility.


Baker-Polito Administration Awards $6.8 Million for Prevention of Prescription Drug Misuse Among Youth in 16 High Need Communities

Governor Charlie Baker and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) today awarded $6.8 million in grants to support Strategic Prevention Framework Partnership for Success 2015 (SPF-PFS) programs for prescription drug misuse prevention activities in 16 Massachusetts communities significantly impacted by opioid overdoses and overdose deaths.

“This support for communities in need is an important resource for fighting opioid misuse and preventing further tragedy,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “I look forward to our ongoing work with the legislature to pursue the tools necessary to curbing this public health crisis.”;

“This award is positive news for Massachusetts parents who are raising families in communities where the scourge of opioid addiction has taken its greatest toll,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “These families deserve our full attention as we strive to end opioid misuse across the state.”

The Baker-Polito Administration has implemented numerous reforms aimed at curbing the Commonwealth’s opioid epidemic, including $114 million in this year’s budget for substance abuse prevention, bulk purchasing of Narcan by municipalities and the announcement of a new, vastly improved Prescription Monitoring Program Online System.  Most recently, Governor Baker filed landmark legislation to provide medical personnel with the power to intervene with patients suffering from addiction, control the spread of addictive prescription opioids and increase education about substance use disorder (SUD) for providers and in the community. Over one hundred treatment beds have opened in communities across the Commonwealth, with more expected this winter.  A full update on the Governor’s Opioid Working Group’s progress can be found at: www.mass.gov/statewithoutstigma.

Funding for the SPF-PFS program is provided by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The goal of the program is to implement evidence-based prevention programs, policies, and practices to reduce prescription drug misuse among persons aged 12 to 25 years old in high-need communities.  The grant will provide $1.36 million in annual funding for a total of 5 years to partner programs in Boston, Brockton, Cambridge, Everett, Fall River, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, Medford, New Bedford, Quincy, Revere, Springfield, Taunton, Weymouth, and Worcester. Each community will receive $85,000 per year.

“This grant is an opportunity to provide invaluable resources to the grassroots efforts of our partners fighting this epidemic on the ground,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders. “Working together, we can implement proven strategies to address opioid misuse in ways that make sense for the specific needs of each community.”;

As part of the grant program, the DPH Bureau of Substance Abuse Services (BSAS) will work with funded communities to develop a prevention and evaluation plan that meets SPF-PFS requirements; build the implementation and evaluation capacity within these agencies; and select and deploy strategies and interventions that best address prescription drug misuse among young people within each specific community.

“In the world of public health, one thing we know for sure is that prevention works,” said DPH Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH. “We are delighted to be able to provide these communities with the tools and assistance they need to make a difference for the young people that they serve.”


Massachusetts Launches Comprehensive Digital Health Initiative

Industry, Healthcare & State and Local Government Partner to Enhance Economic Development, Patient Care in Growing Health Industry

Governor Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, Speaker Robert A. DeLeo and executives from the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership (MACP) joined leaders from across state government, healthcare, and the technology sector at Boston Children’s Hospital to announce a comprehensive public-private partnership designed to accelerate the competitiveness of the Commonwealth’s digital healthcare industry.

“Our administration is committed to making Massachusetts a national leader in digital health by partnering with private industry, convening key stakeholders and addressing market gaps,” said Governor Baker. “This emerging industry cluster has the potential to become a powerful driver of job creation across the Commonwealth, while also unlocking new advances in improving patient care and lowering health care costs.”

Digital health, or eHealth, is a rapidly growing sector at the intersection of healthcare and information technology, and according to a report by Goldman Sachs represents an approximately $32B market opportunity over the next decade. The sector spans a variety of technologies including electronic health records, consumer wearable devices, care systems, payment management, Big Data analytics and telemedicine among others, and has close connections to the state’s technology and life sciences sectors. Massachusetts is well-positioned for success in digital health as host to world-class healthcare and academic institutions, strong startup culture, significant venture capital investment, a dominant life sciences sector and roughly 250 existing digital health companies.

The initiative will bring public, private, academic, and healthcare leaders together to build a stronger and more connected statewide digital health ecosystem.  To support digital health startups, the City of Boston, Massachusetts eHealth Institute at MassTech (MeHI), and MACP announced the establishment of a digital health innovation hub. The initiative will provide space, programming and a strong industry network for digital health startups and will serve as a Boston “hub” for the industry. Programming through the hub will be managed and operated by MassChallenge.

"Strong public-private partnerships are what make our City, and our region, more competitive in the global economy," said Mayor Walsh. "We know that the digital healthcare industry is Boston's future, and I thank our state and private sector partners for their support.  By working together, we can maintain Boston's leadership in health care and the life sciences, and create an environment where the digital healthcare industry can thrive and we can better serve our patients and their families."

MACP also announced several private industry-led initiatives this morning that will help accelerate growth in the digital health sector, including innovative approaches to provide private funds for digital healthcare companies that are starting up, located in, or planning to re-locate to, Massachusetts. MACP also facilitated the development of standardized software, technology and sponsored research agreements and user guides to make it easier for entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and the private sector to do business with our world-class academic institutions, including the University of Massachusetts system, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northeastern University and Partners HealthCare. MACP will also host a second year of its Mentorship Speaker Series, with a focus on digital health, connecting high-level, experienced industry leaders across the state with entrepreneurs of emerging companies to discuss how to start and grow a successful tech business in Massachusetts.

“The innovation economy comprised of the life sciences and digital technology sectors is the future growth engine of our Commonwealth,” said Dr. Jeffrey Leiden, who led the Digital Health Initiative on behalf of MACP. “It has been a privilege for me to lead this outstanding group of public and private sector partners toward our shared goal of accelerating the growth of the digital healthcare industry in Massachusetts. With the strengths of our universities, academic medical centers, and life sciences companies, Massachusetts is uniquely positioned to succeed in digital healthcare and I’m thrilled to be part of the team that will make it happen.”

“Massachusetts residents and organizations are known worldwide for their brain power and industrious spirit,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo. “These traits uniquely position the Commonwealth to become global leaders in the digital healthcare sector. I am proud that the House’s past two economic development bills have supported eHealth programs because I believe this industry presents rich opportunities for Massachusetts. I look forward to collaborating with the Baker and Walsh Administrations, and local companies, to ensure that eHealth is an economic driver for Massachusetts.” 

Governor Baker and Secretary Ash have designated the Massachusetts eHealth Institute at MassTech (MeHI) as the state’s implementing agency.  Established in 2008 by the Legislature as a division of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, an economic development agency, MeHI works to promote and accelerate the use of digital healthcare, such as electronic health records and health information exchange.  Governor Baker announced today that he will file legislation to expand MeHI’s efforts to include digital healthcare cluster development activities.

Led by a Strategy Committee composed of leaders across industry, academia, healthcare, and government, MeHI will work on cluster development activities designed to promote and support the sector. MeHI will co-invest in the establishment of a digital healthcare hub in Boston, lead development of a market access program designed to help digital health innovations get to market faster by building strategic connections between entrepreneurs and the healthcare system, and partner with state agencies to better capture the “big data” opportunity in healthcare.

“The Baker-Polito Administration is creating jobs in all the Commonwealth’s regions by harnessing emerging technologies to strengthen our diverse innovation economy,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash. “This new statewide public-private partnership in digital health builds on a base of existing investments in an array of sectors, from biotech to cloud computing and flexible hybrid electronics. I look forward to continuing to collaborate with industry stakeholders and academic researchers to harness Massachusetts’ national leadership in research and development, and unlock new economic opportunities.”

Digital health is an emerging industry cluster identified by the Commonwealth’s economic development plan signed by Governor Baker on December 23rd.  The digital health market is emerging rapidly, and has potential to create multiple positive effects on the state’s economic bottom line by creating jobs, attracting investment, and developing solutions, which improve healthcare delivery and ultimately can help contain healthcare costs.

“Data and technology are powerful tools in our goal to improve health care outcomes, to integrate behavioral health and physical health care and to deliver on the promise of health care transparency,” said Executive Office of Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders.


Baker Administration Reacts to State’s Lead Ranking for Overall Quality from National Education Newspaper

Education Week’s Annual Quality Counts Report Also Names Commonwealth First in K-12 Achievement and first in the publication's Chance for Success Index

A national education newspaper, Education Week, released the 20th edition of its annual Quality Counts report listing Massachusetts as first in the nation in overall quality, with top honors in K-12 achievement and on the publication's Chance for Success Index, which considers outcomes from early childhood through adulthood.  In addition, Quality Counts highlights the state’s school turnaround initiatives in the article entitled, "In School Turnaround Efforts, Massachusetts Enlists Districts."

“Our administration is thrilled that Massachusetts continues to be recognized as a national leader in the quality of education that we offer our students,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We thank all the students, administrators, teachers, families, and communities who have helped to make this a reality and are pleased with the state’s improvements over last year’s top rankings.”

“Building off of last year’s high rankings, Governor Baker and I are pleased to see our students continue to excel in the classroom,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito.  “Our administration strives to deliver a quality education to every student, regardless of zip code, and looks forward to future successes in the Commonwealth.”

“We are proud that we have received the highest overall score in this report for the second year in a row, and specifically topped the Chance for Success Index for the 9th consecutive year, as well as the K-12 Achievement Index every year since it was introduced,” said Education Secretary Jim Peyser. “While we celebrate this tremendous success, we strive to make even larger gains in the next few years by ensuring that every child gets the quality education that they deserve.”

“Massachusetts has proven once again that it is truly the nation’s leader when it comes to educating our students,” said Higher Education Commissioner Carlos Santiago. “We continue to benefit from being the state with the highest percentage of adults with a post-secondary degree. The students, faculty, and staff across the higher education system of the Commonwealth have a lot to be proud of as we celebrate this achievement.”

"I congratulate the Commonwealth's educators, students and families for doing the smart, hard work that has again put Massachusetts at the top of Education Week's Quality Counts rankings,” said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester. “I am proud to lead a strong K-12 system in which educators are dedicated to the success of all students."

“Through the dedication and hard work of our early educators, Department staff and with the support of Governor Baker and the Legislature, Massachusetts has built an early education and care system that strengthens the present and future of our Commonwealth,” said Early Education and Care Commissioner Tom Weber.

More information about the 2016 edition of Education Week’s “Quality Counts Report” can be found here: http://www.edweek.org/go/qc16.

Education Week’s press release can be found here: http://www.edweek.org/media/qualitycounts2016_release.pdf.

Baker-Polito Administration Announces $83.5 Million for Career Vocational Technical Education

Significantly expands access to high-quality career education programs aligned with workforce needs

Governor Charlie Baker, Secretary of Education James Peyser, Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Ronald Walker II, and Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash announced a series of new initiatives to support career vocational technical education, including $83.5 million to be proposed between the Governor’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 budget recommendation and new capital grant funding to be filed in an economic development bill next week.

“With too many good-paying jobs going unfilled, we are pleased to announce this critical investment in our career and technical schools,” said Governor Baker.  “Our proposal will make it possible for more students to explore a pathway to success through stronger partnerships with our schools and local businesses in the Commonwealth.”

The funding in the FY17 budget will be coupled with a substantial capital grant program for vocational equipment that further aligns the administration’s investments with local economic and workforce development needs and employment partnerships:

1.     $75 million over five years: new capital authorization to fund grants for equipment to expand and improve career technical education programs, building on a $9.2 million Skills Capital grant program announced this year.

2.     $7.5 million: work-based learning grants, including nearly doubling support for school-to-career connecting activities to $5.5 million, and doubling support for Dual Enrollment to $2 million, to expand and replicate STEM-focused early college career pathways, including middle school curriculum and workplace experience and learning.

3.     $1 million: new Career Technical Partnership Grants, funded through federal Perkins Act grant funding, to strengthen relationships between vocational schools, comprehensive high schools, and employers. 

“Massachusetts has some of the strongest career-technical programs in the country, at both the high school and college levels, but access and quality are uneven across the commonwealth, and there’s currently little alignment across education levels,” said Secretary Peyser. “Our efforts will significantly expand student access to high-quality career education programs in STEM fields, manufacturing and traditional trades, with a focus on underserved populations and communities.”;

“Finding ways to make sure people get the skills and job training they need to get a good paying job is one of the biggest challenges before us,” said Secretary Walker. “With these initiatives we will engage employers as full partners in program design and implementation to help them create a pipeline of workers.”

“Vocational institutions are an important part of training the workforce to address the skills gap,” said Secretary Ash. “These additional resources will continue to equip vocational institutions as they train the next generation of skilled workers who will help grow the Commonwealth’s economy.”;

To take advantage of growing job opportunities in the trades and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, the administration is putting forward a set of proposals and initiatives that will strengthen and expand the capacity of our vocational schools and community colleges by upgrading their capital equipment through a matching grant program.   In the FY17 budget, they will prioritize engaging employers as full partners in program design and implementation, to create an effective jobs pipeline, as well as broadening the reach of STEM-focused career education by developing more early college pathway programs and expanding the number of students who graduate from high school with real work experience. In addition, the administration will utilize federal grants to deepen program alignment and integration among community colleges, regional vocational schools, and in-district vocational programs.

The Governor’s Workforce Skills Cabinet was created by executive order on February 25, 2015 to align education, workforce and economic development strategies across the state. Governor Baker tapped Education Secretary James Peyser, Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Ronald Walker, II, and Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash, who have been engaging with business leaders and educators around the state to find ways to create partnerships between the employer community, the state workforce system and education in order to open up more job opportunities around the Commonwealth.