Governor Baker Statement on Senate Passage of MBTA Fiscal Management and Control Board                                    

Governor Charlie Baker issued a statement on the Senate’s passage of a budget amendment establishing a fiscal management and control board to oversee the MBTA:

“Establishing a focused, dedicated group of experts to diagnose and fix the problems of the MBTA is an important first step toward creating the world class transit system the Commonwealth deserves and I am pleased the Senate acted on this measure tonight.  I thank Speaker DeLeo for his leadership on this issue, and the House for also including an important provision aimed at granting the T the necessary flexibility to increase both the system’s efficiency and the speed at which reforms may be enacted – and I look forward to the Senate adopting the bipartisan measures to fix our rapid transit system.  Taxpayers contribute over a billion dollars to this system every year while millions of riders depend on it to get to work and pay the bills, so we owe it to them to act now and fix the T.”


Massachusetts New Governor's Corner Charlie Baker

Governor Baker Grants $5 Million for Regional School Transportation Funding

Investment supports efforts of Commonwealth’s 85 regional school districts

June 2015

Governor Charlie Baker announced today a $5 million investment in the Regional School Transportation Reimbursement Fund (RTR Fund) that supports student transportation efforts of 85 regional school systems throughout the Commonwealth. The Baker-Polito administration made the appropriation through a supplemental allotment to the RTR Fund for Fiscal Year 2015.

“Our communities depend on local aid for transportation and education and that support remains a top priority for our administration despite the budget deficit we inherited upon taking office,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We are proud to include in our budget proposal significant increases for education and are pleased to now take this step to support those districts that need it.”

“The Massachusetts Association of Regional Schools (MARS) is very appreciative of the Baker Administration for providing $5 million for regional transportation during this fiscal year,” said MARS Executive Director Stephen Hemman.  “The large 9c regional transportation cut by the previous administration has caused fiscal concerns within regions. This will help toward providing regions with funds that they were counting on receiving this year. We clearly understand what the Baker administration faced when they came into office and we say thank you for your efforts in providing these funds.”;

Governor Baker Announces Medical Marijuana To Move Ahead To Sale

One-time waiver granted for limited amounts to be sold, while labs secure more rigorous testing

June 2015

Governor Charlie Baker approved the issuance of a one-time, temporary waiver that will allow the first medical marijuana dispensary to begin selling its product after meeting final inspection protocols.

One of the Commonwealth's first medical marijuana dispensaries, Alternative Therapy Group (ATG) of Salem, MA had requested the waiver because labs in Massachusetts are not yet able to complete the array of quality testing required by Department of Public Health protocols.

“Patients have waited to access marijuana for medical purposes for far too long,” said Governor Baker. “This waiver will allow industry laboratories a little more time to reach full operation while providing safe amounts of medical marijuana for qualifying patients who need it.”;

In line with several other leading states, Massachusetts has adopted an aggressive approach when it comes to testing, requiring medical marijuana be examined for cannabinoids, solvents, mycotoxins and other microbiological contaminants along with heavy metals and pesticides.

On the first batch of marijuana submitted for testing by Salem's ATG, the lab was unable to test for 7 of the 18 mandated pesticides, which would make it unable to be sold under state regulations. Under the waiver granted today, marijuana for medical use can be distributed with a label that discloses to the consumer the chemicals that were not tested.

“We are not lowering our standards for the testing of marijuana for medical purposes. Safety is job one,” said Marylou Sudders, Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. “The waiver allows for small amounts of marijuana to be dispensed for medical use while testing facilities ramp up.”;

Under the 3-month waiver, ATG may only dispense a maximum of 4.23 ounces of marijuana to any qualifying patient for their sixty-day supply and must provide patients with instructions to consume no more than 2 grams per day. During that time DPH will review the standards for naturally occurring minerals to ensure they are attainable for future dispensaries.

“We carefully considered the initial testing results and we will review the standards going forward,” said Dr. Monica Bharel, Commissioner of the Department of Public Health. “We believe these levels provide for patient health protections while allowing the first dispensary to distribute marijuana for medical use as voted on in 2012.”

Governor Baker Grants $1.25M to Combat Youth Violence and Gang Activity

June 2015

Governor Charlie Baker today announced a $1.25 million funding increase for the Shannon Grant program to support regional and multi-disciplinary approaches to combat gang and youth violence. Communities and organizations from Pittsfield to Boston will see a funding boost to combat youth violence this summer.

“I am pleased that we are now able to increase our investment in these important programs as summer sets in to combat youth violence and gang activity that threatens public safety and access to opportunity in communities across the Commonwealth,” said Governor Baker. “These programs have delivered meaningful results and show the positive impact we can have when state and local partners join forces to tackle a serious and recurring problem such as youth violence.”

The Shannon Community Safety Initiative provides funding to communities that demonstrate high levels of youth violence and gang problems, a comprehensive plan to work with multi-disciplinary partners, and a commitment to coordinated prevention and intervention strategies.

“As summer begins, it is crucial that we continue to find ways to engage our youth and provide them with real alternatives to violence. Fully funding the Shannon program enables my department to continue working with at risk youth and provide them opportunities that might not otherwise be available,” said Commissioner William Evans. “I want to thank Governor Baker for his commitment to public safety and protecting our youth.”;

Governor Baker authorized a $1.25 million supplemental allotment to the 15 Shannon Grant Community Safety Initiative Sites and Local Action Research Partners (LARPs). Communities customarily use this funding for social intervention and opportunity provision programs as well as gang task force personnel costs and overtime crime analysis. The governor’s action means that the Shannon Community Safety Initiative will be fully funded at $8.25 million.

The following are the communities and partners slated to receive supplemental funds:

Shannon Grant Sites:

·         Boston - $266,929.45

·         Brockton - $54,863.79

·         Fall River - $55,526.40

·         Fitchburg (incl. Gardner, Leominster) - $71,898.31

·         Haverhill (incl. Methuen) - $48,336.24

·         Holyoke (incl. Chicopee) - $58,761.45

·         Lawrence - $88,173.85

·         Lowell - $68,203.93

·         Lynn - $88,840.31

·         Metro Mayors Coalition (incl. Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Medford, Quincy, Revere, Somerville, Winthrop) - $45,288.10

·         New Bedford - $66,641.00

·         Pittsfield - $44,808.31

·         Springfield - $103,310.79

·         Taunton (incl. Attleboro, Norton) - $44,808.70

·         Worcester - $61,833.40

Local Action Research Partners (LARP):

·         City of Brockton - $8,315.79

·         Community Resources for Justice - $10,728.44

·         UMass Lowell (Haverhill Site) - $4,076.58

·         UMass Lowell (Lowell Site) - $10,146.61

·         UMass Amherst - $12,349.28

·         North Shore Community College - $9,689.05

·         UMass Boston - $10,736.84

·         Roger Williams University - $3,101.80

·         Clark University - $12,631.58

Baker Administration Secures One-Year Waiver from Affordable Care Act Provision

Delays rate hikes for Massachusetts small businesses, employees due to federal healthcare reform

Jime 2015

Governor Charlie Baker announced that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has secured a one-year waiver from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), authorizing the Commonwealth to maintain the use of its existing rating factors that are otherwise prohibited under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Governor Baker made the request to Health and Human Services Secretary Burwell in April because of the concern about the impact the ACA market rules will have on small businesses.

“Protecting small businesses from massive insurance rate hikes is essential to making sure job creators continue to thrive here and I am grateful the Obama administration granted Massachusetts this flexibility,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The Commonwealth has been a national leader when it comes to making sure our residents are insured and able to receive the care they deserve and we must protect that progress.”

The waiver from U.S. HHS extends the Commonwealth’s current transition period first granted in 2013 and extended in 2014, allowing small group market issuers to continue using 2/3 of current ratings factors through January 1, 2017, after which the ratings factors will be reduced to 1/3, before being phased out entirely on January 1, 2018.

Massachusetts insured a majority of its residents under healthcare reform in 2006, establishing a state marketplace that merged small group and individual insurance markets. The ratings factors served as a protection for small employers who took on risks from the individual insurance market.

Click here to view the letter granting the extension from U.S. HHS Secretary Burwell to Baker Administration Health Connector Executive Director, Louis Gutierrez.