Friday, February 20, 2015

House Minority Leader Brad Jones’ Statement on Governor Baker’s MBTA Special Panel Proposal

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) issued the following statement today regarding Governor Charlie Baker’s announcement that he is appointing a special panel to identify the underlying causes of the ongoing problems at the MBTA and to recommend potential solutions for improving the MBTA’s governance, structure, finances and operations:

“Governor Baker's Special Panel to Review the MBTA is a strong and positive step in moving the troubled public transit system forward. The Special Panel will work to provide a clear picture of where the MBTA currently stands in order to make the best recommendations and establish appropriate benchmarks to put the system on sound footing both functionally and financially.

The seven member panel represents the diversity of experience and expertise necessary to undertake this review.  Having worked with Mayor Joe Sullivan directly on MBTA issues during his tenure as the House Chairman of the Transportation committee, I am pleased to see his involvement.

It is my hope that Governor Baker’s Special Panel will expeditiously undertake their charge and report back in relatively short order so we can move quickly on their recommendations to provide the people of Massachusetts with the transportation system that they deserve.”

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Rep. Muradian Appointed to Economic Development Special Commission

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) is pleased to announce his appointment of Representative David Muradian (R-Grafton) to a special state commission charged with developing policy responses and recommendations to ensure that so-called “edge communities” can participate in state development initiatives and benefit from state resources.

The Grafton Republican will join fellow legislators, municipal officials and representatives from a variety of planning, transit and development agencies on the 27-member 495/Metro West Suburban Edge Community Commission, which is being chaired by Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash.  The commission will investigate and study the various development challenges facing edge communities, including transportation, water, cellular and energy infrastructure needs, transit services, residential development, reuse of former industrial facilities and historic mills, brownfields reclamation, and downtown redevelopment issues.

The special commission, created through an outside section of the Fiscal Year 2015 state budget, defines an edge community as any municipality with a population of not more than 35,000 that is not adjacent to a gateway municipality.  Gateway communities are defined in statute as municipalities with populations greater than 35,000 and less than 250,000 with a median household income below the Commonwealth’s average and a rate of educational attainment of a bachelor’s degree or above that is below the Commonwealth’s average.

“Representative Muradian has a strong understanding of the challenges facing our cities and towns, having served as a legislative aide in the House of Representatives for seven years before running for office,” said Representative Jones.  “I am confident he will bring a wealth of institutional and real-world knowledge to this special commission as it seeks to find ways to remove some of the barriers impeding development in our edge communities.”

“I am honored to have been appointed to this special commission by Representative Jones,” said Representative Muradian.  “As a lifelong resident of the Blackstone Valley, I am deeply committed to the communities I serve and look forward to working with my colleagues to find ways to promote enhanced economic development throughout my district and around the state.”

Representative Muradian represents the Ninth Worcester District, which consists of the communities of Grafton, Northbridge and Upton.  He is currently serving his first term in the Massachusetts Legislature, but previously worked in the State House as an aide to former state Representative and Assistant Minority Leader George N. Peterson, Jr., who opted not to run for re-election in 2014 and was recently appointed as the new Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Fish & Game.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Rep. Whipps Lee Appointed to State Task Force on Child Sexual Abuse Prevention

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) is pleased to announce his appointment of Representative Susannah Whipps Lee (R-Athol) to a state task force charged with developing guidelines and tools to assist organizations serving children and youth with the implementation of sexual abuse prevention and intervention plans.

The Athol Republican will join fellow legislators as well as representatives from a host of early education, youth service provider and child advocacy organizations on the 22-member Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Task Force, which is being co-chaired by Massachusetts Child Advocate Gail Garinger and Children’s Trust Fund Executive Director Suzin Bartley.  As part of its mission, the task force will develop a 5-year plan for using community education and other strategies to increase public awareness about child sexual abuse, including how to recognize signs, minimize risk and act on suspicions or disclosures of such abuse.
“Representative Whipps Lee has a long and distinguished record of active involvement in her district as a volunteer for a number of charitable organizations, and as a successful business owner,” said Representative Jones.  “I am confident that she will bring a wealth of real-world knowledge and expertise to this task force, and will play a key role in developing a comprehensive plan to address the terrible scourge of child sexual abuse.”

“I take very seriously the responsibility of protecting some of our most vulnerable residents, and I am honored to have been appointed to this task force by Representative Jones,” said Representative Whipps Lee.  “I look forward to working with the members of the task force to identify the most effective ways to help prevent young children from being victimized and to ensure that youth organizations around the state are able to recognize the warning signs of sexual abuse so they can take swift action to put an end to the abuse.”
A member of the Athol Board of Selectmen, Representative Whipps Lee is currently serving her first term in the Massachusetts Legislature, after defeating Democratic incumbent Denise Andrews in the November 2014 state election.  She represents the Second Franklin District, which consists of the communities of Erving, Gill, New Salem, Orange, Warwick, Wendell, Belchertown, Athol, Petersham, Phillipston, Royalston, and Templeton.

The Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Task Force is scheduled to file its final report and recommendations by December 31, 2015.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

House Minority Leader Brad Jones Lauds Governor's Plan for Tax Amnesty

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) today applauded Governor Charlie Baker’s decision to include a tax amnesty proposal as part of his plan to close a $768 million budget shortfall for Fiscal Year 2015.

Under the Governor’s proposal, which requires legislative approval, the Department of Revenue (DOR) would be directed to offer a two-month corporate tax amnesty program before the current fiscal year ends on June 30th.  Participating businesses would have the opportunity to pay their outstanding tax liabilities to the Commonwealth without having to pay any financial penalties.  The Baker Administration estimates the tax amnesty will generate about $18 million in revenues.

“I’m pleased to see Governor Baker include this initiative as part of his plan to close the current budget deficit,” said Representative Jones.  “Tax amnesties are a great way for the state to collect outstanding tax revenues that might otherwise have been foregone.  Prior tax amnesties offered to individual taxpayers have proven to be highly successful, and there is no reason to believe that a corporate tax amnesty won’t be just as popular.”

The Governor’s corporate tax amnesty proposal mirrors a bill filed by Representative Jones in January, House Docket 2409.  The tax amnesty program will be made available to businesses organized as corporations, Limited Liability Corporations, S-Corporations, Financial Institutions, and other corporate taxpayers.

Last year, DOR conducted a successful two-month tax amnesty program for individual taxpayers who owed state income tax after Representative Jones secured the necessary language through a budget amendment.  A total of $57 million in outstanding taxes was collected from 61,000 individual filers during the most recent tax amnesty.

In 2010, a two-month tax amnesty program generated over $32.6 million in full and partial payments made by 8,495 eligible taxpayers, exceeding DOR’s projections of $20 million.  A similar amnesty program in 2008 also netted over $30 million.

If approved by the Legislature, the corporate tax amnesty proposal would represent the first such program offered to businesses in Massachusetts in 12 years.  Previous tax amnesties implemented in 2002 and 2003 brought in $91.6 million and $174 million, respectively.