A penny on each dollar collected by the state’s 6.26 percent sales tax (excluding meals) goes to fund the MBTA. That means Berkshire County residents fund the MBTA with every purchase, even though the MBTA’s services do not extend beyond Worcester County.
Senate Bill 101 provides that horse racing licenses in locations that previously were granted commercial racing licenses would need no further approval from the municipality. In Great Barrington, that would mean neither the selectboard nor the citizens would ever have a vote.
As part of an investment in rural communities, Hinds and his colleagues recently pushed through a $1 million supplement to a $1.5 billion school aid package. “Rural” is a category that’s slowly being replaced by the more inclusive “Low and Declining Enrollment.”
School districts across the Commonwealth will benefit from updates to the existing Chapter 70 funding formula, along with increased state investment in other vital education aid programs such as transportation, school construction and renovation and special education.
“Over the past few weeks I have met, spoken with, and received testimony from many in my District who are concerned with this proposal: either because they do not support horse racing as an industry, or because they are concerned with the legislation as it is currently drafted.” –Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield
In a letter to the editor, Scott Plantier writes, “Sterling Suffolk Racecourse successfully lobbied our legislature for loophole-laden legislation (S.101 and H.13) specifically aimed at sleepy, small-town Massachusetts.”
Town officials have said Sterling Suffolk Racecourse would need at least two special permits: One for commercial amusement and another for floodplain protection, and possibly a third for work in the town’s water quality protection overlay district.
Suffolk needs a change in state law to permit it to hold races in Great Barrington while at the same time allowing it to maintain its simulcasting and betting operations back in East Boston. Racing at the fairgrounds would also require permits from the town.
Berkshire Community College and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts have announced that the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education has awarded the institutions $24,980 to establish the STEM Transfer Summer Bridge Program.
Sen. Adam G. Hinds, D-Pittsfield, announced that Wednesday that the Massachusetts Senate adopted his budget amendment to increase funding for the Rural School Aid grant program by $1 million, raising the total appropriation for this account to $2.5 million in the fiscal year 2020 Senate budget.
Furthering the Senate’s continued commitment to support working families and those in need, the budget bill eliminates the so-called “Cap on Kids” and includes $30 million for the Low Income Heating Energy Assistance Program, among other considerations.
Through a partnership with the Nature Conservancy, the Schenob Brook restoration/Becker Pond Dam removal project will benefit wild Eastern brook trout and other species threatened by the effects of climate change.
Pignatelli and Gobi were responsible for the passage of a $2.4 billion environmental bond bill, signed by Gov. Charlie Baker in August, which allocated $55 million in funds for river and wetland restoration programs across the Commonwealth.
Sen. Adam G. Hinds, D-Pittsfield, has announced that he has been appointed to co-chair the Special Commission on Improving Efficiencies in Student Transportation by Senate President Karen E. Spilka, D-Ashland.
Massachusetts Association of School Committees executive director Glenn Koocher explained that the ability of a school district’s population to fund local education determines how much state aid the district gets from the state.
Officials say the foundation budget is adjusted and increased each year but mostly along the lines of inflation. But several expenses school districts are confronted with increase at a pace that greatly exceeds inflation: health insurance for current employees and retirees; special education, especially out-of-district placements; English language instruction for non-native speakers; preschool; data collection, including how students are counted; and transportation.
“I definitely share in the disappointment about the lack of net metering increases. I understand there are a lot of folks in the Berkshires and in my district who are vocal proponents of lifting and even eliminating the cap on metering credits.”
— State Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli
The CARE Act is the result of extensive work researching evidence-based best practices and collaborating with healthcare researchers and clinicians, hospitals, behavioral health providers, law enforcement officials, patient advocates, and individuals with lived experience to develop policies to address the opioid epidemic.
Among the issues Amatul-Wadud is raising in her run for Congress are climate change; universal public education; and affordable, high-speed internet access for every resident of the 1st Congressional District.