OTR: State Senate president discusses need for tax reform in Mass.
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OTR: State Senate president discusses need for tax reform in Mass.

OTR: State Senate president discusses need for tax reform in Massachusetts

IT’S SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 3RD. MATT SENATE PRESIDENT KAREN SPILKA IS OUR GUEST. LET’S GO ON THE RECORD. IT’S EXPENSIVE TO LIVE IN MASSACHUSETTS. WE ALL KNOW THAT. BUT CAN THERE BE SIGNIFICANT TAX REFORM BY THE END OF THE YEAR? OUR GUEST SAYS YES, BUT HOW WILL IT GET DONE? LET’S FIND OUT FROM WCVB, CHANNEL FIVE, THE INSIDE WORD FROM WASHINGTON TO BEACON HILL. TODAY’S NEWSMAKERS ARE GOING ON THE RECORD. AND WELCOME TO OTR. I’M BEN SIMMONEAU ALONG WITH NOW ON NEWSCENTER 5 POLITICAL REPORTER SHARMAN SACCHETTI ED HARDING. HE IS OFF ON THIS HOLIDAY WEEKEND AND SENATE PRESIDENT KAREN SPILKA JOINS US AT THE TABLE. SHE’S A DEMOCRAT FROM ASHLAND REPRESENTING THE SECOND MIDDLESEX AND NORFOLK DISTRICT. SHE SERVED AS SENATE PRESIDENT SINCE 2018. SHE’S A LAWYER, AN ADVOCATE ON MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES AND HOLDS DEGREES FROM CORNELL AND NORTH EASTON. THANKS FOR BEING WITH US ON A HOLIDAY WEEKEND. THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME. YES, NICE TO SEE YOU. AND SO LET’S START WITH TAX REFORM. FOR MORE THAN A YEAR, PEOPLE HERE IN MASSACHUSETTS HAVE FACED RISING COSTS FOR HOUSING, UTILITIES AND ALSO GROCERIES. MORE PEOPLE ARE LEAVING THE STATE. THE GOVERNOR SAYS TAX RELIEF IS NEEDED TO KEEP THIS STATE COMPETITIVE. WHEN WILL LAWMAKERS GET BACK TO WORK AND DELIVER ON THE TAX CUTS THAT THEY PROMISED MORE THAN A YEAR AGO? WELL, A TAX RELIEF IS STILL A TOP PRIORITY FOR ME. I SAID IT LAST SESSION AND IT STILL IS THE TOP PRIORITY FOR ME TO GET DONE. I’M REALLY PROUD OF THE SENATE’S VERSION OF TAX RELIEF. WE FOCUSED ON RELIEF FOR WORKING FAMILIES, EXPANDING AND SHORING UP THE MIDDLE CLASS AND DOING THINGS LIKE HELPING OUR RENTERS, OUR SENIORS, OUR HOMELESS. A LOT OF MONEY FOR HOUSING, PRODUCTION AND OTHER THINGS. BUT WE DIDN’T WAIT. OUR BUDGET HAS A LOT OF RELIEF. WE HAVE THE UNIVERSAL FREE SCHOOL MEALS SO THAT NOT ONLY WILL OUR KIDS NOT GO TO SCHOOL HUNGRY, THAT’S $1,200 PER STUDENT FOR EACH FAMILY THAT THEY SAVE UNDER THAT PROGRAM. WE HAVE EARLY EDUCATION AND CARE, $1.5 BILLION TO HELP NOT ONLY THE PROVIDERS, BUT GIVE ASSISTANCE TO THE FAMILIES TO MAKE IT MORE AFFORDABLE FOR THEM. WE HAVE FREE COMMUNITY COLLEGE FOR OVER 25 AND FREE COMMUNITY COLLEGE FOR THOSE ASPIRING NURSES, WHICH WE NEED DESPERATELY IN OUR SYSTEM. AND WE ARE GOING TO BE TALKING ABOUT THAT. BUT WHEN DO YOU THINK THAT THAT TAXPAYERS WILL ACTUALLY START TO SEE BIGGER CHANGES, THE BIGGER CHANGES THAT WERE FLOATED TO THEM MORE THAN A YEAR AGO? WELL, I JUST WANTED TO TO MENTION THAT THOSE IN THE BUDGET ARE ALSO HUMONGOUS FREE COMMUNITY COLLEGE. THAT IS A REALLY BIG CHANGE. BUT AS FAR AS CHECKS, THOUGH, GETTING CHECKS BACK IN THE MAIL, WE DID GET CHECKS LAST YEAR, BUT IT WASN’T FROM THE LEGISLATURE OR THE GOVERNOR, AS YOU KNOW, IMPLEMENTED THAT RIGHT. BUT IT WAS THE THE STATE IMPLEMENTED. IT BASICALLY. IT WAS THE 62 F ISSUE. BUT I MEAN, THE RELIEF UNDER THE TAX PLAN IS EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT, RENTAL ASSISTANCE SINCE CHILD CARE, THE ESTATE TAX AND OTHER THINGS THAT THAT WE ARE PICKING UP AND WORKING ON AND AS I SAID, IT IS AND IT REMAINS A TOP PRIORITY WITH SUCH A SHORT WINDOW, THOUGH, JUST AS YOU’RE GETTING BACK TO WORK AFTER LABOR DAY. AND BEFORE YOU BREAK FOR THE HOLIDAYS, YOU THINK SOMETHING CAN GET DONE IN THAT AMOUNT OF TIME. YES, I DO. BOTH HOUSES. YOU THINK YOU CAN BOTH FIND AGREEMENT? YEAH, I DO. ALL RIGHT. AS YOU WELL KNOW, WE HAVE A TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM IN CRISIS. EIGHT MONTHS INTO THIS NEW DEMOCRATIC ADMINISTRATION, GINA FIANDACA THE MOST PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT CABINET SECRETARY. SHE DEPARTS. NO REAL EXPLANATION GIVEN HERE. WHY DON’T WE KNOW EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED WITH FIANDACA? DON’T YOU THINK VOTERS HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW WHAT WENT ON? YOU KNOW, I DON’T KNOW. I WORKED WITH GINA FOR THE SHORT PERIOD OF TIME. I THOUGHT SHE HAD A GREAT BACKGROUND. I WISH HER WELL AND I BELIEVE WHO’S TAKING OVER, AT LEAST ON AN INTERIM BASIS, WILL BE TERRIFIC AS WELL. AND MY FEELING IS WHOEVER IS IN THAT CAPACITY SINCE IT IS SUCH A CRITICAL SECRETARIAT AND TRANSPORTATION IS SO IMPORTANT TO THE COMMONWEALTH THAT I’LL WORK WITH, WELL, WHOEVER IS IN THAT POSITION. DO YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, THOUGH, ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED? I MEAN, IT’S A PRETTY SHORT TENURE. SHE WAS IN. I BELIEVE THAT SHE MUST HAVE LEFT FOR FOR A GOOD REASONS. AND WHOEVER COMES IN PERMANENTLY AGAIN, I’LL WORK WITH BECAUSE WE HAVE A LOT TO DO IN TRANSPORTATION. WHEN YOU THINK THE GOVERNOR OUGHT TO BE MORE TRANSPARENT ABOUT IT, YOU KNOW, I THINK THAT IT’S UP TO THE GOVERNOR FOR THIS. AS YOU KNOW, WHOEVER, AGAIN, WHOEVER COMES IN, I ASSUME THAT THAT THE PERSON WHO’S INTERIM WILL WORK. WELL AND BE OUT THERE AND MAKE SOME CHANGES. HOPEFULLY, AND WORK WITH THE MBTA AND OUR RTA’S ACROSS THE STATE. AND AND IMPROVE OUR COMMUTER RAIL AND ALL THE OTHER ISSUES THAT ARE BEFORE US. ALL RIGHT. LET’S MOVE TO THE MIGRANT CRISIS, SOMETHING THAT MADE BIG NEWS LAST WEEK. GOVERNOR HEALEY IS CALLING UP THE NATIONAL GUARD TO HELP MASSACHUSETTS HANDLE IT. SHE’S ALREADY DECLARED A STATE OF EMERGENCY MASS ACHUSETTS IS SPENDING $45 MILLION A MONTH TO HELP SHELTER MIGRANTS. NOW, DO YOU THINK THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE DOING MORE? ABSOLUTELY. ABSOLUTELY ROWLEY I AGREE. I THINK IT’S GREAT THAT THE GOVERNOR IS CALLING OUT THE NATIONAL GUARD. I THINK THAT WE NEED THAT ASSISTANCE. WE NEED THAT COORDINATION, AND WE NEED THAT HELP. BUT I ALSO THINK IT IMPRESSES UPON NOT ONLY OUR RESIDENTS, BUT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT THAT THIS IS AN EMERGENCY. IT HEIGHTENS THAT EMERGENCY LEVEL. WE NEED HELP. WE NEED HELP IN FUNDING. WE NEED CONGRESS TO DO FEDERAL IMMIGRATION REFORM. AND WE NEED THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO ALLOW US TO HAVE PERMITS TO GIVE PERMITS FOR THOSE FOLKS TO ACTUALLY WORK. WHAT ABOUT WHAT ABOUT THE RIGHT TO SHELTER LAW, THOUGH? CAN WE TALK ABOUT THAT? SHOULD THAT BE CHANGED AT ALL THAT WAS PUT IN PLACE A LONG TIME AGO WHEN THINGS WERE VASTLY DIFFERENT THAN THEY ARE NOW. SO, YOU KNOW, AS YOU’RE CORRECT, IT WAS PUT IN PLACE ABOUT 40 YEARS AGO, IF I BELIEVE. RIGHT. SO IT HASN’T BEEN A PROBLEM BEFORE. I DON’T THINK THAT THAT IS THE BIGGEST PROBLEM NOW. I THINK THAT WE DO WE DO HAVE FOLKS COMING OVER SOME OF THE FOLKS THAT ARE FALLING UNDER THE RIGHT TO SHELTER AND THE NEED FOR SHELTER ARE OUR RESIDENTS AS WELL. SO, AGAIN, I THINK THAT IF WE HAVE SOME MORE FEDERAL ASSISTANCE AND HELP IN THE AREAS THAT I JUST OUTLINED THAT WE’D BE ABLE TO TO, YOU KNOW, DEAL WITH THIS BETTER. BUT IT IS AN EMERGENCY. THESE ARE FOLKS THAT YOU DON’T THINK THE LAW SHOULD BE CHANGED AT ALL. IT’S SOMETHING YOU KNOW, CERTAINLY WE COULD LOOK AT. BUT I THINK THESE THESE ARE CHILDREN AND FAMILIES. AND AGAIN, WE’RE ALL IMMIGRANTS. UNLESS YOUR FAMILY IS OF NATIVE AMERICAN DESCENT, WE’RE ALL IMMIGRANTS. MY GRANDFATHER FLED EUROPE WITH JUST THE CLOTHES ON HIS BACK. HE WOKE UP ONE MORNING. HIS BEST FRIEND WAS LITERALLY HANGING FROM HIS TOWN SQUARE AND HIS FATHER SAID TO HIM, WE NEED TO GET YOU OUT YOUR NEXT. SO PEOPLE ARE LEAVING A LOT OF THE COUNTRIES TO SAVE THEIR LIVES AND THEIR CHILDREN’S LIVES. ALL RIGHT. STATE AUDITOR DIANA DIZOGLIO IS PUSHING AHEAD IN HER FIGHT TO AUDIT THE LEGISLATURE. SHE’S ASKED THE ATTORNEY GENERAL TO SUPPORT HER OFFICE IN TRYING TO TAKE THE HOUSE AND THE SENATE TO COURT. SHE’S ALSO CONSIDERING A BALLOT QUESTION. DO YOU BELIEVE THE VOTERS HERE SHOULD BE THE ULTIMATE DECIDER IN WHETHER THE AUDITOR HAS THE POWER TO AUDIT THE LEGISLATURE? WELL, I BELIEVE THAT THAT RIGHT NOW THE AUDITOR DOES NOT HAVE THE POWER, EITHER STATUTORY OR CONSTITUTIONALLY, UNDER THE SEPARATION OF POWERS. AND THAT IS CONSISTENT WITH THE PRIOR AUDITOR’S POSITION AS WELL. I BELIEVE THAT IT’S IMPORTANT FOR FOLKS TO TO KNOW WE DO THE SENATE DOES BELIEVE IN TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY. WE PERFORM ANNUAL AUDITS EVERY SINGLE YEAR BY A CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING ENTITY THAT DOES GOVERNMENT AUDITS WHEN THEY’RE DONE. WE PUT THEM ON OUR WEBSITE FOR EVERYBODY TO SEE. WE HAVE ALL OF OUR SPENDING, PAYROLL, FINANCIALS ON THE COMPTROLLER’S WEBSITE. SO WE ARE TRANSPARENT AND ACCOUNTABLE UNDER THAT. IF FOLKS WANT TO KNOW WHAT’S WHAT’S GOING ON IN THE SENATE, THEY CAN FOLLOW THROUGH JOURNALS AND CALENDARS AND OTHER THINGS THAT ARE ON OUR WEBSITE SO PEOPLE CAN SEE ALL OF THAT. SO IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU DON’T SUPPORT A BALLOT QUESTION HERE THAT WOULD PUT THIS MATTER TO THE VOTERS. WELL, YOU KNOW, I BELIEVE THAT THERE’S STILL ARE NOT ONLY STATUTORY ISSUES, BUT CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUES. ALL RIGHT. AND ONE OF YOUR TOP PRIORITIES PASSED THIS SUMMER WITH SOME CAVEATS. WE TALKED A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THAT AT THE TOP OF THE SHOW, A TUITION FREE COMMUNITY COLLEGE FOR PEOPLE OVER 25. YOU WANTED IT TUITION FREE FOR EVERYBODY. WE’RE WORKING ON THAT. YOU’RE STILL WORKING ON. WE PUT MONEY IN THE BUDGET FOR THE COMMUNITY COLLEGES AND THE BOARD OF STATE, HIGHER ED TO PLAN IT SO THAT THERE WILL BE FREE COMMUNITY COLLEGE. NOW, FOR THOSE OVER 25 FREE COMMUNITY COLLEGE FOR NURSING STUDENTS, WE’RE IN DIRE STRAITS FOR MORE NURSES. THIS WILL RECRUIT AND RETAIN AND IT WILL HOPEFULLY LOWER THE OVERALL COST OF HEALTH CARE BY DOING THAT AND THEN STARTING IN THE FALL OF 2024, THERE WILL BE FREE COMMUNITY COLLEGE FOR ALL. ALL. NO, I DON’T WANT TO INTERRUPT YOU, BUT I WANT TO GET BEFORE WE GO TO THE BREAK, LET’S TALK ABOUT YOU ALSO WANT TO FOCUS ON EARLY EDUCATION. DO YOU THINK IT’S TIME FOR MASSACHUSETTS TO PASS UNIVERSAL PRE-K? SOME OTHER STATES HAVE DONE THAT IN THE NORTHEAST. WELL, I THINK WE CAN CERTAINLY LOOK AT THAT. I THINK THAT WE SHOULD START WITH THE REFORM. THE SENATE LAST SESSION DID A TERRIFIC REFORM BILL ON EARLY EDUCATION AND CARE. WE OVERHAULED THE WAY WE FUND OUR PROVIDERS TO MAKE SURE THAT THEY NOT ONLY SURVIVE ED, BUT THAT THEY THRIVE. WE GAVE MORE ASSISTANCE TO OUR FAMILIES BECAUSE CHILD CARE IS SO EXPENSIVE IN MASSACHUSETTS. SINCE WE GAVE RATE INCREASES TO THE WORKERS SO THEY COULD HAVE A LIVING WAGE. AND THAT’S WHAT WE DID IN THE BUDGET. WE SUPPORTED THAT EVEN THOUGH THE BILL NEVER GOT TO THE GOVERNOR’S DESK LAST SESSION, WE WE FUNDED ALL OF THAT IN THE BUDGET TO GIVE RELIEF FOR WORKING FAMILIES AND WE WILL CONTINUE TO WORK ON IT. AND JUST DO IT AGAIN IN THIS SESSION. JUST QUICKLY, WHEN IT COMES TO TUITION FREE COMMUNITY COLLEGE FOR PEOPLE OVER 25, EVERYBODY DECIDED TO GO AHEAD AND DO THAT. YOU’RE PUSHING FOR EVERYBODY NOW, HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES AND AND SO DOES THE STATE HAVE THE MONEY TO DO THAT? YES. YES, IT DOES. AND RIGHT NOW, THERE IS A DECLINING ENROLLMENT IN COMMUNITY COLLEGE. SO THERE ARE SEATS. SO WHEN PEOPLE GO, THEY PAY TUITION, WHETHER IT BE IN-STATE TUITION OR OUT OF STATE TUITION. IF YOU’RE COMING FROM OUT OF STATE. BUT THAT’S WHY TUITION EQUITY WAS SO IMPORTANT TO GIVE THESE STUDENTS AN OPPORTUNITY TO LET’S HARNESS THEIR TALENTS AND USE THEM AGAIN. WE HAVE A WORKF

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OTR: State Senate president discusses need for tax reform in Massachusetts

Karen Spilka also addresses the abrupt departure of Transportation Secretary Gina Fiandaca and Diana DiZoglio’s continued push to audit the Massachusetts Legislature.

Karen Spilka also addresses the abrupt departure of Transportation Secretary Gina Fiandaca and Diana DiZoglio’s continued push to audit the Massachusetts Legislature.

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