Thus far this session, the Massachusetts Legislature continues to make progress on several issues of public interest. House and Senate legislation is moving forward which pertains to on-line voter registration and early voting in Presidential elections; welfare reform; increasing the state’s minimum wage; reforming the unemployment insurance system; and last, but certainly not least, legislation to reduce gun violence.
One issue which comes to our attention at this time of year is the minimum wage. One plea from constituents that I hear repeatedly is, “Please try to find a way forward that rewards hard work and savings.” More than a few of my very hardworking constituents have candidly confided that it would likely be in the financial best interest of their family if they stopped working and went onto public assistance rather than continue to work, often at several jobs with long hours and little time spent with their children.
Perhaps, the most important issue facing both our Commonwealth and our Nation is ensuring that jobs are available that reward hard work with the opportunity to live decently and with some modicum of security.
Given both the uniqueness and greatness of our Commonwealth and the United States, we should be able to rise to this challenge and meet it effectively.
Let us consider State tax breaks for those corporate entities and wealthy individuals who create jobs in our state, actually trickle their wealth down to multiply the wealth of everyone. Let us also make modest and gradual increases in our minimum wage to the point where it is the minimum wage that one actually needs to support themselves or that allows two working people as a couple to establish a household together as a young family.
At the same time, we should trim our unemployment insurance system that is by far the most generous in the nation. And, finally, let us have further health care system reform to make health insurance independent of ones private sector employment so our businesses are not at a constant competitive disadvantage in the international arena.
Great domestic policies adopted by our country are usually initiated at the state level first – as this is where new ideas, most good and some bad, can be implemented. One of the reasons that serving in the Massachusetts Legislature is so rewarding is that there are so many here dedicated to the public good in both the private and public sectors. They routinely commit their time and personal assets to engage to address the tough but solvable issues before us. For this reason, I am confident about the progress we will make in the coming year.