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Priorities

As I talk to people throughout the district its clear everyone understands and believes in the need to fund government services, and we all support our local communities. Unfortunately, the disconnect comes because people don’t feel that government is pending their money wisely, and doesn’t understand the hard times we are all going through.

For me it has always been about setting priorities, and then holding government accountable for the way we spend your money. I keep these priorities at the forefront everyday on Beacon Hill:

Keeping you safe in your person and property

Keeping you safe is the first order of business. Some of the areas I have been focused on include:

  • Increasing training and giving police the tools they need to do their job effectively.
  • Passing legislation in the House of Representatives to help ensure ambulance companies receive prompt payment for their services to help keep them solvent.
  • Sponsored a budget initiative funding design work to update Dudley’s fire department facilities.
  • Filed “Yellow-DOT” public safety legislation to provide lifesaving medical information to first responders at an accident.

Increasing local aid to our cities and towns

For the third straight year we’ve been able to increase local aid to cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth. This is important because it’s where tax dollars are spent most wisely, and where they make the most impact:

  • Increased unrestricted local aid for three years (and fighting to make it four).
  • Increased educational funding by over $1,000,000 in the district.
  • Increased Chapter 90 (road repair) by 50% to $300 million statewide with a commitment to fight to add another $300 million for this fiscal year.
  • Fought for (and won!) funding commitments from the House of Representatives for Transportation projects in the district:

    • Sidewalk repairs in Charlton
    • Traffic signal improvements in Dudley
    • Downtown rail trail improvements in Southbridge
    • Route 31 repairs in Spencer

Creating an environment for Job Creation

Our economy has been stagnant for too long, and although we are starting to see signs of recovery there is still a long way to go. I’ve fought to implement policies that foster job growth, not hinder it:

  • Filed legislation (H2546) to help reduce the tax burden for small businesses start-ups.
  • Co-sponsored legislation creating a strong business climate through a Small Business Incubator (H164) and angel investor tax credits (H2536 – a bill that has its origins from my direct discussions with a constituent).
  • Freezing Unemployment Insurance rates that, if left unchecked, can have a devastating effect on hiring.
  • Co-sponsoring initiatives that created a “Small Business Bill of Rights”.
  • Convened a series of round tables with colleagues and businesses that ultimately pressured the legislature to eliminate a newly enacted “Tech-tax” on our vibrant technology sector.

Education

Everything depends on education, but that doesn’t mean that everyone must have a master’s degree to succeed. Educational opportunities must be available and varied to meet the needs of children as they prepare for life as well as the demands of adults when they wish to expand their horizons or change careers. In my time as your state representative I’ve made education a priority, visiting schools to speak to educators, teaching classes, and talking with local business owners to find out their educational needs to help their employees advance. We’re having success: In the past 3 years educational funding in the district has increased by more than a million dollars, Quinsigamond Community College is continuing its expansion in Southbridge and classes are being added specifically to enhance the local workforce. In addition, I’m:

  • Co-sponsoring legislation to provide financial literacy education to children to help ensure they are prepared with the tools they need so they can avoid the debt cycle so many face.
  • Leading the charge to re-work the Chapter 70 School Funding formula which is inequitable to many local towns.
  • Advocating for the expansion of the educational opportunities at the AO complex in Southbridge. Quinsigamond Community College is providing outstanding services, and our vision is to expand not just their offerings but bring others as well creating a first class educational complex.
  • Working with the WRTA to expand bus routes that include stops at the AO complex so students can easily transfer between classes in Southbridge and the Quinsig hub in Worcester.
  • Continuing to speak with business owners, chambers of commerce, and start-up investors to find out the skill sets and educational requirements they need to fill positions and expand locally.

Demanding Accountability from Government

Just as you and I are responsible for the things we do, the way we live our lives, and the way we spend our money, so must our government. My position on the House Post Audit and Oversight Committee provides me the ability to hold government accountable for you:

  • Improving oversight and accountability of educational collaboratives.
  • Investigating the operations of, pushing for improvements, and tightening controls in various state agencies and other organizations:

    • EBT system (Welfare)
    • Department of Children and Families
    • Unemployment Insurance System
    • Mass Health and the Affordable Care Act implementation
  • Voted to increase oversight on the compounding pharmaceutical industry in the wake of a deadly meningitis outbreak from a Framingham facility. (Vote #229, H3672)
  • Co-sponsored legislation to eliminate fraud and abuse in the State’s various benefit systems. (H109, 132, 133, 134)
  • Authored legislation holding non-profits accountable for how they spend taxpayer money. (H1714)




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© 2014-2017 Peter J. Durant for State Representative
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