Shepherd: M K Merelice, Norfolk County Representative
Co-Sponsor(s): Frank Jackson
Vetting Committees: Platform, AdCom, CDLC (?)
Background: Over the years, the GRP has worked on state legislative bills and warrant articles, with varying degrees of success. Sometimes the effort has been frustrating and has discouraged further involvement. However, the party’s advocacy has also helped legislation pass (e.g. MAAPL bills related to the foreclosure crisis).
As an official political party that hopes to engage directly in state government, there are particular issues that rise to the top of party interest. This proposal is to identify up to a half dozen such issues in which the party might help develop legislation or, minimally, follow legislation and communicate progress and any timely need for lobbying to GRP members.
Proposal Text: The GRP hereby establishes a Legislation Working Committee. The responsibility of members of the committee will be to select up to a half-dozen issues that require state legislation to address.
Once the issues are defined (within the scope of the GRP’s volunteer resources), a volunteer will track the progress of relevant legislation from filing to enacting, keeping GRP members informed and activated. Communications will also be posted on social media.
Implementation: Issues to be considered could include the Community Uplift Initiative introduced by the 2014 statewide candidates and endorsed by the GRP, the continuing foreclosure problem being addressed by the GRP-founded Massachusetts Alliance Against Predatory Lending (MAAPL), Instant Runoff (ranked) Voting (IRV), Single-Payer Health Care (Medicare for all), eliminating the Supreme Court decision about corporate personhood and money as free speech, and establishing a State Bank (a goal raised during the campaign for State Treasurer and about to be worked on by party members). If helpful, this committee could work under the auspices of the Platform Committee.
Financial impact: None identified.
That said, Joanna suggested this: “receiving all local school taxes at the state level and redistributing payment to municipal school districts on a per capita basis.”
Towns don’t designate a “school tax” that could be redistributed this way. All of them collect property taxes en masse and set up a budget that includes the schools and general government functions, with schools typically representing well over half of total spending. In most cases, local schools depend on significant state aid, and it’s already based on financial need, local income levels and student numbers in a complex formula nobody really understands.
The proposal for formation of a legislation committee is most welcome. I’ll try to assemble available platform members to vet this proposal. In the past couple of years Platform Committee has noted that, to fulfill GRP agenda, we need to consider certain changes at state level. But we have not found the capacity to do that research. In addition to the issues mentioned in the proposal, we might also suggest:
- Revising state income tax to more progressive formula (as recommended by a recent state commission), or perhaps something approaching a guaranteed basic income—supplanting welfare system. To study this, we would need to know where money comes from for what and how it is transferable. (Federal funds likely not transferable.)
- Equalizing public school education budgets by receiving all local school taxes at the state level and redistributing payment to municipal school districts on a per capita basis, as is the practice in certain other states.
- Exploring what can be done to end corporate welfare, such as tax expenditures enacted without measures for terminating them.
- Transferring responsibility for adequate housing construction from the private sector by repealing Chapter 40B and proposing alternative legislation. Examine ways to change funding by quasi public agencies (Mass Development, Mass Housing, etc.) which now favors the interests of builders of market-priced housing and make such funding as they offer available to be controlled at the local level on the basis of sustainable land use policy.