News & Updates

House Passes Supplemental Budget with local road and public transportation funding.

Today the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a supplemental budget allowing the Commonwealth to increase the balance of its “Rainy Day Fund” to $3.2 billion, invest in local infrastructure projects, fight the opioid crisis while providing emergency funding for towns affected by the tornados on Cape Cod this past summer.

“This budget reflects the House’s key priorities ranging from strengthening the Commonwealth’s long-term fiscal outlook, protecting public health and safety, and investing in our most vulnerable residents,” said House Speaker Robert. A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “These investments will make communities safer, improve municipal infrastructure and provide protections for those most in need.”

“This budget makes critical investments that the Commonwealth needs in order to continue to provide the services that our constituents so dearly rely upon,” said Representative Aaron Michlewitz (D – Boston), Chair House Ways & Means Committee. “The funds that we are putting into Education, Transportation, Housing, and into the stabilization fund will go a long way to improve the lives of all the residents of the Commonwealth.”

In order to further fortify Massachusetts’ financial resiliency, the Legislature dedicated $400 million to the Commonwealth’s stabilization fund, bringing the Rainy Day Fund’s total balance to $3.2 billion, the first time the fund has reached that amount in its history.

As part of the House’s priority to protect the environment, the supplemental budget makes a $24 million investment for the testing of potential per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination of water supplies and for grants to support treatment and remediation of affected public drinking water systems, and $35 million for the Clean Water Trust Fund.

In addition, the supplemental budget reaffirms the House’s strong partnership with cities and towns by providing $60 million to invest in local roads and bridges projects. Furthering the House’s commitment to clean energy, the budget also features a $32 million investment in the state’s electric vehicle rebate program.

In addition, the supplemental budget:

  • Recognizes the need for increased investment in the MBTA by providing $50 million for additional staffing and contract costs to support capital project delivery, inspection and maintenance activities, and service diversions necessary to accelerate capital projects;
  • Works to support the Commonwealth’s public higher education institutions by investing $20 million in a program that encourages private fundraising with matching state dollars;  
  • Keeps with the House’s priority to promote gun safety by including $10 million for gun violence prevention programs;
  • Supports low-income households at the risk of eviction or facing foreclosure by investing $7 million for a rental and mortgage arrearage assistance pilot program;
  • Continues the House’s leadership on the Commonwealth’s early education efforts by including $3 million for grants for early educator scholarships for school paraprofessionals;
  • Provides $3 million in disaster relief funding to Cape Cod communities affected by the tornados on July 23, 2019;    
  • Designates the presidential primary date for Sept. 1, 2020 and invests funding to establish early voting for the 2020 presidential election;
  • Support the House’s priority of supporting Massachusetts’ most vulnerable youth by investing $5 million in a program to expand access for students to community-based mental and behavioral health services in schools; and
  • Includes $10 million reserve for salary increases for home health aides and personnel providing homemaker and personal care homemaker services.

The supplemental budget will now go to the Senate.

Kids Holiday Card Contest

Rep. Cutler is inviting local elementary school students to help spread some holiday cheer by submitting entries for his annual Holiday Greeting Card Contest.

The contest is open to any students in grades (1) one thru (5) five residing in the Sixth Plymouth District (Pembroke, Duxbury or Hanson). The winning design will be used as the cover of Rep. Cutler’s holiday greeting card. The printed card will credit the name, grade and school of the winning student artist and a $100 donation will be made to the child’s school PTO fund plus a $50 gift certificate to the child. All entries will be on display in Rep. Cutler’s State House office as space permits and all students submitting completed entries will receive a certificate of appreciation as a keepsake.

The deadline for receiving entries is Friday, November 22 by 4 p.m. Entries can be mailed to Rep. Cutler at PO Box 2775, Duxbury, MA 02331 or dropped off at Rep. Cutler’s Hanson office at 620 County Road, Hanson during regular business hours. Entries must be received prior to the deadline to be considered. Entries can also be scanned (in color at 300 dpi) and emailed to rep@joshcutler.com. One entry per student please. Entries should be horizontal format and able to scale to approximately 5 x 7 inches.

All entries must include the student’s name, grade and school. Please include the name of parent, address and phone number for confirmation purposes.

For more information please contact Gigi Mirarchi in Rep. Cutler’s office at 617-722-2810 or via email at gretchen.mirarchi@mahouse.gov.

House approves bill to better monitor state’s colleges

Oct. 2, 2019 – (BOSTON) – Today the Mass. House of Representatives voted to pass legislation that will enable the state to more closely monitor the financial health of Massachusetts private colleges and universities and provide transparency and security to students and families in the Commonwealth.   

Known as an Act to Support Improved Financial Stability in Higher Education, the legislation requires higher education institutions to make public and accessible financial reports and requires any institution facing financial risk of closure to develop contingency plans to ensure a process is in place to assist and inform its students and other stakeholders. The legislation also establishes financial penalties on institutions for non-compliance with reporting and planning.The bill requires ethics and fiduciary training for higher education trustees and board members.

“This legislation will increase the transparency of the financial health of our public institutions of higher education requiring increased oversight, reporting and accountability to protect students, families, and staff,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, (D-Winthrop).  “I’m proud of the work Chair Jeffrey Roy has done to lead this effort with the support of Chair Aaron Michlewitz and Representative Kenneth Gordon.”  

The four major provision of the bill address the following topics listed below.

  • Financial reporting:  Requires that all public higher education and independent institutions post on their websites a copy of the institution’s financial report and a summary written in terms understandable by the general public. 
  • Financial screening: Enables the Board of Higher Education (BHE) to monitor the financial health of independent institutions of higher education in Massachusetts. 
    • Requires an independent institution to immediately notify BHE of any known financial liabilities or risks likely that may result in closure.
    • Requires BHE to annually conduct a financial screening of each institution and identify any institution it deems may be at risk of imminent closure.  The BHE will keep confidential those assessments for independent institutions unless it is determined an institution is at risk of closure. 
    • The BHE may accept the results of an annual financial screening conducted by an accrediting agency authorized by the U.S. Department of Education. 
    • An institution determined to be at risk of imminent closure must prepare a contingency plan for closure, which includes a process to provide notice to a variety of stakeholders including, students, faculty, staff, pending applicants, and host communities. The closure plan must also include:
      • arrangements for students to complete their program of study;
      • a plan for the maintenance of student records; and,
      • provide funding for refunding any student deposits and for the cost of protecting and maintaining student records.
  • Enforcement: Requires penalties for failure to comply with financial screening requirements, which include fines of up to $1,000 per day, suspension of any state funds, or the suspension or revocation of any degree granting authority.  
  • Board training: Requires comprehensive training programs for members of the boards of trustees of the state’s public higher education institutions on the proper governance,  financial metrics, open meeting law and their legal and fiduciary responsibilities, at least once every four years. 

The bill now goes to the Senate.

House recognizes national Energy Efficiency Day

Today is Energy Efficiency Day which is part of national effort to promote energy efficiency, reduce energy consumption and help consumers save money. The Mass. House has adopted a formal resolution to promote this effort, which I was proud to file. Thank you to Speaker DeLeo and all my House colleagues for recognizing the importance of energy efficiency. We should all be proud that our state ranks FIRST in the nation in energy efficiency policy. We like to say that energy efficiency is the best climate change policy you’ve never heard of! Of course there’s always more work to be done, and we continue to advocate for the Mass. Energy SAVE Act (H. 2832) and other legislation to update and improve our energy standards. #EEDay2019

WorkAbility hearing set

The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities has designated a subcommittee to further study the critical issue of workforce development for persons with disabilities. I am very pleased to lead this effort, which is focused on identifying solutions to promote opportunities for individuals with disabilities to participate and succeed in the workforce.

Our “WorkAbility” subcommittee has been hard at work since the spring, meeting with disability advocates, employers, employees and other key stakeholders. We want to make sure all voices are heard so we have also scheduled a public hearing to be held Tuesday, October 22 at the State House.

This hearing is designed to encourage individuals with disabilities to share their own personal stories and experiences in the workforce. What are the challenges they have faced? The successes? The hardships? How can Massachusetts do even better to remove potential barriers or create incentives? These are the stories we would like to hear. Here are the details on the hearing:

“WorkAbility” Hearing
Tuesday, October 22, 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
State House, Room B-1

A few notes about logistics: The hearing room is accessible through the Ashburton entrance of the State House without the need for any elevator or stairs. Assistive listening technology will be available and we will have a real time closed captioning system (CART) in use. A sign language interpreter has also been requested. If there are other special accommodations we can make please just let us know and we would be glad to do so.

To better accommodate the number of expected attendees and to avoid anyone having to sit and wait for an extended period of time, we will be scheduling testimony in half-hour blocks. We do ask that everyone confine their remarks to no longer than 3-5 minutes each. Additional testimony is welcome to be submitted in writing or other recorded form.

Our WorkAbility subcommittee will take in all the testimony and use it to help inform our review of state policy on disability workforce development. We expect to issue a formal report later this term with concrete recommendations and action items. Hearing from as many individuals as possible is paramount and will greatly aid us in our work. If needed, we are also certainly open to scheduling a subsequent hearing and/or hosting a listening session in another area of the state.

If you or someone in your organization is interested in attending and testifying at our hearing, please let my office know by RSVP’ing at 617-722-2810 or emailing my Legislative Director, Cole Angley at cole.angley@mahouse.gov.  

I’d also like to recognize and thank the fellow members of our subcommittee. They are Sen. Diana DiZoglio, Rep. Nika Elugardo, Rep. Kimberly Ferguson, Rep. Denise Garlick, Rep. Tami Gouveia, Rep. Stephen Hay, Rep. Jon Hecht, Rep. Kathy LaNatra, Rep. David LeBoeuf, Rep. Matt Muratore and Rep. Michael Soter.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you as we work together to better workforce opportunities for individuals with disabilities in the Commonwealth.

Warmest regards,

REP. JOSH S. CUTLER

Vice-Chair, Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities

Rep. Cutler Remarks at Disability Employment Conference

Today I had the opportunity to deliver closing remarks at a statewide conference at the DCU Center in Worcester on the topic of disability employment. The event was hosted by the Mass. Rehabilitation Commission and the purpose was to help business leaders learn how to better to hire, promote, and retain qualified workers with disabilities. This is an issue I am proud to help lead in the legislature with our “WorkAbility” subcommittee.

Here in Massachusetts we don’t have an abundance of natural resources to power our economy –– our greatest asset is our skilled and educated workforce and we can’t afford to leave anyone on the sidelines. And yet there is a vast pool of talented individuals, who might happen to have a particular disability, that we haven’t sufficiently tapped into. If you have a moment please take a listen (the video quality is not great, but the audio is fine) and please help us spread this important message.