News & Updates

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.

New England Village ribbon cutting in Pembroke

Excited to officially celebrate the grand opening of New England Villages Career/Community Center in Pembroke. This new facility offers a range of career and job placement services for folks with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Thanks to Executive Director Gail Brown, NEV board members, the Pembroke & Plymouth Area Chambers of Commerce and all the local business leaders who came out to support this effort.

Hanson Economic development report

Promoting economic development along the Rt 27 corridor of Hanson has long been a priority of mine. Pleased to secure state funds to have outside expert review options and make recommendations to aid our local decision makers. “We think there is a strong potential, from a market standpoint, for mixed-use office/retail/restaurant and residential development in the vicinity of the MBTA station.”