STATE HOUSE ROUNDUP: No break for back-to-school shoppers

By Matt Murphy, State House News Service via Wicked Local Wareham
August 8, 2017

Lawmakers slunk away from Beacon Hill without acting on bills that would have established a sales-tax-free weekend sometime this August.
Hotel, motel, Chatham Bars Inn?

Turns out deciding where to holiday can be more complicated this time of year than choosing between the Cape, the Berkshires or Nantucket. It also means figuring out whether to go to Best Buy in Everett or Nashua, New Hampshire.

Lawmakers slunk away from Beacon Hill without acting on bills that would have established a sales-tax-free weekend sometime this August.

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No one said a word, but one might have guessed at that point that the decision had been made to forego a sales tax holiday this summer for just the third time in the past 14 years. After a year of wringing their hands over disappointing tax collections, leaders are loathe to give up a revenue source, even if it might mean cheaper school supplies for constituents and a boon for some small businesses.

Gov. Charlie Baker, however, didn’t seem to want to play that guessing game. And despite vetoing $320 million from the fiscal 2018 budget, he apparently feels a few million dollars lost in August can be overcome.

The governor filed a bill Aug. 2 to make the weekend of Aug. 19 and 20 a sales tax holiday. Sure, he could have just issued a statement calling on the Legislature to return from its recess and pass one of the several tax holiday bills already filed this session, But he didn’t. He filed his own, and it was just about dead on arrival.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo said Baker’s decision to file legislation, especially in the first week of August, made “little sense,” and Rep. Jay Kaufman, a Lexington Democrat and Revenue Committee chairman who views these tax holidays as little more than gimmicks, said what DeLeo seemed unwilling to.

Baker’s bill would not get through committee.
So why did Baker file it? Well perhaps it was just coincidence, but it also came the same day Baker decided that he would sign off on $200 million in new fees and fines on employers to help pay for MassHealth without the reforms that he, and groups like the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, had been insisting on as part of a package.

Rather than force House and Senate Democrats to override a veto and deal with the storyline all summer that he and the Legislature were at odds, the governor chose to do something he’s hoping won’t become famous last words.

“The Legislature told us they would work with us on this, and we’re going to take them at their word,” he said.

The National Federation of Independent Business said it was “incredibly disappointed” in Baker, but other business groups, including Associated Industries of Massachusetts, struck a more-diplomatic tone.

“While this is certainly not the outcome we hoped for, we recognize that the governor’s decision is carefully considered and designed to achieve the ultimate, long-term goal of substantive MassHealth reform,” AIM President Rick Lord said.

Even with the olive branch from Baker, the retailers seem to have just about reached a breaking point. With the deadline arriving to file language to reserve a spot on the 2018 ballot, the Retailers Association of Massachusetts filed four possible ballot questions for next fall.

The group, frustrated by an inability to get what it wants through the legislative process, proposed lowering the sales tax from 6.25 percent to either 5 percent or 4.5 percent and reserved their right to couple either proposal with an annual two-day sales tax holiday.
The retailers weren’t the only group making reservations for 2018. Petitioners filed 26 proposed laws and two constitutional amendments that will begin the process of undergoing a legal review, followed by rounds of signature-gathering if the Legislature doesn’t take up any of their proposals.

The Raise Up Massachusetts coalition was especially busy, as the group behind the proposed constitutional amendment to impose an income surtax on millionaires also filed for a minimum wage increase to $15 an hour and paid family and medical leave.

While voters may get to decide some of those issues, it was the Supreme Judicial Court that decided state and local police had no legal authority to honor detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, even if the person sought by the feds had a violent criminal past.

Baker moved to put that legal authority in place last week by filing legislation that would reinstitute a policy that has been in place for the State Police since June 2016 – no local enforcement of federal immigration law unless the defendant wanted by ICE is already in custody and has a serious criminal rap sheet.

But it’s hard to propose any immigration policy these days without inviting a firestorm, and this was no different.

Democratic gubernatorial candidates lashed out at Baker, equating his proposal to President Donald Trump’s ramped-up deportation efforts, and the American Civil Liberties Union questioned the bill’s constitutionality.

Baker’s team defended it as very limited ICE cooperation focused on criminals, not the otherwise law-abiding immigrant class.
But even the fact that so-called sanctuary cities in Massachusetts like Newton and Somerville have exceptions in their own pro-immigrant policies for people with criminal pasts, Newton Mayor Setti Warren and others accused the governor of wanting to rob people of their due process rights.

The Legislature will ultimately get to decide what happens, but that won’t happen until at least after Labor Day as the August recess was in full effect on Beacon Hill last week, where tourists outnumbers elected officials by a sizeable margin.

Work for many state representatives and senators instead would consist of playing host to thousands of their counterparts as the National Conference of State Legislatures touched down in Boston last weekend.

The tiff over the sales tax holiday notwithstanding, Baker, Senate President Stanley Rosenberg and DeLeo took part in an NCSL panel Aug. 6 moderated by former Gov. Bill Weld afforded the trio a chance to tout their bipartisan working relationship, no better evidenced than by Baker signing the MassHealth employer assessment bill.

One could argue that former Gov. Deval Patrick, a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, played more hardball with the Democratic-controlled Legislature during his eight years in office.

And now, thanks to an interview the former governor gave to Washington outlet Politico, the flames of the Patrick-for-president fire are burning brighter than ever.

Patrick is not alone in Massachusetts drawing inquiring eyes from the Beltway, either. It was reported last week that Rep. Seth Moulton, of thorn-in-Nancy-Pelosi’s-side fame, will be heading to Iowa this fall for the Polk County Democratic Party steak fry.

And everyone knows why politicians go to Iowa.

 

Full Story: Wicked Local Wareham

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Amherst state representative endorses Setti Warren’s Democratic gubernatorial bid

By Shannon Young
August 4, 2017

AMHERST — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Setti Warren has added state Rep. Solomon Goldstein-Rose, D-Amherst, to his list of supporters, campaign officials announced Friday.

Touting the Democrat’s commitment to fighting economic inequality, Goldstein-Rose officially endorsed Warren’s 2018 gubernatorial run during a joint appearance at the Black Sheep Deli in Amherst.

The Amherst Democrat marks the first member of the Massachusetts legislature to come out in support of the Newton mayor’s bid, Warren’s campaign noted.

Contending that Warren is “the bold leader” the state needs, Goldstein-Rose said he “has the experience and the vision to bring systemic change to Massachusetts.”

“Despite all the divisiveness we saw in the 2016 election, Setti has been able to bring people together to work for the common good,” he said in a statement.

Goldstein-Rose, a member of the Massachusetts House of Representative’s Higher Education Committee, further lauded Warren’s support for free public college.

“Setti recognizes that we need to a 21st century public education system if we’re to give every child in Massachusetts the full opportunity they deserve, and that means creating a plan for free post-secondary education options to serve every kind of young person,” he said.

Warren thanked Goldstein-Rose for his support, saying he’s “proud that (his) vision of empowering the next generation is shared by the commonwealth’s youngest legislator.”
Goldstein-Rose’s endorsement came just one month after Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz announced his support for Warren’s campaign.

Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz endorses Setti Warren’s Democratic gubernatorial bid
Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz endorses Setti Warren’s Democratic gubernatorial bid
Mayor David Narkewicz threw his support behind Democratic gubernatorial candidate Setti Warren Tuesday, praising his fellow mayor’s achievements as the top official in Newton.

Warren is among several Democrats who have announced runs to challenge incumbent Republican Gov. Charlie Baker.

Jay Gonzalez, a former CEO of CeltiCare Health and ex-budget chief for former Gov. Deval Patrick; and Robert K. Massie, an environmentalist and entrepreneur, have also launched 2018 gubernatorial bids.

Baker has yet to announce if will seek a second term, although it is widely assumed that he will run again.

The election will take place on Nov. 6, 2018.

 

Full Story: MassLive

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With Immigration And Health Care, Baker Walks A Purple Tight Rope

By Shannon Dooling
Date: August 4, 2017

Recent moves from Gov. Charlie Baker show the Republican trying to manage a tight political balancing act at the helm of a largely liberal state, sometimes pleasing liberals and then conservatives in the same week.

Let’s start with health care. Last week, Baker joined a bipartisan effort to stop U.S. Senate Republicans’ “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), signing a letter a group of governors sent to Senate leadership, asking them not to push forward with the overhaul.

President Trump and congressional Republicans have, of course, called for repealing the ACA, or Obamacare, so this was a clear example of Baker splitting with the much of the GOP in Washington and, in the process, pleasing many of his Democratic constituents here.

But then Baker, concerned with ballooning Medicaid costs in Massachusetts, proposed some reforms to MassHealth, which were ultimately rejected by the state’s Democratic-led Legislature.

Jeff Berry, a professor of political science at Tufts University, said it’s been a tough week on Beacon Hill for the governor when it comes to health care.

“What stands out is that the Democrats have worked very cooperatively with the governor since he’s been elected, and this shows some Democratic backbone saying to the governor, ‘This is a progressive state, we’re not going to cut back, and we need you to stand up for services.’ The governor buckled under,” Berry said.

On Tuesday, the governor waded into the contentious immigration debate, filing new legislation centered around how much local law enforcement can cooperate with federal immigration officials.

The bill is a response to a major decision from the state’s highest court, which last week ruled against so-called ICE detainers, a tool that the Trump administration has said is crucial to public safety. The civil requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials ask local law enforcement and court officers to keep someone in custody who’s otherwise free to go. ICE asks the local authorities to hold that person a little longer so they can look into their immigration status.

The high court ruled that’s not legal in Massachusetts because there’s no statute allowing local law officers to continue holding that person. Baker’s legislation seeks to establish that authority, in the case of convicted violent criminals and certain other cases.

The response to Baker’s bill has broken down along more traditional partisan lines, with the right often wanting to see more of a hard line and the left looking for a governor who will speak out more against the president’s beefed-up immigration enforcement.

And that’s all a good sign, according to Richard Tisei, a former state Senate minority leader. Tisei was the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor when Baker unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2010.

“I know a lot of Republicans who are upset with [Baker] right now on his immigration stance and I know there are a lot of left-wing organizations too,” Tisei said, “and to me, that tells me that he’s doing something right and looking at things in a nonpartisan manner.”

For the most part, the governor hasn’t taken an especially strong position on the larger, national immigration debate. He did oppose the president’s original travel ban, suggesting the state’s businesses and universities would have been hit hard. When it comes to the sanctuary city debate, Baker takes more of a hands-off approach. He’s against making Massachusetts a so-called sanctuary state, but believes towns and cities should be able to make that decision on a local level.

Many immigrants rights activists and some of the governor’s Democratic challengers say that’s not enough. Setti Warren, for instance, says with Baker’s new ICE detainer bill, the governor is doing the bidding of the Trump administration.

“I believe this is a piece of legislation that’s in line with what’s happening in Washington,” Warren said. “President Trump’s attempt to federalize police officers, it’s wrong. It actually makes our communities less safe.”

Another Democratic challenger, Jay Gonzalez, voiced his own criticism of the governor’s bill.

“Governor Baker is going out of his way to try to help Donald Trump enforce immigration laws. It’s not the job of state and local law enforcement, nor should it be,” Gonzalez said.

In a statement, William Pitman, a spokesman for the governor, said Baker is solely focused on what is best for the people of Massachusetts.

“Whether that means opposing federal legislation that would destabilize the Commonwealth’s healthcare system or proposing legislation to allow the State Police to continue what they have been doing for over year – detaining convicted murderers or rapists – the Baker-Polito Administration will continue to advocate for what is best for the Commonwealth,” he said.

Berry, the Tufts political science professor, said Baker has a foot firmly in both camps, unafraid of tacking slightly left or right depending on the issue.

“He has to be, to govern effectively in this state, he has to work cooperatively with the Democrats, he can’t be a staunch conservative,” Berry said. “So in many ways he doesn’t have a lot of choice overall. But how it plays out, issue by issue, then he has some hard decisions to make and the immigration case is one of them.”

Berry even suggested that Baker’s middle of the road, moderate playbook may prove appealing to the national Republican Party, whose president currently has historically low approval ratings, should the GOP be looking for a new presidential candidate come 2020.

“[Baker] may, you know, want to keep his fingers in national Republican Party politics and the immigration story that played out this week fits into that narrative,” Berry said.

 

Full Story: WBUR News

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Gubernatorial candidate Setti Warren sits down with constituents in Amherst

By Tashanea Whitlow
Date: August 4, 2017

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – Amherst State Representative Solomon Goldstein-Rose endorsed Newton Mayor Setti Warren for governor.

22News caught up with Warren at the Black Sheep Deli in Amherst, where he had a chance to sit down with constituents and hear their concerns. Those concerns included health insurance, the rising cost of education, and economic inequality, which are all issues the mayor wants to change.

Mayor Warren told 22News, “I believe that people making $20,000 a week, in our state, can afford to pay a little bit more to reinvest that in transportation and education.”

Mayor Warren also supports single payer health insurance, free public college, and an east to west rail service.

He said the Commonwealth needs to be one, and that can only happen by providing transportation from one end of the state to the other, which he feels will strengthen our economy.

Mayor Warren also said we need to eliminate tax breaks for special interest.

 

Full Story: 22 News

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Setti Warren Statement on Governor Charlie Baker’s Deportation Bill

August 1, 2017

NEWTON, MA – Newton Mayor Setti Warren today released the following statement regarding Governor Charlie Baker’s bill to allow Massachusetts police to become a part of Donald Trump’s deportation force:

​”Police in Massachusetts should not be a part of Donald Trump’s deportation force. From the tragic detention of MIT employee Francisco Rodriguez, to the deportation of former Gaelic Athletic Association in Boston President John Cunningham, to the mumps outbreak in East Boston, the Commonwealth is already seeing the real life outcomes of President Trump’s war on immigrants. Communities all over Massachusetts are living in fear that a knock on their door in the middle of the night could mean losing a family member. Our neighborhoods are less safe when people who feel like they have to live in the shadows are afraid to talk to the police when they need help or witness a crime.

“Charlie Baker’s effort to keep Massachusetts police agencies in the deportation business is a political move, plain and simple. After winning by an historical small margin in 2014, Baker is clearly playing to the ultra-conservative base who needs to keep in his corner. And in this instance, Gov. Baker’s naked political ploy can have real, negative consequences for thousands of families in Massachusetts.”

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Setti Warren Statement on President Trump’s Attempt to Ban Transgender Americans from Military Service

July 26, 2017

NEWTON, MA – Newton Mayor Setti Warren today released the following statement regarding President Trump’s attempt to ban transgender Americans from military service:

​”My grandfather served in a segregated unit that fought in the Battle of the Bulge, my father signed up to fight in the Korean conflict at a time when African-Americans still could not effectively vote in much of our nation, and I served in Iraq alongside brave LGBT Americans still living in the shadows before the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. As a third-generation combat veteran, I know that the enemy’s bullets and bombs don’t care about our differences, and when it comes to defending our people and principles, neither should we.

“President Trump’s attempt to ban transgender Americans from military service will ultimately make our nation less safe by dissuading brave and qualified people from serving in our armed forces. I stand with my transgender brothers and sisters in uniform, today and always. I’m confident that President Trump will not have the last word on this, and in the end the truly American principles of diversity and inclusion will once again win out over hate and fear.”

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Would-be governor inspires democrats

By Bera Dunau
July 20, 2017

Newton Mayor Setti Warren took a fearless approach to his bid for statewide office during a visit to Foxboro Monday night — suggesting that tax increases must be part of any responsible budget dialog.

“On Beacon Hill at the state level, we can’t be afraid to say that we need to raise revenue,” said Warren, one of three Democrats vying for the chance to challenge Republican Gov. Charlie Baker in 2018.

Warren was in Foxboro to address the Democratic Town Committee and outline his campaign priorities and reasons for running before taking questions from the attendees.

An Iraq War veteran currently serving his second term as Newton mayor, Warren shared how, in the military, people of different backgrounds and ideologies worked together.

“We could not afford not to work with one another,” he said of his deployment to Iraq. “That stuck with me.”

Two pillars of Warren’s platform for tackling income inequality are establishing a single-payer healthcare system in Massachusetts and making public college free; he characterized these actions as “generational investments.”

He later emphasized that his vision for free college would eliminate all costs.

This would include, not just tuition, but all paid co-ops and apprenticeships, and that the opportunity to access it would be life-long.

“We know right now that just having a high school education in this economy is not enough,” said Warren.

He also criticized Baker’s budget practices and proposed budget cuts.

“We can’t even get to those proposals unless we are honest about what this budget is about on Beacon Hill,” said Warren.

Responding to a question from the audience, Warren said grass-roots Democrats need to stand up to party leaders in the state legislature.

“We’ve got to challenge our own party,” said Warren, specifically citing the issue of transparency in the state budgeting process and in revenue projections.

He said that, although he opposed certain actions of the Trump administration, he would reach out to and work with Trump voters.

“There are 7,000 people who voted for Donald Trump in my hometown,” said Warren, who worked in the Clinton Administration and for former U.S. Sen. John Kerry.

Warren wasn’t shy about his willingness to raise taxes, and expressed his support for the Fair Share Tax Amendment, the “millionaire’s tax” that will be on the ballot next year, as well as closing loopholes in the tax code.

Warren also pleased local Democrats by saying he supports expanding commuter rail service to Foxboro — though he supports expanding rail service to other areas as well.

Warren highlighted his accomplishments as Newton’s mayor. In particular, he touted his administration’s transparent, outcome-based budgeting process, and the savings the city had achieved through carbon footprint-cutting efforts and union negotiations.

Warren is among the three Democratic candidates so far who have announced that they are running against Republican Gov. Charlie Baker in the 2018 election. The other two are environmentalist Robert Massie and healthcare CEO Jay Gonzalez, budget chief in the Patrick administration.

When asked about Foxboro’s status as a traditionally Republican town, and how it and southeastern Massachusetts would factor into his campaign, Warren said that he intended to campaign everywhere.

“I’ll be here early and often,” he said.

 

Full Story: Foxboro Reporter

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Solar debate heats up again

By Jon Chesto
July 19, 2017

Eversource executives knew they would upset people with their big rate request. Now, it is municipal leaders’ turn to gripe.

Seven communities say they will lose $1.6 million a year because Eversource is changing reimbursement rates for electricity from their solar panel projects. Newton Mayor Setti Warren is among those leading the charge: He expects his city will get hit with about $400,000 annually in reduced credits if state officials approve Eversource’s plan. Several of the communities filed a petition last week with the Department of Public Utilities, essentially asking regulators to protect their old rates for already-built projects.

Others could see reductions, too. Warren’s staff says Eversource indicated the total loss of net metering credits could exceed $5 million a year.

Eversource spokesman Michael Durand tells me the utility is simply updating its rates to reflect the cost of providing service to net metering customers. The goal is to make the system more equitable for customers without solar panels. Durand says these seven communities will still probably receive more than they’re giving up.

Meanwhile, there’s another big change coming. Durand says Eversource is seeking, through this rate case, to start charging a minimum monthly amount to customers with new solar projects that go online after Jan. 1, 2019. He says the aim, again, is to ensure those without solar power aren’t unfairly subsidizing those who have it.

This issue of who pays has been at the crux of the solar debate on Beacon Hill for years — and this new challenge from municipalities shows it isn’t going to go away anytime soon.

Full Story: Boston Globe

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Setti Warren: On Healthcare, Dems Need To Do More Than Shout About What We’re Against

July 18, 2017

NEWTON, MA – Newton Mayor Setti Warren today released the following statement urging Democrats in the Massachusetts legislature to start moving the Commonwealth toward a single-payer healthcare system:

​”With Republicans attacking healthcare in Washington, and Gov. Baker’s plan to shuffle sick poor people from one column on a spreadsheet to another heading to the Massachusetts legislature, I believe it is time for Democrats to do more than shout about what we are against.

“We need to reduce the cost of care in Massachusetts, but Gov. Baker’s plan to remove more than a hundred thousand people from MassHealth is not the right way to do it. Massachusetts needs a long-term healthcare plan that focuses on reducing administrative and drug costs and providing quality care for all of us. Health care is a right and it is the Commonwealth’s responsibility to care for all of its residents.

“I am for a single payer system and urge Democrats in the legislature to start moving in that direction instead of approving Gov. Baker’s approach of restricting care for poor and sick people.”

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Warren’s war chest grows — Gonzalez, Setti line up behind striking nurses — Lawrence eyes pot ban

By Lauren Dezenski
July 13, 2017

— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: “Setti Warren urges Tufts Medical Center to end the lockout of union nurses and get back to the negotiating table,” from Warren’s campaign: “I stand in solidarity with the Tufts nurses. I do so as someone who has sat on the other side of the collective bargaining table as a mayor and I know that the five minutes right before you come to an agreement can feel as hopeless as the countless hours you’ve already spent negotiating. You just have to keep talking. … I hope that the management of Tufts Medical Center will end this lock out and sit back down with their nurses to come to a fair agreement.”

Full Story: Politico

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Setti Warren Statement in Support of Tufts Nurses

July 12, 2017

NEWTON, MA – Newton Mayor Setti Warren today released the following statement in support of striking nurses at Tufts Medical Center:

​”I stand in solidarity with the Tufts Medical Center Nurses who are fighting to keep the fair retirement benefits they have earned. I hope anyone who has ever seen a nurse in action or been comforted by a nurse at the bedside of an ailing relative or depended on the loving care provided by a nursing professional will stand with the Massachusetts Nursing Association as well. Nurses are heroes and they deserve our support.

“While nobody likes the disruption that strikes can cause, the struggle faced by the Tufts nurses is a perfect example of why we need strong unions fighting for working people every day. Without the support of their brothers and sisters in the Massachusetts Nurses Association and other unions, the nurses at Tufts wouldn’t stand a chance against in negations with management.

“If you work hard all of your life, you deserve to retire with dignity so you can pass along what you have earned to the next generation. That’s a promise that was a bedrock of the American middle class, and as that promise has eroded, economic inequality has risen. If we’re going to push back on economic inequality, we need to keep fighting for decent wages, fair working conditions and solid retirement benefits.
“I urge the hospital and the union to sit back down with each other to negotiate a fair outcome for all.”

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Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz Endorses Setti Warren for Governor

July 11, 2017

Narkewicz praises fellow veteran’s sound management of Newton’s finances, military service
NEWTON, MA – Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz today endorsed Newton Mayor Setti Warren’s bid for governor.

During a visit to Northampton’s Bluebonnet Diner, Narkewicz praised Warren’s fiscal stewardship of Newton during his two terms as mayor.

“As a fellow mayor, I admire what Setti was able to do in Newton,” Narkewicz said. “When Setti took office, his city was running a $40 million structural deficit, and now in his last year in office, Newton has a $20 million rainy day fund, two AAA bond ratings, new school buildings are going up and new police officers are on the streets. That’s not easy.”

Narkewicz, a U.S. Air Force veteran, also pointed to Warren’s military experience.

“When you serve in uniform, you learn discipline and leadership, but you also learn that we all have to work together to accomplish our mission,” Narkewicz said. “In these divided political times, we need more leaders like Setti who understand that we’re all in this together.”

Warren served in the U.S. Navy reserves for 9 years, including a one-year deployment to Iraq.

“I’m honored by Mayor Narkewicz’ endorsement,” Warren added. “David is a great mayor and an important voice for Western Massachusetts, a region of our Commonwealth that often feels like Beacon Hill doesn’t listen to them.”

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Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz endorses Setti Warren’s Democratic gubernatorial bid

By Shannon Young
July 11, 2017

NORTHAMPTON — Mayor David Narkewicz threw his support behind Democratic gubernatorial candidate Setti Warren Tuesday, praising his fellow mayor’s achievements as the top official in Newton.

Narkewicz, who offered his formal endorsement of Warren’s run for governor during a stop at Northampton’s Bluebonnet Diner, touted the Democrat’s fiscal stewardship of Newton, as well as his military experience.

“As a fellow mayor, I admire what Setti was able to do in Newton,” he said, according to a statement released by Warren’s campaign. “When Setti took office, his city was running a $40 million structural deficit, and now in his last year in office, Newton has a $20 million rainy day fund, two AAA bond ratings, new school buildings are going up and new police officers are on the streets.”

“That’s not easy,” Narkewicz added.

Who can beat Gov. Charlie Baker?: Candidates make their cases at the Massachusetts Democratic Convention in Worcester
Who can beat Gov. Charlie Baker?: Candidates make their cases at the Massachusetts Democratic Convention in Worcester
2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidates Jay Gonzalez, a former CEO of CeltiCare Health and ex-budget chief for former Gov. Deval Patrick; Robert K. Massie, an environmentalist and entrepreneur; and Newton Mayor Setti Warren made their cases to party delegates and leaders for challenging incumbent Gov. Charlie Baker at the annual Massachusetts Democratic Convention in Worcester Saturday, June 3, 2017.

The Northampton mayor, who is also a U.S. Air Force veteran, further lauded Warren’s nine years of service in the U.S. Navy reserves, which included a one-year deployment to Iraq.

Contending those who serve in the military learn discipline, leadership and the concept of working together “to accomplish our mission,” Narkewicz offered that Warren will help unite Massachusetts.
“In these divided political times, we need more leaders like Setti who understand that we’re all in this together,” he said.

Warren, in turn, thanked Narkewicz for his support, stressing that he was honored by the endorsement.

“David is a great mayor and an important voice for Western Massachusetts, a region of our commonwealth that often feels like Beacon Hill doesn’t listen to them,” the Democratic candidate said in a statement.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Setti Warren pledges to fight for Western Mass on Beacon Hill
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Setti Warren pledges to fight for Western Mass on Beacon Hill
Despite his Eastern Massachusetts address, Newton Mayor Setti Warren pledged Saturday to fight for the western part of the state — particularly when it comes to economic inequality issues — if elected governor in 2018.

Despite his Eastern Massachusetts address, the Newton mayor has pledged to fight for the western part of the state — particularly when it comes to economic inequality issues — if elected governor in 2018.

Warren, for example, has said he’d like to to bring more good-paying jobs and transportation options to places like Springfield, if sent to Beacon Hill.

He is among several Democrats who have announced runs to challenge incumbent Republican Gov. Charlie Baker.

Jay Gonzalez, a former CEO of CeltiCare Health and ex-budget chief for former Gov. Deval Patrick; and Robert K. Massie, an environmentalist and entrepreneur, have also launched 2018 gubernatorial bids.

Baker has yet to announce if will seek a second term, although it is widely assumed that he will run again.

The election will take place on Nov. 6, 2018.

 

Full Story: MassLive

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Setti Warren Receives Minor Injuries During Pan-Mass Challenge Training Ride

July 9, 2017

 

NEWTON, MA – Kevin Franck, spokesperson for Newton Mayor Setti Warren’s gubernatorial campaign released the following statement:

​”Earlier today Mayor Setti Warren was thrown from his bike after hitting a pothole in Stow, MA during a 60-mile training ride for the upcoming Pan-Mass Challenge. EMT’s responded to the scene and transported Mayor Warren to Emerson Hospital as a precaution. The mayor was released from the hospital a few hours later with minor injuries and orders to rest.

“Mayor Warren looks forward to resuming his training for the Pan-Mass Challenge as soon as he is able.”

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Setti Warren Statement on Beacon Hill’s Budget Compromise

July 7, 2017

NEWTON, MA – Newton Mayor Setti Warren, a Democratic candidate for governor, today released the following statement on Beacon Hill’s budget compromise:

​”As I’ve been making my way around the Commonwealth hearing​ the concerns of people who think Beacon Hill isn’t listening, I’ve been asking people, “what kind of Commonwealth do we want to be?” While it will take more time to go through the budget that the legislature released and passed​ on a Friday in July, I’m concerned that this​ budget tells us what kind of Commonwealth Beacon Hill thinks we should be.

“By canceling the study of the East-West bullet train, Beacon Hill has decided that we’re not going to be a Commonwealth that connects the booming Boston area economy with important cities and towns in Western Massachusetts who have much to offer.
“By taking back money that has already been allocated to the MBTA to use to plug last year’s budget gap, Beacon Hill has decided we’re going to be a Commonwealth that doesn’t acknowledge that our transportation system is inadequate and underfunded. And by replacing it with​ borrowed money and repaying current expenses with interest, Beacon Hill has decided to postpone paying the T’s bills.
“By continuing the annual spectacle of using one-time fixes, fiscal sleights of hand and gimmicks to fix the budget, Beacon Hill has decided we are a Commonwealth that will not recognize the truth that state government needs new revenue.
“If we don’t fix this broken budget process – if we don’t stand up and demand transparency and admit that we need new revenue – the toll on the Commonwealth will only get worse. The key question facing us ​is what kind of Commonwealth we want to be. This budget and the way it was developed and passed suggest the Commonwealth we are becoming needs to change.”

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Candidate for governor knocks Fish and Game appointment

By State House News Service
July 6, 2017

Characterizing it as a gift to the gun lobby, gubernatorial candidate Setti Warren on Thursday decried the Baker administration’s appointment of a gun rights advocate to lead a $27 million state department that manages fisheries and wildlife resources.

Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matt Beaton on Wednesday announced that Ronald Amidon of Templeton, a highway construction manager and president of the Gun Owners Action League, would take over as commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game, succeeding George Peterson, who is retiring.

Newton Mayor Warren, one of three Democrats running for governor, called the appointment a “reward” to the president of the National Rifle Association’s state affiliate. “At a time when the NRA is working to make our country and the commonwealth less safe, it’s absurd that Charlie Baker would reward the leader of their Massachusetts group, which has targeted Maura Healey and her staff, with a plum job running a state agency,” Warren said. “We should be focused on making our communities safer, not rewarding the people who think we need more guns on our streets.”

GOAL has clashed with Healey over her decision to start enforcing a ban on “copycat” versions of banned firearms.

According to the state, Amidon has been active over the years with the Otter River Sportsmen’s Club, the Worcester County League of Sportsmen’s Clubs, the Massachusetts Conservation Alliance, Ducks Unlimited and Trout Unlimited.

“I have known Ron for 15 years and his reasoned and ethical approach to dealing with issues and his absolute love of the outdoors will serve not only the sportsmen and women but all in the commonwealth,” Sen. Anne Gobi, D-Spencer, said in a statement on Wednesday. Gobi co-chairs the Senate Environment Committee.

Full Story: Worcester Telegram

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Baker’s Appointment of NRA Leader a Mistake

July 6, 2017

Political payback to a group that wants more guns on our streets, Warren says

NEWTON, MA – Gov. Charlie Baker’s decision to appoint the leader of the National Rifle Association’s Massachusetts affiliate to lead an agency within the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs is a political reward to an organization dedicated to making our communities less safe, Newton Mayor Setti Warren says.

Baker yesterday announced Ronald Amidon’s appointment as head of the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game. Amidon is the president of the Gun Owners Action League, a pro-gun group that has led an aggressive, and at times offensive campaign, against Attorney General Maura Healey’s work to enforce Massachusetts’ assault weapons ban.

“At a time when the NRA is working to make our country and the Commonwealth less safe, it’s absurd that Charlie Baker would reward the leader of their Massachusetts group, which has targeted Maura Healey and her staff, with a plum job running a state agency,” Warren said.

“Gun violence is tearing communities apart,” Warren said. “We should be focused on making our communities safer, not rewarding the people who think we need more guns on our streets.”

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Mass. budget, marijuana bills appear intertwined in larger bargaining

By Matt Murphy, State House News Service via Greenfield Recorder
Date: July 5, 2017

BOSTON — Negotiations over a new state budget and legislation overhauling the retail marijuana legalization law might appear on paper to have little to do with one another.

But multiple sources close to the deliberations told the News Service on Wednesday that the fates of the two bills have become inextricably linked, with some officials now believing that a compromise on the budget is contingent on the House and Senate first agreeing to the parameters of legal marijuana oversight and taxation.

“The budget is all about marijuana right now,” said one legislative source.

Legislators returned to Beacon Hill on Wednesday after mostly hitting the pause button on negotiations for the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

The new fiscal year began Saturday with a temporary budget in place allowing Massachusetts to avoid the types of partial government shutdowns that spurred warring lawmakers and governors in other states like Maine and New Jersey to reach deals over the holiday.
The conference committee negotiating marijuana regulations gathered Wednesday morning in a House antechamber to resume talks after the weekend break, while a separate group of six lawmakers working on the fiscal 2018 budget continue to share ideas, according to House and Senate leaders.

“I know they’re meeting,” Speaker Pro Tempore Patricia Haddad said after adjourning the House session for the day where she presided.
By keeping budget talks open, House and Senate leadership can preserve extra chits to trade in an effort to broker a deal on marijuana. Holding back from signing off on a budget deal could also give the House leverage in negotiations with the Senate, where members favored making far fewer changes to the 2016 ballot law than House lawmakers and are content to leave much of the ballot law in place.

Settling on a tax rate for retail marijuana sales and deciding who should have the authority to ban retail pot shops from a city or town continue to be two of the major sticking points, according to sources.

In contrasting bills, the House voted last month to set a mandatory tax rate on marijuana sales at 28 percent, but the Senate opted to leave the tax structure in the ballot law unchanged at a maximum 12 percent.

Two sources told the News Service that Senate negotiators, as recently as late last week, indicated a willingness to go as high as 18 percent, but House conferees were pushing for an even split between the two proposals at 20 percent.

Rep. Todd Smola, a Warren Republican and the ranking minority member of the House Ways and Means Committee, said budget conferees continue to talk, but in the State House tradition of keeping conference deliberations private declined to go into details.

“We’re working at it. I don’t anticipate tonight, but anything’s possible. I anticipated something two weeks ago,” Smola said as he returned to his office after the House adjourned its informal session.

House leaders scheduled another informal session for Thursday in a sign that a compromise would likely be another day away, at least.

“I wouldn’t say we’re far apart, no. I would say there’s some differences,” Smola said of the budget.

Senate President Stanley Rosenberg said Wednesday he didn’t think the budget and marijuana bills had to be a package deal.

Asked whether he would want to take votes on both bills the same day, the Amherst Democrat said, “It’s an option, I’m not fixated on that.”

Spokespeople for the House and Senate Ways and Means Committees did not respond to a request for comment on whether budget talks have been tied to negotiations in the marijuana conference committee.

In the absence of a state budget, Newton Mayor Setti Warren, who is running for governor as a Democrat, warned of a coming “new age of austerity” in Massachusetts if those on Beacon Hill didn’t stop the “secrecy and fiscal games and gimmicks.”

“It is hard to justify — or even explain — why five days after the start of the new fiscal year there are no signs that Beacon Hill has a plan to deal with this year’s $400 million shortfall or next year’s projected $1 billion budget gap. One-time fixes and fiscal gimmicks have become an annual spectacle that distract us all from more alarming signs that our budget process has gone off the rails. Most disturbing is the entire process goes on behind closed doors with zero transparency,” Warren said in a statement.

Warren did not mention specific “gimmicks” that he took issue with, but Gov. Charlie Baker has in the past taken issue with the Legislature’s preference for underfunding some accounts, such as indigent defense counsel services, in the annual spending bill and then using mid-year supplemental appropriation bills to supply additional money as the need arises.

While it’s unknown how the Legislature will fund the Committee for Public Counsel Services in the fiscal 2018 budget, officials at CPCS confirmed to the News Service Wednesday that the agency has run out of money for fiscal 2017 cases and will not be able to pay attorneys until a final deficiency budget is passed later this year.

One official said the price tag will be roughly $25 million to pay lawyers who have performed services for indigent clients.

The Legislature and Baker administration are waiting for finalized June tax collection totals to come in later this month. Those revenues will determine how big of a budget gap Baker will need to close for the fiscal year that ended Friday after tax collections through May were running $439 million behind projections.

Baker told the News Service on Friday that he would detail the steps he has taken to control spending and close the final gap when he files the close-out deficiency budget for fiscal 2017 later this summer.

Full Story: Greenfield Recorder

 

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Setti Warren Statement Warning of a Coming Age of Austerity for Massachusetts

July 5, 2017

NEWTON, MA – Newton Mayor Setti Warren, a Democratic candidate for governor, today released the following statement warning of a new age of austerity in Massachusetts if Beacon Hill does not fix our broken budget process.

​”It’s tempting to keep our heads in the sand and pretend that everything’s fine, or to excuse our budget mess because it’s worse in other states. That’s certainly what Beacon Hill wants people to do, but I think it’s important to tell the truth about Massachusetts’ budget crisis.

“We’ve grown accustomed to a dangerous degree of secrecy and fiscal games and gimmicks, but the people of the Commonwealth need to wake up and demand answers from their elected leaders. If we don’t fix our broken budget process, we need to get ready for a new age of austerity in Massachusetts.

“It is hard to justify–or even explain–why five days after the start of the new fiscal year there are no signs that Beacon Hill has a plan to deal with this year’s $400 million shortfall or next year’s projected $1 billion budget gap. One-time fixes and fiscal gimmicks have become an annual spectacle that distract us all from more alarming signs that our budget process has gone off the rails. Most disturbing is the entire process goes on behind closed doors with zero transparency.”

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Setti Warren Statement on Concurrent Budget and Marijuana Negotiations

July 5, 2017

NEWTON, MA – Newton Mayor Setti Warren, a Democratic candidate for governor, released the following statement on continuing concurrent negotiations on Beacon Hill to pass an overdue budget and a marijuana bill:

​”While I applaud the House’s acknowledgment that our budget crisis is serious, I believe Beacon Hill needs to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. There’s no reason to delay implementing the will of the people.

“Gov. Baker’s failure to lead on the budget is already having consequences. Gov. Baker may look at the Corporation for the Public Counsel’s line item on a spread sheet and see numbers, but I know that our justice system cannot function unless every defendant has the able representation to which they are entitled. These annual budget gimmicks have real consequences for people’s lives.

“The people of the Commonwealth deserve answers to questions that are far more serious than the procedure of the legislature. What did Gov. Charlie Baker cut from last year’s budget to make up for a $400 million budget shortfall? Are the 140,000 people that Gov. Baker want’s to kick off of MassHealth going to be denied health care as part of a plan to close this year’s predicted $1 billion gap? Or is this just the beginning of austerity in Massachusetts? Why won’t Gov. Baker release a public level services budget that shows how much it would cost to operate state government at the same level of service for another year? Why does Gov. Baker refuse to release a sound 5-year revenue projection?

“Why does the whole budget process have to happen in secret?”

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Setti Warren Statement on Today’s Budget Deadline

June 30, 2017

NEWTON, MA – Newton Mayor Setti Warren today released the following statement on today’s budget deadline:

​”Today is the last day of the fiscal year. Tomorrow is the day a new state budget is supposed to go into effect, but the people of the Commonwealth have no idea what that budget looks like because Beacon Hill is keeping it a secret. We know that we’re facing a $400 million shortfall for the budget that ends at midnight tonight, but we have no idea how Gov. Baker is going to balance it out.

“There are currently three budget proposals – all based on revenue projections that nobody believes.The people of the Commonwealth don’t know how those revenue projections were put together, nor do we know how much it would cost to simply continue the same level of state government services into the next year.

“I have called for Beacon Hill to adopt the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center’s recommendations to make the budget process more transparent. I have also called on Speaker DeLeo, President Rosenberg and Gov. Baker to explain why they won’t adopt these commonsense proposals.

“Whatever secretly-crafted budget Beacon Hill leaders put forth in the next few days during this long holiday weekend in the summertime will almost surely be patched together with tricks, gimmicks and fiscal sleights of hand. That’s what we’ve come to expect from a Beacon Hill where the only rallying cry is, ‘let’s just get to next year.’

“We have got to be honest with ourselves that just getting to next year is not enough. If we’re going to be able to tackle economic inequality in Massachusetts, we have to start thinking about long-term investments in successful strategies like single-payer healthcare and free public college. We can do great things in Massachusetts, but it all has to start with an honest and transparent budget process.”

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NightSide – Setti Warren Is In Studio

By Dana Rae, WBZ
Date: June 29, 2017

BOSTON (CBS) – Setti Warren is the two-term mayor of Newton, and a Democratic candidate for Governor of Massachusetts. Tonight, Mayor Warren joins Dan in the NightSide studio to discuss a number of issues facing the state and to answer your calls. Tune in to hear Mayor Warren’s thoughts on the sanctuary city debate, state budget issues, healthcare, security, and other important topics and policies.

Watch Here: Night Side WBZ

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Setti Warren Statement on Opposing Proposed Compressor Station in North Weymouth

June 27, 2017

NEWTON, MA – Newton Mayor Setti Warren today released the following statement opposing a compressor station in North Weymouth after touring the proposed site with local residents:

​”In the last decade, Massachusetts has become a national leader on energy and environmental issues. That leadership is important for our environmental and economic future. The Baker administration’s support of this compressor station is taking us in the wrong direction and Gov. Baker’s refusal to meet with residents who are impacted by it is even worse.

​”One local resident, Andrea Honore, has used her lunch break to sit​ in the governor’s office for the last 71 days, but Gov. Baker has refused to talk to her about the compressor station. That is unacceptable. ​I met with her as soon as she reached out to me, and today I visited the proposed site with her to listen to her concerns. Following that conversation and visit, it is clear to me that this compressor station is a mistake for Massachusetts and I stand with Andrea and her neighbors to oppose it.

​”​If something goes wrong at the compressor station, thousands of people who live a short distance away could be at risk. Even if the compressor station works as planned, it will pump out harmful greenhouse gasses and contribute to prolonging our dependence on fossil fuels. In any event, this compressor station is not going to help the people of Massachusetts one bit. For the Commonwealth, this bad idea is all risk, and little gain.

​”​We need to ask ourselves what kind of Commonwealth we want to be.  Do we want to be a Commonwealth that leads the way on fighting climate change while keeping people in our communities safe, or do we want to be a state that continues to build an infrastructure for a fading industry even if it puts our citizens in harms way.”​

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Newton and Long Beach Mayors Win 1st Place for their Climate Protection Efforts

Globe Newswire
June 23, 2017

Miami Beach, FL, June 23, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Mayors of Newton and Long Beach are the nation’s top winners in the 2017 Mayors’ Climate Protection Awards, an initiative sponsored by The U.S. Conference of Mayors and Walmart. The winners were announced today during the Mayors’ Climate Protection Awards luncheon, which was held in conjunction with USCM’s 85th Annual Meeting in Miami Beach, FL.

Celebrating its 11th anniversary, this mayors’ awards program recognizes mayors for their energy and climate protection efforts, selected by an independent panel of judges from a pool of mayoral applicants.

“Mayors Setti Warren and Robert Garcia are national climate leaders, taking us into the next decade of mayoral climate leadership and demonstrating how action helps our cities and the nation,” said Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director of The U.S. Conference of Mayors. “Mayors continue to be the first responders in our global climate battle, and the innovative programs underway in Newton and Long Beach will help inspire actions by other cities here in the U.S. and throughout the world.”

“We congratulate the winning mayors for their innovative climate work and their leadership on this important mayors,” said Maggie Sans, Vice President, Community Relations for Walmart. “Cities and businesses are together in climate protection, embracing strategies that reduce waste and inefficiency, while saving money and the planet. We congratulate these mayors and many others for their leadership and innovation.”

“By enacting zero-emissions port and bus programs, integrating green technology into city design, and investing in multi-modal transportation, we’ve built a robust economy while also reducing our emissions, proving that you don’t to choose between the economy and the environment,” said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia. “Long Beach is honored to be recognized for its leadership and will continue to lay the groundwork to make it a sustainable city for the next generation.”

“My city has made sustainability through solar energy a priority here, as well as reducing inequality. This project came out of our desire to marry these two priorities in a way that is efficient, innovative, and inclusive and share the benefits of solar technology with lower income households,” said Newton Mayor Setti Warren. “We are honored to receive this reward from Walmart and The U.S. Conference of Mayors and appreciate their ongoing support of mayors’ work to address the climate challenges before all of us.”

In addition to the first place winners, Honorable Mentions were awarded to mayors in four large cities and four small cities for their exceptional achievements in efforts to promote climate protection:

LARGE CITY HONORABLE MENTIONS:

William Edgardo Miranda-Torres, Mayor of Caguas, Frank G. Jackson, Mayor of Cleveland, Stephen K. Benjamin, Mayor of Columbia, and Harry Kim, Mayor of Hawai’i County.

SMALL CITY HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Trish Herrera Spencer, Mayor of Alameda, Philip Levine, Mayor of Miami Beach, Shelley Welsch, Mayor of University City, and Zach Vruwink, Mayor of Wisconsin Rapids.

Full descriptions of these 2017 Mayors’ Climate Protection Award winning programs can be found at: http://usmayors.org/climateprotection/2017Awardees.

Full Story: Globe Newswire

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Setti Warren Statement on Rep. Seth Moulton’s Call for a New Generation of Leadership

June 22, 2017

NEWTON, MA – Newton Mayor Setti Warren today released the following statement in support of U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton’s call for a new generation of leadership for the Democratic Party:

“Rep. Moulton is right. The Democratic Party and the Commonwealth need a new generation of leaders who understand that achieving the common good requires us all to work together. We should encourage more veterans to step up to run for office and lead our party. The discipline, leadership and commitment to public service that veterans learn by serving in the military are exactly the skill set we need right now. Congressman Moulton is a prime example of just that kind of next generation leader.

“During the year I served in Iraq with people from all over the country whose views fell all across the political spectrum, we all understood that the only way to accomplish our mission was by working together. At a time when our politics is too often turning neighbors into enemies, we would all benefit from more of that kind of leadership. I thank Rep. Moulton for his efforts.”

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Supporters: New debate amplifies need for single payer

By Katie Lannan, State House News Service via The Berkshire Eagle
June 21, 2017

BOSTON — Backers of single-payer, government-sponsored health care on Tuesday told lawmakers that now is the time to adopt a “Medicare for all” system in Massachusetts, citing uncertainty over federal health care legislation and the burden of rising costs.

Supports of single-payer bills (H 2987, S 619) filed by Rep. Denise Garlick and Sen. Jamie Eldridge said the challenge of affording co-pays, premiums and high deductibles can keep people from obtaining preventative care or managing their chronic conditions, ultimately resulting in more severe ailments and more expensive treatment.

“We are working in a system that is still not only not patient-centered, I would say, but does not value health as much as it should,” Rep. Jennifer Benson told the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “The best way to reduce health care costs is to make people healthier, and that sounds really silly, but it is so true.”

Benson and Sen. Julian Cyr sponsored bills (H 596, S 610) that would charge the state with comparing projected single-payer system costs with current health care costs. The state’s Democratic Party includes single-payer health care in its platform, but the issue has not emerged as a priority in the Legislature, where the Democrats hold super-majorities in both branches.

Benson’s single-payer study bill has 46 other lawmakers signed on as co-sponsors, and 43 lawmakers are signed on to Garlick’s “Medicare for all” bill. There are currently 197 people in the Legislature.

With the U.S. Senate expected to vote soon on its version of a GOP-backed health care reform bill that has already cleared the House, Benjamin Day of the national single-payer advocacy group Healthcare-NOW said it is “especially pressing” for states to ensure residents remain covered by health insurance.

“There’s actually not that many states that have majority Democratic legislatures — or supermajority Democratic legislatures with Republican governors, as is the case here in Massachusetts — and actually are in a position to do so and enact an alternative that’s moral, that’s cost effective and expands access to care, but the states that have those Democratic majorities are moving towards single-payer health care.”

He said single-payer bills have passed one branch of the New York and California legislatures, and Oregon has commissioned a study on what single-payer implementation would look like.

Rep. Jack Lewis, a freshman Democrat from Framingham who said he campaigned on single-payer “and can honestly say I won on this issue,” told advocates before the hearing that fighting for single-payer would not be easy and would mean “working in some cases against people that are with us on other issues.”

“The residents of our commonwealth are done with technical fixes to big issues,” Lewis said at a rally on the State House steps. “They need us to take radical stances. They need us to make huge, changing decisions to bring us in line with the rest of the world.”

The Massachusetts Association of Health Plans, which represents insurance companies, opposes the bills that came before the committee Tuesday, arguing that a government single-payer system “will limit access to care, undermine quality, and do nothing to address the cost of care.”

“There are serious quality concerns associated with government-run, single payer systems,” the association said in written testimony. “The evidence demonstrates that these systems fail to provide timely access to high-quality, innovative medical care to all individuals. Often, patients have less access to the latest medical technology and breakthroughs, fewer choices, and longer wait-times to receive basic and specialty care.”

The Health Care Financing Committee did not advance single-payer bills to the full Legislature last session, instead grouping them in dead-end orders for additional study.

Dr. Patricia Berger, a retired primary care physician and co-chair of the single-payer campaign MassCare, warned the committee of “serious consequences” if the bills are rejected once again in the face of what she called “cruel and heartless policies” being considered in Washington. She said the American Health Care Act that passed Congress “will decimate affordable health care coverage for Massachusetts residents.”

Berger said MassCare has been working for single-payer for over 22 years and said “sometimes it takes a crisis” to change something ingrained in society.

Single-payer health care is likely to become a topic in next year’s gubernatorial race. Newton Mayor Setti Warren, one of three Democrats vying for their party’s nomination, has made single-payer a major component of his campaign, calling it “the best way of ensuring healthcare is a basic right for all people.”

Full Story: Berkshire Eagle

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Setti Warren Statement on Juneteenth

June 19, 2017

NEWTON, MA – Newton Mayor Setti Warren today released the following statement in observance of Juneteenth:

“It took two years for word of the Emancipation Proclamation to reach slaves in Galveston Texas, and it took many decades after that before the equality of African-Americans under law was finally recognized. Ten years ago, Gov. Deval Patrick first designated Juneteenth as a day of observance in Massachusetts in recognition of the significance today holds for many communities across the Commonwealth.

“Juneteenth is a reminder that even though information moves more swiftly than it did in 1865, expanding freedom and equality to all Americans still takes work. Today, as we celebrate the contributions African-Americans have made to this country and acknowledge how much progress we’ve made toward our goal of achieving a more perfect union, we must also recommit to putting our heads down, rolling our sleeves up and working together to keep our country and our Commonwealth moving forward.”

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Millionaire Tax Set For 2018 Mass. Ballot

By Steve LeBlanc, Associated Press via Valley News
June 17, 2017

Boston — A proposed “millionaire tax” constitutional amendment is heading to the 2018 ballot after Massachusetts lawmakers voted 134-55 last week to place the measure before voters.

Under the plan, individuals with annual incomes above $1 million would be subject to a 4 percent surtax. The surtax would only apply to portions of income over $1 million. The current income tax rate is 5.1 percent.

Supporters, who have dubbed the measure the Fair Share Amendment, say it would raise an extra $1.9 billion each year that could only be spent on “quality public education, affordable public colleges and universities, and the repair and maintenance of roads, bridges, and public transportation.”

“This fair share amendment is asking those with the highest income among us to pay a bit more, to pay their fair share,” said Democratic Rep. Jay Kaufman during the joint legislative session.
Critics argue it would hurt the state’s business climate, drive away jobs, and put pressure on the state’s wealthiest individuals to move away.

Senate Republican Leader Bruce Tarr said the proposal uses “divide and conquer” tactics to target a discreet group of taxpayers — as few as 20,000 — and make them responsible for improvements to education and transportation.

Tarr and other opponents also argue the question violates the state constitution because it amounts to a budget appropriation. Ballot questions in Massachusetts are barred from making specific budget appropriations.

At least one business organization — the Massachusetts High Technology Council — is considering challenging the question’s constitutionality.

Backers say the question is constitutional because it would still be up to future Legislatures to appropriate the money.

Democratic House Speaker Robert DeLeo said the amendment would “make needed investments to the foundations of our strong economy — quality education and transportation — without putting any additional burden on our middle class.”

Democratic Senate President Stan Rosenberg said the proposal is about “tax fairness and making critical public investments in education and transportation.”

The question has also become a key point of contention in the 2018 governor’s race.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Charlie Baker, who is expected to seek re-election next year, said the Republican “does not support tax increases on our hardworking families and was pleased to sign a balanced budget last year that reflects the administration’s priorities to create better communities, schools and jobs with no new taxes.”

All three Democratic candidates back the measure.

Environmental activist Robert Massie and Jay Gonzalez, a top state budget official under former Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick, released a joint statement calling on Baker to support the tax hike.

“At a time when so many are struggling to keep their heads above water, the Fair Share Amendment is a reasonable, modest step toward solving some of our most urgent challenges,” the two said in a statement.

Newton Mayor Setti Warren, also running for governor, said Massachusetts voters should be allowed to decide whether to ask people who make more than $20,000 a week to pay a little more.

The process to get a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot requires the measure receive the backing of at least 25 percent of lawmakers meeting in a joint constitutional convention during two successive legislative sessions.

During a constitutional convention last year, lawmakers voted 135-57 to approve the measure.

 

Full Story: Valley News

 

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Setti Warren’s Statement on Reports UMass is Considering Raising Tuition

Date: June 15, 2017

NEWTON, MA – Newton Mayor Setti Warren today released the following statement in response to reports that UMass trustees are considering raising tuition:

“It is unconscionable that the unwillingness of Beacon Hill to propose new revenue is forcing UMass trustees to consider increasing the burden on the thousands of Massachusetts students who are already forced to take on staggering amounts of debt to get a college education. I am sure similar conversation are occurring at other public higher education campuses across Massachusetts.

“We all know that many good jobs require more than a high school education. Raising tuition or fees could put that necessary education out of reach for some of the Commonwealth’s best and brightest students, and force many more to take on even greater debt.

“We have to be honest about the fact that our state government needs new revenue. It’s hard to understand how Gov. Baker could be opposed to the Fair Share Amendment, which asks people who make more than $20,000 a week to pay a little more, yet still support this misguided plan which will increase the burden on college students.

“What kind of Commonwealth do we want to be? Are we so focused on just getting to next year, that budget holes are plugged by gimmicks, sleights of hand and balanced on the backs of families of college students? I think we can do better.”

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Setti Warren Statement on Report UMass is Considering Raising Tuition

June 15, 2017

NEWTON, MA – Newton Mayor Setti Warren today released the following statement in response to reports that UMass trustees are considering raising tuition:

“It is unconscionable that the unwillingness of Beacon Hill to propose new revenue is forcing UMass trustees to consider increasing the burden on the thousands of Massachusetts students who are already forced to take on staggering amounts of debt to get a college education. I am sure similar conversation are occurring at other public higher education campuses across Massachusetts.

“We all know that many good jobs require more than a high school education. Raising tuition or fees could put that necessary education out of reach for some of the Commonwealth’s best and brightest students, and force many more to take on even greater debt.

“We have to be honest about the fact that our state government needs new revenue. It’s hard to understand how Gov. Baker could be opposed to the Fair Share Amendment, which asks people who make more than $20,000 a week to pay a little more, yet still support this misguided plan which will increase the burden on college students.

“What kind of Commonwealth do we want to be? Are we so focused on just getting to next year, that budget holes are plugged by gimmicks, sleights of hand and balanced on the backs of families of college students? I think we can do better.”

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Setti Warren Campaign Statement on Charlie Baker’s Opposition to the Fair Share Amendment

June 14, 2017

NEWTON, MA – Warren campaign spokesperson Kevin Franck today released the following statement on Gov. Charlie Baker’s clear opposition to the Fair Share Amendment:

“It is clear that Gov. Baker opposes the Fair Share Amendment. Mayor Warren fully supports it and has urged legislators to vote today to put it on the 2018 ballot. Mayor Warren and others who support asking people who make more than $20,000 a week to pay a little more to make investments for the next generation must prepare to defeat Gov. Baker on this question.”

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Newton Mayor Setti Warren Statement Urging Beacon Hill to Let Voters Decide the Fair Share Amendment

June 13, 2017

NEWTON, MA – Mayor Setti Warren today released the following statement urging Beacon Hill lawmakers to let the voters decide on the Fair Share Amendment:

​”When they gather in a constitutional convention tomorrow, I urge legislators to vote to place the Fair Share Amendment on the 2018 ballot. Beacon Hill should not take away the right of the people of the Commonwealth to decide for themselves whether to ask people who make more than $20,000 a week to pay a little more.

“We’re in the middle of a second full on budget crisis in two years. Just days ago we had an embarrassing downgrade of the state’s bond rating, And there are predictions that next year’s budget gap could be an eye popping $1 billion. If Beacon Hill is unwilling to vote for the revenue necessary to begin to solve this problem, the least they can do is allow the voters a voice in this important decision.”

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Newton Mayor Setti Warren Pens Open Letter to Beacon Hill on Predicted $1 Billion Dollar Deficit

June 9, 2017

NEWTON, MA – Mayor Setti Warren today released the following letter he sent yesterday to House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate President Stan Rosenberg and Gov. Charlie Baker in response to reports of a predicted $1 billion budget shortfall:

June 8, 2017
Governor Charles D. Baker
Senate Majority Leader Stanley C. Rosenberg
House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo

Massachusetts State House
Office of the Governor
State House – Boston, MA 02133

I write to you in reaction to an article in yesterday’s Boston Globe that said top economists in Massachusetts are warning that next year’s budget could face a $1 billion shortfall. Such a shortfall would not only put critical programs for the poor and sick on the chopping block, it would likely require cuts to other critical services provided by the Commonwealth, such as public safety, transportation and education.

A $1 billion projected budget gap next year would come on the heels of at least a $439 million revenue shortfall for this fiscal year. This last minute disclosure is made worse by the fact that it almost exactly matches the pattern of last year where the projected gap grew during the month of June to an estimated $950 million. Given this pattern, I am convinced that Massachusetts needs to reform our budgeting practices.

Even more concerning, the Globe story goes on to say that you, “may be tempted to use fiscal sleights of hand and to explore other avenues to avoid making difficult or deep cuts, as they have done in past budget crunches.” Please do not. Sleights of hand, gimmicks and other tricks may give the illusion of fiscal prudence, but painful cuts that hurt working families will surely follow.

This pattern of failing to manage the finances of state government – in a time of relatively low unemployment and steady, if uneven economic growth – is not the result of hundreds of experts failing at math. It’s the result of a non-transparent budget process that sometimes looks like a deliberately misleading fiscal shell game. The accounting gimmicks lead to real pain, like the governor’s 9C cuts in December which slashed $1.9 million from substance abuse treatment, the hundreds of millions of dollars diverted from our state’s rainy day fund, and the $142 million that was gutted from Medicaid and pushed into the future.

To regain the confidence of Massachusetts residents, we’re going to have to first start telling the truth about why Beacon Hill is careening from one crisis to the next.

As our leaders on Beacon Hill, I am asking you to commit to finally reforming the budget process so that we are transparent and honest about revenues and spending and to end the use of of one-time revenues. I urge you to adopt two budget process reforms proposed by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. For the good of the Commonwealth, I hope you will institute both of them immediately:

  • First, disclose the baseline funding levels each service needs in order to be maintained from year to year. While the budget shows a dollar figure for a given service, we never know whether that figure is above or below its “maintenance level.” A transparent declaration of how much it will cost next year to provide all of the services and programs we currently offer provides a baseline of how much money we need so taxpayers know whether funding levels are realistic, or whether supplemental funding will be needed later.
  • Second, be more transparent and honest about revenue estimates. MassBudget cites as one example that had we incorporated the impact of a dip in the stock market in 2015 around tax time and last year’s Earned Income Tax Credit change, we could have anticipated the shortfall earlier in the year. At this point, each of the three budget proposals being considered for next year is based on revenue projections that nobody believes.

I support these proposals  as a mayor who inherited a more than $40 million structural deficit in Newton which had no rainy day fund. With a transparent budget process, a laser focus on outcomes and by asking our residents to provide more revenue, we eliminated that deficit and built up a $20 million rainy day fund. We can do the same Massachusetts – and as a result begin the work of making long-term investment to tackle economic inequality – if we reform the process and start telling the truth.

I hope you adopt these reforms.

Sincerely,

Setti D. Warren
Mayor
City of Newton, MA

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Newton Mayor Setti Warren Statement on the Downgrade of Massachusetts’ Bond Rating

Date: June 9, 2017

NEWTON, MA – Mayor Setti Warren today released the following statement today after S & P Global Ratings downgraded Massachusetts’ bond rating:

“There has been much talk of Charlie Baker’s reputation for fiscal prudence, but now a respected, non-partisan financial rating agency is telling us that the emperor has no clothes.

“This embarrassment is not somebody else’s fault, Governor. It is not the result of a whole bunch of smart people failing at math. It is the result of a state government that has relied on budget gimmicks and fiscal sleights of hand for far too long.  It is time for it to stop — right now.  Today.

“For months I’ve been asking Beacon Hill to make the budget process more honest and open by adopting two simple proposals offered by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, and by pledging to not balance the budget by using one-time revenue that should go into the rainy day fund. After this terrible news, Beacon Hill should implement those proposals immediately. If they refuse to do so, they should explain why.”

Earlier today, Mayor Warren released a letter on the budget that he sent to Gov. Baker, Senate President Rosenberg and Speak DeLeo

June 8, 2017
Governor Charles D. Baker
Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg
House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo

Massachusetts State House
Office of the Governor
State House – Boston, MA 02133

I write to you in reaction to an article in yesterday’s Boston Globe that said top economists in Massachusetts are warning that next year’s budget could face a $1 billion shortfall. Such a shortfall would not only put critical programs for the poor and sick on the chopping block, it would likely require cuts to other critical services provided by the Commonwealth, such as public safety, transportation and education.

A $1 billion projected budget gap next year would come on the heels of at least a $439 million revenue shortfall for this fiscal year. This last minute disclosure is made worse by the fact that it almost exactly matches the pattern of last year where the projected gap grew during the month of June to an estimated $950 million. Given this pattern, I am convinced that Massachusetts needs to reform our budgeting practices.

Even more concerning, the Globe story goes on to say that you, “may be tempted to use fiscal sleights of hand and to explore other avenues to avoid making difficult or deep cuts, as they have done in past budget crunches.” Please do not. Sleights of hand, gimmicks and other tricks may give the illusion of fiscal prudence, but painful cuts that hurt working families will surely follow.

This pattern of failing to manage the finances of state government – in a time of relatively low unemployment and steady, if uneven economic growth – is not the result of hundreds of experts failing at math. It’s the result of a non-transparent budget process that sometimes looks like a deliberately misleading fiscal shell game. The accounting gimmicks lead to real pain, like the governor’s 9C cuts in December which slashed $1.9 million from substance abuse treatment, the hundreds of millions of dollars diverted from our state’s rainy day fund, and the $142 million that was gutted from Medicaid and pushed into the future.

To regain the confidence of Massachusetts residents, we’re going to have to first start telling the truth about why Beacon Hill is careening from one crisis to the next.

As our leaders on Beacon Hill, I am asking you to commit to finally reforming the budget process so that we are transparent and honest about revenues and spending and to end the use of of one-time revenues. I urge you to adopt two budget process reforms proposed by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. For the good of the Commonwealth, I hope you will institute both of them immediately:

  • First, disclose the baseline funding levels each service needs in order to be maintained from year to year. While the budget shows a dollar figure for a given service, we never know whether that figure is above or below its “maintenance level.” A transparent declaration of how much it will cost next year to provide all of the services and programs we currently offer provides a baseline of how much money we need so taxpayers know whether funding levels are realistic, or whether supplemental funding will be needed later.
  • Second, be more transparent and honest about revenue estimates. MassBudget cites as one example that had we incorporated the impact of a dip in the stock market in 2015 around tax time and last year’s Earned Income Tax Credit change, we could have anticipated the shortfall earlier in the year. At this point, each of the three budget proposals being considered for next year is based on revenue projections that nobody believes.

I support these proposals  as a mayor who inherited a more than $40 million structural deficit in Newton which had no rainy day fund. With a transparent budget process, a laser focus on outcomes and by asking our residents to provide more revenue, we eliminated that deficit and built up a $20 million rainy day fund. We can do the same Massachusetts – and as a result begin the work of making long-term investment to tackle economic inequality – if we reform the process and start telling the truth.

I hope you adopt these reforms.

Sincerely,

Setti D. Warren
Mayor
City of Newton, MA

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Newton Mayor Setti Warren Statement on the Anniversary of D-Day

June 6, 2017

NEWTON, MA – Mayor Setti Warren today released the following statement on the anniversary of D-Day:

​”On the anniversary of D-Day, I want to give thanks to the brave Americans who stormed the beaches of France, and honor the memories of those who died that day in the water and on the sand in service of our country. I have tried many times over the years to put myself in the place of those thousands of sailors, soldiers and Marines as they prepared to enter hell. I can’t imagine the anxiety they must have faced, or the strength and determination it must have taken to overcome those fears to retake those beaches and begin the liberation of Europe from fascism.

“The invasion of Normandy, along with other major victories in the Pacific Theater, in Northern Africa and elsewhere in Europe, are reminders of our strengths as a nation, and of the necessity of working hand-in-hand with our allies to make the world a better place.”

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Newton Mayor Setti Warren’s Statement on the Anniversary of D-Day

Date: June 6, 2017
Mayor Setti Warren today released the following statement on the anniversary of D-Day:

​”On the anniversary of D-Day, I want to give thanks to the brave Americans who stormed the beaches of France, and honor the memories of those who died that day in the water and on the sand in service of our country. I have tried many times over the years to put myself in the place of those thousands of sailors, soldiers and Marines as they prepared to enter hell. I can’t imagine the anxiety they must have faced, or the strength and determination it must have taken to overcome those fears to retake those beaches and begin the liberation of Europe from fascism.

“The invasion of Normandy, along with other major victories in the Pacific Theater, in Northern Africa and elsewhere in Europe, are reminders of our strengths as a nation, and of the necessity of working hand-in-hand with our allies to make the world a better place.”

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Dems tout resistance in state convention at DCU Center

By Cyrus Moulton, Worcester Telegram
Date: June 3, 2017

WORCESTER – Proclaiming themselves the resistance, Democrats raised the rallying cry against President Donald J. Trump and the Republican agenda Saturday during the Democratic State Convention.

“Are you ready for this fight?” asked U.S Sen. Elizabeth Warren. “We will resist, we will persist and we will win!”

Organizers said around 5,000 state Democrats gathered Saturday at the DCU Center for the Democratic State Convention. The gathering was held to adopt a party platform which included such causes as free public college education, a single-payer health care system and a $15 per hour minimum wage.

The platform also included that Massachusetts Democrats will fight for various policies ranging from making the state a sanctuary state and giving driver’s licenses to all of-age residents regardless of immigration status, to a millionaires’ tax and ending the militarization of police.

Several of the speakers noted that this year’s convention included around 1,500 first-time delegates, which they attributed to a surge of activism after Trump’s election in November.

“Being frustrated is not enough,” said U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern, D-Worcester. “We can’t change the past, but we can sure as hell shape the future.”

And although it was a state party convention, it was Trump and his policies that dominated the criticism.

“Donald Trump is uniting the Democratic Party in a way that it hasn’t been united in a generation,” said U.S. Sen. Edward J. Markey. “We need to send Donald Trump and his supporters a special message from Massachusetts: We don’t back down, because we know that on every one of these issues we are right and Donald Trump is wrong.”

Not that Republican Gov. Charlie Baker escaped unscathed.

“Some days I expect to find Governor Baker’s face on the side of a milk carton,” said state Democratic Chairman Gus Bickford.

But Baker was primarily criticized through his party’s ties to Trump. “Until Governor Baker speaks up against Trump…he will remain complicit,” Bickford said. “We’re not going to let him be silent.”

In fact, the convention provided an opportunity for delegates to be introduced to three Democrats who are seeking to displace Baker from the corner office.

“Democrats must do more than say what we’re against,” said Newton Mayor Setti Warren, a gubernatorial hopeful, who criticized Baker for leading the state from “one budget crisis to the next…. We must stand up loudly and with conviction and say what we’re for.”

Jay Gonzalez, secretary of administration and finance under former Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick, continued the criticism of Baker as noncommittal. “It’s easy to be popular when you don’t do anything, when you don’t take a stand,” Gonzalez said.

Meanwhile, environmental activist Robert K. Massie read through multiple aspects of the party’s platform and asked the crowd, “Are we going to get it?”

“Not with Charlie Baker!” he prompted the crowd to respond to each.

But it was Trump’s executive orders on immigration, withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement and other actions that drew the majority of ire of speakers.

“I see the face of resistance,” said Attorney General Maura T. Healey. “I see the face of resolve. Resolve to fight for values that truly make this country great.”

Attendees praised the speakers for letting them know they were supported in opposition to Trump.

“I needed to be in a room of like-minded people to give me hope that there’s enough people willing to do the hard work to fight back against Trump’s devastating agenda,” said Julie Woods of Uxbridge. “I’m not disappointed in that regard. There are a lot of positive messages that I really appreciate.”

Woods said the room was “electrified” by Warren, and Woods was one of the several people who described the atmosphere in the convention center in such terms.

“There’s a lot of excitement,” said Jeff Santos of Cambridge. “This is the most I have seen in my lifetime. People are more engaged, and I think that Bernie (Sanders) has a lot to do with it.”

Indeed, there were some signs of Sanders’ appeal among the delegates. The party adopted an amendment to the platform that supported abolishing superdelegates, and members of the Our Revolution Massachusetts party – which was born of the Bernie Sanders movement – hugged after the vote.

Not that the atmosphere was always positive in the hall.

“Vote! Vote! Vote!” chanted many in the hall as yet another speaker was introduced around 2:30 p.m.

The chants continued during several more speakers.

“It’s too long and it’s going to lose the attention of the new delegates,” said State Sen. Harriette L. Chandler, D-Worcester.

But the party unanimously adopted the platform as amended with some 15 amendments. Amendments included support for an end to gerrymandering, an end to private prisons and making Election Day a state holiday.

And people left the hall energized.

“I wasn’t expecting all the speeches, but they were uplifting and motivating, and I think it reflects how people feel in the current political climate,” said Cassidy Slamin of Framingham.

Hilda Haye of Centerville agreed. “I’m so committed to not just stand by and be silent, but be part of the solution,” she said.

Read More: Worcester Telegram

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Setti Warren’s Speech to the MassDems Convention

Date: June 3, 2017

Via MassLive – Mayor Setti Warren addresses the 2017 Massachusetts Democratic Party Convention in Worcester.

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‘If Washington Will Not Lead On Climate Change’: Mayor Setti Warren

By Jenna Fisher, Newton Patch
Date: June 2, 2017

NEWTON, MA – Newton Mayor Setti Warren said he will join the growing number of mayors across the country committing to the principals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

This comes a day after President Donald Trump announced the US would no longer abide by the non binding effort negotiated by almost 200 countries as a way to deal with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance set to begin in 2020.

“If Washington will not lead on climate change, cities and states must step in,” said Warren in a press release today.

Warren said by signing the statement, it affirmed Newton’s commitment to the principles and goals outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement and linked the city with people across the world working to protect the planet from the affects of climate change. He also took some credit for reducing Newton’s carbon footprint.

“In Newton, we have reduced the city’s carbon footprint in half since I took office in 2010. We will continue to invest in solar energy opportunities, build energy efficient buildings, and pursue additional technological advances to ensure that we are doing our part in this effort,” he said in the press release.

The Mayor’s statement commits Newton to “meet…current climate goals, push for new action to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius target, and work together [with other cities and international partners] to create a 21st century clean energy economy.”

Read More: Newton Patch

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Newton Mayor Setti Warren Statement on Draft 2017 Massachusetts Democratic Party Platform

June 1, 2017

NEWTON, MA – Mayor Setti Warren today released the following statement on the draft 2017 Massachusetts Democratic Party platform. Delegates to the MassDems State Convention will meet in Worcester on Saturday to debate and approve a final platform:

​”This draft platform is more than a collection of policy ideas and legislative proposals. It is a moral document that clearly articulate our values as a party and plainly states the principles we will fight for. At a time when many across the Commonwealth are wondering why Beacon Hill isn’t listening to them, this draft platform is also a challenge to our party’s elected leaders.

“It’s time for Democrats to ask what kind of Commonwealth we want to be – and it’s time for many elected Democrats to catch up to what the grassroots already knows: We need to implement big strategies to stem the tide of economic inequality like single-payer health care and free public college.

​”Massachusetts ​Democrats know that a single-payer system is the best way of ensuring healthcare is a basic right for all people. Nobody in Massachusetts should be one sickness or ER visit away from losing their life savings. Mass​Dems also know that ​it is time to redefine our commitment to public education to meet the needs of active citizenship in the 21st century.

“This draft platform and the open and transparent process that created it make a powerful statement about who we are as a party, what we believe and what we will fight for.”

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A Rapid Endorsement

By Lynn Daily Item Editorial Board
Date: June 1, 2017

During his regular morning commute to Boston from his Swampscott home today, Gov. Baker will have a chance to glance to his left along the Lynnway where the city’s abandoned ferry landing is located and to his right where the MBTA commuter garage sits half empty.

Baker pulled the state financial plug last year on the ferry, ending two years of summertime water-transit service from Lynn Harbor to Boston. Ferry riders loved their scenic and stress-free commutes, but Baker and his aides said pouring money into the ferry no longer made sense.

Never filled to capacity except during blizzards, the commuter garage is a concrete testament to why commuter rail is, at best, a mediocre public-transportation connection between the Lynn and Boston.

Newton Mayor Setti Warren evidently understands why the commuter ferry worked and why commuter rail doesn’t. He also understands that we have reached the point where the cost of not building mass transit exceeds the expense of building it.

Warren is a Democrat running for governor, and if the Democratic primary election were held tomorrow, this newspaper would endorse Setti Warren as the Massachusetts Democratic Party’s gubernatorial nominee in 2018.

We would endorse his vision, his common sense, his fortitude, and his ability to listen to what Lynn needs.

Warren came to Lynn one week ago to underscore why he thinks a Blue Line extension running from Wonderland to Lynn makes sense. Riders can board a Blue Line train and travel to downtown Boston in the same way Revere and East Boston residents currently utilize the Blue Line.

The Blue Line extension has been supported and endorsed by Lynn business leaders and elected officials, as well as officials in other communities, for 70 years. The Blue Line isn’t just a  simple and straight-forward solution to pulling people off increasingly crowded highways; it is a litmus test for the willingness on the part of public officials to map out a better future for Lynn.

Commuter rail does not work for Lynn. With its limited connection points to other destinations and costly inefficiency, it is an example of how one governor after another has come to Lynn and touted commuter rail as efficient transportation instead of listening to Lynn talk about the transit option we need.

Setti Warren is listening. He is also stating an indisputable fact when he points out the costs to the Massachusetts economy and to commuters if alternative transportation options are not available.

Building new roads isn’t the answer. Warren knows this, and he is not afraid to say new tax revenue is the only way to pay for needed transportation improvements. He is ready to run for and win the Democratic nomination by boldly saying, “We need more revenue.”

Like Setti Warren, we realize the time for alternative transportation solutions has arrived and the economic future of Lynn and other cities depends on those solutions.

Read More: Lynn Daily Item

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Newton Mayor Setti Warren’s Statement on Charlie Baker’s “Free Tuition” Pilot Program

May 30, 2017

NEWTON, MA – Mayor Setti Warren today released the following statement on Gov. Charlie Baker’s announcement of a “free tuition” pilot program to help some students go to college:

​”We need to be honest as a Commonwealth and admit that good jobs and active citizenship in the 21st century require more than a high school education. Massachusetts must reaffirm our place as a national leader in public education by making public colleges free​, just like high school. ​

“​While, I applaud any effort that helps any student get ahead​, this is not a solution for Massachusetts.​ We are a Commonwealth, and we have to realize that we are all in this together. Every child in Massachusetts, regardless of where they are born, who their parents are, or how much money they have, should be able to go to college without signing their lives away to crushing student loan debt.”

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Newton Mayor Setti Warren’s Statement on Charlie Baker’s “Free Tuition” Pilot Program

NEWTON, MA – Mayor Setti Warren today released the following statement on Gov. Charlie Baker’s announcement of a “free tuition” pilot program to help some students go to college:

​”We need to be honest as a Commonwealth and admit that good jobs and active citizenship in the 21st century require more than a high school education. Massachusetts must reaffirm our place as a national leader in public education by making public colleges free​, just like high school. ​

“​While I applaud any effort that helps any student get ahead​, this is not a solution for Massachusetts.​ We are a Commonwealth, and we have to realize that we are all in this together. Every child in Massachusetts, regardless of where they are born, who their parents are, or how much money they have, should be able to go to college without signing their lives away to crushing student loan debt.”

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Setti Warren to focus on economic inequality

By Geoff Spillane, Cape Cod Times
Date: May 30, 2017

HYANNIS — It’s official: Newton Mayor Setti Warren has entered the 2018 Massachusetts gubernatorial race.

Three days after making his long-anticipated announcement, Warren, the third Democrat to announce a run to unseat Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, visited the Times.

Warren, an Iraq War veteran, made it clear during his 30-minute visit that combating economic inequality in the Bay State would be a major thrust of his campaign.

“It’s clear people are falling behind,” said Warren, adding he has traveled to every region of the state during the past few months and people are finding it difficult to afford to live here.

“I’m running to face this issue head-on and provide solutions,” he said.

He also stressed his commitment to strengthen public transportation in the state, offer free public college tuition and advocate for the wealthiest citizens to pay more in taxes.

Warren says Baker has created an illusion of financial stability in the state by touting low unemployment rates, even though there is a budget crisis and important programs, including opioid addiction treatment on the Cape and Islands, are being cut.

“I’m going to be here early, often and late. I love the activism and energy on the Cape,” said Warren, who has family here.

Warren joins fellow Democrats Jay Gonzales, a Cabinet member in the administration of former Gov. Deval Patrick, and Robert Massie, an environmentalist and entrepreneur, in the race.

Former state Sen. Daniel Wolf, D-Harwich, has frequently been mentioned as a potential candidate. A call to Wolf on Friday was not returned.

Baker has yet to formally announce a re-election bid.

It was a big week on Beacon Hill for Cape & Islands District state Sen. Julian Cyr, D-Truro.

Cyr made his maiden speech to the Senate on Thursday, focusing on his support of a $1.25 million increase in the state’s Small Business Technical Assistance program as the state budget was being discussed.

When the dust settled after three days of debate on the Senate-approved $40 million budget, Cyr had managed to secure $2.4 million in funding for local initiatives. Beneficiaries included Children’s Cove: the Cape and Islands Child Advocacy Center, Housing Assistance Corp. and the Barnstable County Fire and Rescue Training Academy.

“It was a really big week for us,” Cyr said Friday as he traveled aboard a fast ferry back to Provincetown. “Given our tight fiscal restraints, we were able to do very well for the Cape & Islands District. For the few things we didn’t get done, there’s a pathway forward.”

Read More: Cape Cod Times

 

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Massachusetts Democrats gearing up for annual convention

By Associated Press wire via Boston Herald
Date: May 29, 2017

BOSTON — Massachusetts Democrats are gearing up for their annual state convention.

The top task on the agenda when the delegates, alternates and party officials meet on Saturday will be to adopt a new party platform.

Talk will inevitably turn to the 2018 elections, when Democrats hope to reclaim the governor’s office.

There are three announced Democratic candidates: Newton Mayor Setti Warren, environmental activist Robert Massie and Jay Gonzalez, a top state budget official under former Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick.

All three have their work cut out for them in trying to displace Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, who remains popular in polls of Massachusetts voters.

Caucuses are currently being hosted by local Democratic town committees and Democratic ward committees leading up to the convention. The caucuses are open to all registered Democrats.

Read More: Boston Herald

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Veterans Lead Democrats’ Governor Offensive

By Zach C. Cohen, National Journal
Date: May 29, 2017

The Democratic rebuild at the state level may be done on the backs of veterans of America’s recent conflicts abroad.

Just as Republicans took over the Senate in 2014 with the help of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Democrats have now lined up at least half a dozen current and former members of the military to run for governor.

Running in states from Maine to Arizona, the candidates could strengthen the party’s effort to cut into the GOP’s 2­to­1 advantage in governors—but they have tough fights ahead in primaries, against incumbents, and for open seats the party hasn’t held in years.

“Veterans aren’t dominated by one political party or the other,” said Jon Soltz, the chairman of VoteVets, a group that backs Democratic veterans running for office. “What you’re seeing is … the heightened amount of Democrats that are really upset over [President] Trump seeing running for public office as a source of continuing their service to the country.”

Just one of the nine current governors who have served in the military is a Democrat. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards’s background as a ranger and West Point graduate helped introduce him to conservative voters statewide in 2015 and bolstered TV ads that said then­Sen. David Vitter, a Republican, “chose prostitutes over patriots.”

Edwards met earlier this year with South Carolina state Rep. James Smith, a Democrat considering a bid next year to unseat Gov. Henry McMaster, who is also a veteran. Edwards media consultant Jared Arsement said he also met with Smith to discuss using a military record on  the campaign trail.

“Any veteran who’s looking at running for governor would probably do well to talk to John Bel,” Arsement said. Smith, an active National Guardsman who trained Afghan forces in Kandahar, said he won’t make a gubernatorial decision until the summer but emphasized in an interview that veterans bring to politics authentic city, humility, and “perspective that is very much in need right now.”

Democrats’ efforts to elect more veterans begins at next month’s Virginia primary, when Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam faces off against former Rep. Tom Perriello. Northam regularly touts his experience helping Gulf War veterans at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany as an Army neurosurgeon.

In an interview, Northam cited Virginia having one of the largest veteran populations in the country, but he also expressed concern about federal investment in the state’s military assets potentially at the expense of spending on health care and the environment.

“I’m all about a strong military, having served in the military,” Northam said. “But we have to be very careful: Where’s the money coming from?”

VoteVets endorsed Northam in January, days after Perriello entered the race. For next year’s races, the group has also already given $2,500 to Connie Pillich, who is running in the Ohio Democratic primary. The group previously supported Pillich’s 2014 state treasurer bid and the congressional campaigns of Rep. Tim Walz of Minnesota, a veteran of the Army National Guard who is running to replace Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.

“When I was faced with the deindustrialization of our town and watching my dad have to reinvent himself in his 50s—and how hard that was on my family—I knew that I needed an education,” said Pillich, who spent part of her eight years in the Air Force in West Berlin during the Cold War. “And I really liked the idea of wearing the uniform of my country, and I was lucky that I was able to exchange my education for my service.”

Iowa state Rep. Todd Prichard and Newton, Massachusetts Mayor Setti Warren echoed similar themes in interviews about their deployments during the Iraq “surge.” Warren, who is running for the nomination to challenge Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, learned as an intelligence specialist that “we couldn’t afford not to work with one another,” and he said the same applies to overcoming “divisive politics.”

Prichard, a lieutenant colonel in the Army reserve who deployed to Kuwait, said fellow veterans in the state legislature “tend to be a little bit less partisan,” especially on veterans care. “In Iraq, we had an enemy. They were trying to kill us,” Prichard said. “In here, the people on the other side of the aisle, they’re not really an enemy.”

Former Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson, who fought in Vietnam, is also contending for the Democratic nomination to replace Gov. Mary Fallin, who can’t seek reelection. Candidates argued that the skills they developed in the military can offer governing credentials. Arizona Democrat David Garcia, who hopes to take on Republican Gov. Doug Ducey next year, said his deployments to the Korean Peninsula and fighting fires in Yellowstone molded his “leadership style.”

“I don’t walk in a room and tell folks, ‘Hey, when I walk out of here, I’m going to be the guy in charge,’” Garcia said. “I walk in—much like an infantryman—looking to see what I can do, what I can contribute.” Democrat Adam Cote, a decorated company commander in Afghanistan running for an open seat in Maine, led a platoon that built schools and clinics in Mosul during one of the deadliest years of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He said as governor, fixing the state’s roads and bridges would be “one of the top priorities.”

“We built infrastructure in a wartime zone,” Cote said, “and frankly I can’t wait to do that in Maine, but without getting shot at.”

Read More: National Journal

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Gubernatorial Candidate Warren Campaigns in Framingham Memorial Day Weekend

By Susan Petroni, Framingham Source
Date: May 28, 2017

FRAMINGHAM – Last weekend, Newton Mayor Setti Warren announced his plans to run for Governor of Massachusetts.

This weekend, the Democratic candidate was in Framingham campaigning.

He stopped at the B Sisters Cafe on Sunday, May 28 to talk to residents and supporters for about an hour.

Among those in attendance was Framingham Selectmen Chair Cheryl Tully Stoll, Parwez Wahid, Norma Shulman, and Ohad Klopman, chair of the Framingham High Democratic Committee.

Warren, who has served two terms as Newton’s Mayor, is an Iraq War Veteran.

He is the third candidate to announce his run for governor as a Democrat. The others are Jay Gonzalez and Robert Massie.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican, is in his first term as governor He is expected to announce a run for a second term.

The election would be in November 2018.

Read More: Framingham Source

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Governor hopeful Setti Warren outlines goals at Framingham meet-and-greet

By Brian Benson, Metro West Daily News
Date: May 28, 2017

FRAMINGHAM — Setti Warren says he has big, bold plans if he becomes governor.

The two-term Newton mayor hopes to improve education, reform health care and help the economy expand.

“I don’t accept the status quo,” the Democrat said at a campaign stop in Framingham Sunday.

Warren, an Iraq War veteran who formally announced his campaign this month, faces Democratic competition from environmental activist Robert Massie and Jay Gonzalez, a former state budget chief under Gov. Deval Patrick. The Democratic nominee may face incumbent Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, who is expected to seek re-election in the 2018 election.

Warren spoke for about 30 minutes with people gathered at B. Sisters Cafe for Sunday’s meet-and-greet.

He touted his goals for a single-payer health care system as well as free tuition for Bay State students at the state’s public colleges and universities. A high school diploma, he said, is not enough in this economy.

Early childhood education is also important, Warren said.

Warren said he supports high-speed rail between Springfield and Boston, the South Coast Rail project and other transportation improvements.

A strong transportation network can drive economic growth throughout the state, not just in areas such as Boston’s Seaport and Cambridge that have flourished, he said.

Fostering renewable energy jobs and supporting small businesses are also important economic efforts, he said.

The state needs new revenue, which can be obtained from measures such as closing tax loopholes and implementing the so-called millionaires tax. The potential millionaires tax calls for a 4 percent surtax on any part of a person’s income above $1 million.

Warren said leaders need to be honest and transparent about the need for more revenue and look closely at how money is spent. That is an approach he brought to Newton as the city worked to overcome financial and other challenges.

Read More: Metro West Daily News

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Democratic gubernatorial candidate Setti Warren pledges to fight for Western Mass on Beacon Hill

By Shannon Young
Date: May 27, 2017

SPRINGFIELD — Despite his Eastern Massachusetts address, Newton Mayor Setti Warren pledged Saturday to fight for the western part of the state — particularly when it comes to economic inequality issues — if elected governor in 2018.

Warren, who launched his Democratic gubernatorial bid last week, said he’d like to to bring more good-paying jobs and transportation options to places like Springfield if sent to Beacon Hill.

He further called for better access to quality education and health care as he stopped in Springfield for an afternoon tour of Lioness Magazine, an online publication targeted at female entrepreneurs.

Contending that economic inequality “is the issue of our time,” Warren argued that growing the number of high-paying jobs in places like Springfield is one way to address it.

“This is a great city with hard-working people, innovative folks…What we’ve got to do is be able to build and expand on the intellect and the hardworking nature of this city,” he said in an interview.

Warren, who argued that transportation plays an important role in combatting inequality, also said he supports efforts to connect Boston and Springfield through high-speed rail.

“When we think about the challenge of economic inequality, growing jobs and economic develop, transportation is a key part,” he said. “We know certain parts of our economy are growing — the Boston-area — we need to see that growth expand to places like Springfield and Western Massachusetts, and we have to be deliberate about it.”

The Newton mayor further expressed support for free public college and a single-payer health care system, arguing that such policies would further help cut down on economic inequality in the state.

Noting that he has heard the concerns of Western and Central Massachusetts residents who do not believe they are being heard on Beacon Hill, Warren said if elected governor he would work to ensure that the whole state is represented.

“We’ve got to make sure that we have a Beacon Hill that’s hearing every part of the state and represents the interests of every resident so that we can build a strong foundation of economic opportunity everywhere,” he said.

Warren argued that Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, and state lawmakers “have not done enough” to address issues relating to economic inequality.

The Democrat, for example, pointed to recent budget cuts and argued that while the state has a relatively low unemployment rate, several people are working multiple jobs, lack benefits and cannot meet the cost of living.

“I don’t believe the status quo is good enough, I don’t think it’s who we are as a commonwealth,” he said. “We need to ensure everyone in this state has a voice, has a seat at the table and we are dealing with this insidious issue of economic inequality head on. It’s just not good enough what’s happening on Beacon Hill. That’s why I’m running.”

Fellow Democrats Jay Gonzalez, a former CEO of CeltiCare Health and ex-budget chief for former Gov. Deval Patrick; and Robert K. Massie, an environmentalist and entrepreneur, have also announced 2018 gubernatorial runs.

Baker has yet to announce if will seek a second term, although it is widely assumed that he will run again.

The election will take place on Nov. 6, 2018.

Read More: Mass Live

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Democratic gubernatorial candidate Setti Warren pledges to fight for Western Mass on Beacon Hill

By Shannon Young, MassLive
Date: May 27, 2017

SPRINGFIELD — Despite his Eastern Massachusetts address, Newton Mayor Setti Warren pledged Saturday to fight for the western part of the state — particularly when it comes to economic inequality issues — if elected governor in 2018.

Warren, who launched his Democratic gubernatorial bid last week, said he’d like to to bring more good-paying jobs and transportation options to places like Springfield if sent to Beacon Hill.

He further called for better access to quality education and health care as he stopped in Springfield for an afternoon tour of Lioness Magazine, an online publication targeted at female entrepreneurs.

Contending that economic inequality “is the issue of our time,” Warren argued that growing the number of high-paying jobs in places like Springfield is one way to address it.

“This is a great city with hard-working people, innovative folks…What we’ve got to do is be able to build and expand on the intellect and the hardworking nature of this city,” he said in an interview.

Warren, who argued that transportation plays an important role in combatting inequality, also said he supports efforts to connect Boston and Springfield through high-speed rail.

“When we think about the challenge of economic inequality, growing jobs and economic develop, transportation is a key part,” he said. “We know certain parts of our economy are growing — the Boston-area — we need to see that growth expand to places like Springfield and Western Massachusetts, and we have to be deliberate about it.”

The Newton mayor further expressed support for free public college and a single-payer health care system, arguing that such policies would further help cut down on economic inequality in the state.

Noting that he has heard the concerns of Western and Central Massachusetts residents who do not believe they are being heard on Beacon Hill, Warren said if elected governor he would work to ensure that the whole state is represented.

“We’ve got to make sure that we have a Beacon Hill that’s hearing every part of the state and represents the interests of every resident so that we can build a strong foundation of economic opportunity everywhere,” he said.

Warren argued that Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, and state lawmakers “have not done enough” to address issues relating to economic inequality.

The Democrat, for example, pointed to recent budget cuts and argued that while the state has a relatively low unemployment rate, several people are working multiple jobs, lack benefits and cannot meet the cost of living.

“I don’t believe the status quo is good enough, I don’t think it’s who we are as a commonwealth,” he said. “We need to ensure everyone in this state has a voice, has a seat at the table and we are dealing with this insidious issue of economic inequality head on. It’s just not good enough what’s happening on Beacon Hill. That’s why I’m running.”

Fellow Democrats Jay Gonzalez, a former CEO of CeltiCare Health and ex-budget chief for former Gov. Deval Patrick; and Robert K. Massie, an environmentalist and entrepreneur, have also announced 2018 gubernatorial runs.

Baker has yet to announce if will seek a second term, although it is widely assumed that he will run again.

The election will take place on Nov. 6, 2018.

Read More: MassLive

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Setti Warren Promises to Extend the Blue Line into Lynn

By Kyle Scott Clauss, Boston Magazine
Date: May 26, 2017

While all eyes are on the Green Line Extension, Setti Warren is promising to push the Blue Line even farther up the North Shore.

The 2018 gubernatorial candidate is calling to extend the Blue Line 4.5 miles from Wonderland, its northernly terminus in Revere, to Lynn. Though Warren admitted he didn’t know how much the Blue Line Extension would cost, a 2013 study conducted by the MBTA placed the number somewhere between $737 million and $1 billion.

“Here’s what I do know,” Warren told the Lynn Item Thursday. “The cost of not doing it is the loss of access to high-paying jobs, not getting cars off the highway and more congestion because that’s what’s happening right now.”

Warren, a two-term mayor of Newton, proposed paying for the major undertaking by passing the so-called “millionaire’s tax,” and reconsidering some of the state’s $12 billion in tax credits.

“The longer we wait to make investments in things like the [Lynn to Boston] ferry and Blue Line, we are growing economic inequality because we are not providing Lynn with the chance to grow economically,” Warren said. “It’s essential for the vitality of the city for these projects to move forward so Lynn can meet its full potential.”

In an interview with Boston earlier this week, Warren said his plan for fixing the T would include adding more trains on the Green Line and improving commuter rail service. “It’s really clear that the T is inadequate and under-resourced. When you look at the traffic jams across this region, it is the result of an inadequate, inefficient system,” he said.

Warren is expected to offer more details about his proposed Blue Line extension Friday morning during a campaign stop in Lynn.

Read More: Boston Magazine

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Warren Campaigns on Transportation Promise

By Thomas Grillo, Lynn Daily Item
Date: May 26, 2017

LYNN — With the harbor as a backdrop Friday, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Setti Warren promised to revitalize the city by reinstating ferry service and extending the Blue Line.

“There’s no reason why we can’t put ferry service back to Lynn,” he said. “It ran for two summers until it was cut. We need to restore it so people can get in and out of the city and expand transportation.”

The 46-year-old Newton mayor is one of three Democrats seeking the nomination for next year’s primary. Environmentalist Robert K. Massie and former Gov. Deval Patrick administration budget chief Jay Gonzalez are also in the race to unseat Gov. Charlie Baker, recently named the country’s most popular governor in a nationwide poll.

The ferry from the Blossom Street Ferry Terminal in Lynn to Boston’s Seaport operated a pilot program in 2014 and 2015. But the service was decommissioned last summer by the Baker administration, which argued it didn’t generate enough riders to justify the $700,000 in state funds annually to operate it.

On the long awaited 4.5 mile Blue Line extension from Wonderland Station in Revere into Lynn, Warren said it’s a project that’s time has come.

“The Blue Line extension has been under discussion for more than four decades and we’ve got to make sure it happens,” he said. “When the transit line is extended, that will expand Lynn’s economy. A few miles away in Boston, there are cranes on the city’s skyline and we need to make sure that spreads to Lynn.”

While Warren did not put a price tag on the projects which studies say could exceed $1 billion, the mayor said the cost to not do them is far greater.

“I don’t know how much they will cost, but what’s the cost if we don’t do it?” he said. “The cost of not doing it is the loss of access to high-paying jobs, not getting cars off the highway and more congestion because that’s what’s happening right now.”

To pay for these and other transportation projects, Warren is not shy about calling for new taxes and closing loopholes in the state’s tax code.

Warren said if elected governor, he will examine $12 billion in state tax credits that are lost to the treasury. In addition, he favors the so-called millionaire’s tax.  If approved by voters next year, the proposal would amend the state constitution by imposing a 4 percent surtax on incomes over $1 million. It would raise nearly $2 billion annually and the money would be designated for schools and transportation.

Warren spoke at a sparsely attended news conference in the ferry parking lot terminal on the Blossom Street Extension. City Councilors Peter Capanoand Jay Walsh happened to be at the site, scouting locations for summer concerts.

“This is a big part of fixing Lynn and getting things up and connecting people to our waterfront,” said Walsh.

Read More: Itemlive

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Warren Candidacy Could Connect in a Blue State

By Itemlive Editorial Board
Date: May 24, 2017

Newton Mayor Setti Warren is running for governor and political handicappers are unlikely to pick him as an odds-on favorite to beat Gov. Charlie Baker in 2018. But Warren, a Democrat, has a track record and a perspective on government that makes him an interesting candidate.

An Iraq War veteran who worked for the federal government and has served as Newton’s mayor for two terms, Warren is blunt about how well state government serves Massachusetts residents: “There is a case to be made we can do better.”

He will make that case during the gubernatorial campaign he officially launched on May 20. For now, Warren is talking frankly and not worrying about being branded a pro-tax candidate or another free-spending Democrat.

He supports a “millionaire’s tax” and said his campaign for governor will be matched by the stance he takes in favor of a proposed ballot question advocating the tax.

“We need more revenue,” he said in a February Item editorial board interview, adding: “Now is not the time to nibble around the edges.”

That is bold talk for someone wading into a big-time political arena like the governor’s race. But Warren has the bona fides to back up his statement. He said his record as mayor includes transforming an empty city reserve fund into a $20 million rainy day account.

When he walked into the mayor’s office for the first time in 2010, Warren made finances a priority. He worked with 17 public service unions to align city government health care costs and instituted management practices.

Comparing Massachusetts’ state government to Newton’s municipal government is like comparing Jupiter to Pluto. But Warren is kicking off his campaign for the state’s top office by sticking to a big-picture view of Massachusetts’ needs.

“We’re not making the investments that matter,” he told Item editors. He pointed to transportation infrastructure to make his point.

“We have a complete, utter failure in transportation,” he said.

The primary example he uses to illustrate this statement is the decades-long push by Lynn business and political leaders to extend Blue Line rapid transit to Lynn. Long looked upon as an economic development spark for Lynn, the Blue Line extension, in Warren’s, view is a way to make the North Shore’s gateway city a regional transportation hub.

The implications of that perspective are significant. Mass-transit alternatives are taking on heightened importance at a time when aging roadways are becoming more congested and clogged with traffic. Providing a Boston-Lynn transit link sets the stage for forging an economic bond between the cities.

Warren sees the logic behind the Blue Line extension and other long-term projects aimed at enhancing Massachusetts’ economy. The difference between Warren and a lot of people running for office or serving in public office is he is not afraid to talk about spending tax dollars in order to make a difference in Massachusetts.

He thinks a millionaire’s tax could generate an estimated $2 billion annually. Plenty of critics will line up to criticize the tax. But how many will offer constructive solutions aimed at fixing Massachusetts’ roads and bridges and modernizing aging housing?

“This is about economic stimulation,” he said, “and the courage and honesty to raise revenue.”

That’s a tough position to argue against and Warren is sure to state his case all the way to the ballot box next year.

Read More: Itemlive

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Newton Mayor Warren’s Last Prayer Breakfast

By Jenna Fisher, Newton Patch
Date: May 24, 2017

NEWTON, MA – What did you have for breakfast? It’s a simple question that can be quite telling. It can tease out information about who you are, where you come from and who you associate with. So said Rev. Douglas Robinson-Johnson chairman of the Newton Clergy Association this morning at the 43rd annual Mayor’s Community Prayer Breakfast – Mayor Setti Warren’s last.

What did he have? He – and a room full of city employees and leaders – had eggs, potatoes and listened to a call to action imploring them to tell their stories and listen to the stories of others.

“At this critical moment in history it’s absolutely imperative that we not only share our individual unique stories and experiences but we do so in places that are unfamiliar and uncomfortable,” said Boston City Councilor Andrea Campbell, whose district includes the neighborhoods of Dorchester and Mattapan, and parts of Roslindale and Jamaica Plain. “How often do we step out side of those … comfortable places to visit unfamiliar places?” she asked, adding that she doesn’t make it out to Newton very often.

Born and raised in Boston, Campbell spoke of her unique path out of Boston and her work to get to Princeton and then her return to the city after earning her undergraduate and law degrees. She spoke of how her mother died when she and her twin brother were only babies, and how she only met her father when she turned 8, because he was incarcerated. She spoke about bridging division through compassion.

She also talked about economic inequality and the power of grassroots campaigning, touchstones of Warren’s bid for governor.

Read More: Newton Patch

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Newton City Council Passes $388 Million Budget, Raises School Fees

By Jena Fisher, Newton Patch
Date: May 23, 2017

NEWTON, MA —The City Council approved Mayor Setti Warren’s proposed $388 million spending plan last night, despite the fact that two councilors voted against it. Approximately $219 million of the 2018 spending plan will go to The Newton Public Schools.

“The FY18 budget reflects the work that has been done over the last seven years, which has led to a continued investment in Newton’s schools, infrastructure, and public safety,” said Warren.

This victory comes ahead of an expected announcement by Warren that he will run for governor this weekend. Warren often cites his budget work in Newton as a major accomplishment.

When Warren took office in 2010 the city was faced with a structural deficit of more than $40 million by 2013, according to the budget report. There was no emergency fund and the pension trust had lost a significant amount of funds from the 2008 recession when he took office. Now the city has $19 million in “rainy day” funds, which accounts for some 5 percent of the budget.

“The FY18 budget sets aside additional funding for the city’s “rainy day” reserve fund, which did not exist in 2009 and now has close to $20 million, further ensuring a strong financial foundation for the future, and outlines plans to address the city’s long-term liabilities,” Setti said in an emailed statement.

Earlier this year the city received a Triple A bond rating from both Moody’s Investors Services and Standard and Poor’s, giving the city better interest rates in bonds sold and refinanced. Newton is expected to save $16 million as a result over the life of the remaining refinanced bonds.

The majority of the 2018 budget which begins on July 1 will be allotted to the schools to work on renovating five elementary schools throughout the next six years. Earlier this year the TAB noted the schools faced a $2.75 million gap and could face layoffs. The budget also includes the first year of a 10-year, $100 million road paving program with the goal of improving an estimated 40 miles of city roadway each year.

The City Council voted for the budget by a 21-2 vote. Ward 2 Councilor Emily Norton and Ward 3 Councilor at-large James Cote voted against the plan. Ward 2 Councilor at-large Jake Auchincloss was not present at the vote.

Norton said she voted against the budget because the increasing school fees didn’t sit well with her.

“In current school budget fee increases in the area of high school athletics, middle school athletics, and bus transportation for grades 6-12 are relied upon to generate an additional $150,327,” she wrote to her fellow councilors requesting that the fees not be raised, including 10 bullets on why not to raise the fees.

Her rationale included income inequality as a main reason.

“These activity fees on everything from athletics to music to drama act as a barrier to participation in these activities, particularly for lower income families,” she wrote.

Read More: Newton Patch

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It’s Official: Setti Warren Is Running for Governor

By Kyle Scott Clauss, Boston Magazine
Date: May 22, 2017

Following months of speculation, Newton Mayor Setti Warren formally launched his bid for governor during a block party at his home Saturday afternoon.

In his announcement speech, Warren called economic inequality the “defining issue of our generation,” and decried the state government’s efforts at combatting it. The Iraq War veteran also called for a government-backed single-payer healthcare system, as well as free tuition at all public colleges and universities in Masssachusetts.

“Our economy is leaving people and communities behind. Our political rhetoric is turning neighbors into enemies,” Warren said. “And as I’ve been listening to the people of the Commonwealth, what I’ve heard is that they don’t think Beacon Hill hears them.”

Speculation that Warren may seek to challenge Gov. Charlie Baker intensified after Warren announced in November that he would not seek a third term as mayor of Newton. Warren joins two other Democratic candidates: former Gov. Deval Patrick’s budget chief Jay Gonzalez and environmental activist Robert Massie.

Read More: Boston Magazine
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Setti Warren: Public College Tuition Should Be Free

By Tori Bedford
Date: May 22, 2017

Newton’s outgoing Mayor Setti Warren announced his bid for Mass. Governor on Saturday, emphasizing single-payer health care, reducing income inequality, and free tuition for public colleges and universities.

“Is it acceptable that people can’t afford to … attain basic skills at the higher-ed level?” Warren said in an interview with Boston Public Radio Monday. “Is it acceptable that students have crushing debt and they can’t make ends meet in this economy?”

Back in 2007, former Gov. Deval Patrick proposed universal free tuition for all Massachusetts residents that would extend two years beyond high school, either through vocational training or college. In 2015, President Barack Obama unveiled the America’s College Promise plan that would make two years of community college free on a national scale.

Both plans were largely seen as failures, an option Warren says the country can no longer afford.

“We’ve got a crisis here,” Warren said. “Does anyone in the state of Massachusetts … think that graduating with a high school degree allows someone to make ends meet in this economy? It’s fantasy.”

Warren suggested a conversation on how to raise more revenue and finance the effort. Warren supports the “Millionaire’s Tax” — a proposal that would increase taxes for those with an income of $1 million or more — and other revenue-raising initiatives like a soda tax, which would cover the cost of tuition-free college.

“Let’s not be afraid to say we need more revenue,” Warren said. “We’ve got to raise revenue if we’re going to do what we’re doing now as well as do things like free public college.”

“I believe it’s necessary and I realize it’s a challenge,” Warren continued. “The first question is, what’s the cost of not doing it?”

Read More: WGBH

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Why Newton Mayor Setti Warren Is Running For Governor

Newton Mayor Setti Warren sits down with WGBH’s Jim Braude.

Read More: WGBH

 

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Warren pledges to keep focus on Newton during run for governor

By Laura Lovett, Wicked Local Newton
Date: May 22, 2017

Last Saturday, Mayor Setti Warren officially announced what might be the worst kept secret of the year — he’s running for governor of Massachusetts in 2018.

There has been buzz around Warren’s bid for the Statehouse since he made public his decision not to run for a third term as mayor last November. In an interview Monday, the mayor emphasized his focus would remain on Newton as he begins his quest for governor.

“Being the mayor is my first priority. I have done this job 24/7 and will continue to do it,” said Warren.

He cited several projects including the completion of Zervas Elementary School and the start of construction on Cabot Elementary as some upcoming projects he is looking forward to here.

Warren said being mayor of Newton helped him build skills and experience that he would use as governor.

He mentioned the city’s recovery from a serious structural deficit under his administration as one of the key accomplishments he learned from. When Warren began in 2010 the city faced a $40 million structural deficit with no rainy day fund. Since that time, with the help of a Proposition 2 1/2 override, the city has been able to fund multiple building projects as well as maintain a rainy day fund.

“When I think about the kind of work we have done I certainly look forward to taking that approach at the state level and having a clear transparent budget on Beacon Hill,” said Warren.

Warren said that a lot of what he wants to focus on at the state level he has already been focusing on in Newton — in particular income inequality.

This is not Warren’s first go at higher office. In 2011, not long after he became the mayor, he threw his hat in the ring for, what is now Elizabeth Warren’s United State’s Senate seat. He dropped out of the race a few months later.

Warren will now face declared Democratic challengers Jay Gonzales and Bob Massie. If he were to win the primary, he would likely run against Republican incumbent Gov. Charlie Baker. Baker has not made an announcement, but is expected to seek a second term.

“But my first priority is to the 88,000 people of the city of Newton. We have several projects that we will see to fruition and we will be focused on those,” said Warren.

Read More: Wicked Local Newton

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Setti Warren Announces Bid for Massachusetts Governor

By Alexandra Prim, NECN
Date: May 21, 2017

Democrat Setti Warren, the two-term mayor of Newton, Massachusetts, has officially announced his candidacy for governor of Massachusetts in 2018.

Warren’s campaign was made public on Saturday at a block party in front of his Newton home.

One day before his gubernatorial announcement, he sat down with NBC’s Phil Lipof for a conversation about his vision for the state of Massachusetts.

He said that he knew it would be tough to run against Republican Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, but he’s up for it.

In Warren’s campaign announcement, he said that Massachusetts is “the greatest state in the nation because of the extraordinary intellect, talent, grit, and hard work of our people.”

He also mentioned income inequality, public education, and budget reform as major campaign touchstones.

One expert, Tufts University political science professor Jeff Berry thinks Warren will have a hard time winning against the popular Baker – if he’s even able to get out of the primaries.

“The state has a tiny unemployment rate; incomes are rising,” said Berry to illustrate why voters may not be interested in switching governors.

Berry also said Baker would have to really mess up in order for Warren to have a shot at victory.

The election for Massachusetts governor will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018.

Read More: NECN

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Setti Warren: Announcement on Gov. Run ‘Coming Soon’

By Phil Lipof, NECN
Date: May 20, 2017

On the eve of what he promises will be a “big announcement” at a block party at his home, Newton Mayor Setti Warren sat down exclusively with NBC’s Phil Lipof to discuss his vision for the Bay State.

“An announcement is coming soon,” Setti said, with a smile on his face. “I’m going to be laying out my vision for how we need to deal with this issue of income equality.”

He said that will be one of the main focuses of his campaign. He also wants to make college and health care affordable.

Setti said unemployment is low in Massachusetts compared to the national average, but said, “people are working two jobs just to make ends meet.” He wants to close the gap.

The two-term mayor lives in Newton with his wife, Tassy, and their two children. He is an Iraq war veteran.

While Setti wouldn’t officially confirm a run, he did give an exclusive look at a first “campaign ad.” It focuses on his family’s service to the United States. His father and grandfather also served in the military. Setti also worked in the Clinton White House for five years.

The mayor knows it will be an uphill battle against a very popular Governor Baker but, he said, he’s more than up for it.

We asked governor Baker about a potential Warren run today. He told us, “it’s always a very personal decision.”

For now, he said, “I’m focused on running the state.”

After tomorrow, it seems, he might have to focus on the upcoming campaign, too.

Read More: NECN

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Newton Mayor Setti Warren Enters Mass. Governor’s Race

By Steve LeBlanc & Bob Salsberg, The Associated Press via WBUR
Date: May 20, 2017

Setti Warren, the two-term mayor of Newton, entered the race for Massachusetts governor on Saturday, joining two other Democratic candidates hoping to unseat Republican Gov. Charlie Baker in next year’s election.

Warren made the announcement in front of his home, telling supporters in prepared remarks that income inequality has become “the defining issue of our generation.”

An Iraq War veteran who briefly ran for the U.S. Senate in 2011, Warren is touting two ambitious – and potentially expensive – ideas to make what he calls a “generational investment,” and help close the gap between rich and poor: a government-backed single-payer health care system and free tuition at all public colleges and universities including the University of Massachusetts.

“We have to redefine what public education means in the 21st century,” Warren said in an interview with The Associated Press.

He promised to flesh out details of his free tuition plan and what single-payer health care might entail in the coming months.

He also called for major transportation improvements, including upgrading the MBTA, pushing ahead on the long-promised South Coast Rail project and exploring a possible east-west high speed “bullet train.”

Warren acknowledges that his initiatives come with a hefty price tag. The University of Massachusetts’ flagship campus in Amherst, for example, reported $373.5 million in net tuition and fees in this fiscal year.

To meet the added costs, Warren openly supports new taxes, including the “millionaires’ tax” likely to go before Massachusetts voters next year. The proposal calls for a 4 percent surtax on any part of an individual’s income above $1 million.

Robert Massie, a longtime environmental activist, and Jay Gonzalez, a top state budget official under former Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick, previously announced their candidacies. Both Democrats also support the millionaire tax.

Baker is expected to seek a second four-year term but has yet to formally announce. The Republican opposes tax increases.

Warren was circumspect on what other new taxes he might consider, but did promise a review of all existing tax breaks the state offers to industries and businesses to see if taxpayers are getting the best return for their investment.

Doing nothing, he said, was not an option.

“Are we satisfied with what’s happening? Are we satisfied as a commonwealth right now with people not being able to afford to put a roof over their head working as hard as they can, not being able to afford health care, getting buried with debt?” asked Warren, a father of two young children. “Are we satisfied with that as a commonwealth? I’m not. That’s why I’m running.”

State government, he argues, has failed to think big, instead lurching from budget crisis to budget crisis despite a strong economy and low unemployment.

Warren drew the ire of many Newton residents when, after being in office less than two years, he decided to challenge Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown. He left the race after a brief campaign, endorsing the eventual winner, Democrat Elizabeth Warren.

“I ran too early,” Warren acknowledged.

All three Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls have their work cut out for them in trying to displace Baker, who remains popular in polls of Massachusetts voters and also sits on top of a pile of campaign cash – nearly $5.5 million as of mid-May.

By contrast, Warren had about $56,000 in his account. Gonzalez reported nearly $81,000 and Massie about $13,000.

“I am not a person who puts my finger in the wind and makes a decision based on which way the wind is blowing,” Warren said. “My intention is to build the largest grassroots effort in Massachusetts history.”

Read More: WBUR

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Young Black Democrats, Eager to Lead From the Left, Eye Runs in 2018

By Alexander Burns, New York Times
Date: May 15, 2017

MACON, Ga. — In Georgia, a Democratic lawmaker planning a run for governor promises to confront President Trump and what she calls the “fascists” surrounding him. In Maryland, a former president of the N.A.A.C.P. warns national Democrats not to take African-Americans for granted. The mayor of Tallahassee, Fla., goes even further, declaring that Democrats have failed by fixating on centrist voters.

In states from Massachusetts to Florida, a phalanx of young black leaders in the Democratic Party is striding into some of the biggest elections of 2018, staking early claims on governorships and channeling the outcry of rank-and-file Democrats who favor all-out battle with Mr. Trump and increasingly question his legitimacy as president.

By moving swiftly into the most contentious midterm races, these candidates aim to cement their party in forceful opposition to Mr. Trump and to align it unswervingly with minority communities and young people. Rather than muting their differences with the Republican Party in order to compete in states Mr. Trump won, like Georgia and Florida, they aim to make those distinctions starker.

And, these Democrats say, they are willing to defy the conventional strategic thinking of the national party establishment, which has tended to recruit moderate, white candidates for difficult races and largely failed to help blacks advance to high office under President Barack Obama.

Stacey Abrams, the Democratic leader in the Georgia House of Representatives and a likely candidate for governor, said Democrats would win by confronting a president who was viewed with fear and hostility by the party’s base.

Rather than pivoting to the center, Ms. Abrams, 43, said Democrats should redouble their focus on registering and energizing blacks, Hispanics and Asian-Americans, as well as young and low-income voters, who often decline to participate in politics.

“There is a hunger for representation,” Ms. Abrams said in an interview. “There is a desire to make certain the state starts to serve everyone.”

At a “Macon Resists” town hall event in central Georgia last month, Ms. Abrams appealed to an auditorium of anxious Democrats with just that approach. The state, she said, is speeding toward a political crossroads, with Republicans “terrified of the evolving nature of our state.”

“We can either move forward or we can let the president, and those fascists that surround him, pull us backwards,” she said. “I plan to go forward.”

Ms. Abrams, who filed paperwork this month to explore a run for governor, spent much of the event explaining the wrangling of the Georgia legislature in cool, pragmatic terms. But in the interview, she was adamant that Democrats could not “fake a conservative bent” in order to win the next election in her state, which voted for Mr. Trump by about six percentage points.

“A Democrat wins an election in Georgia by speaking truth to power,” she said.

In other states, black Democratic leaders have been just as pointed in their calls for the party to try something new. Benjamin T. Jealous, a former president of the N.A.A.C.P., is exploring a campaign for governor of Maryland while warning the national party that minority voters could stay home if they are not inspired. Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee and a declared candidate for governor of Florida, said Democrats had repeatedly erred by failing to “lean into our base” and by chasing votes nearer to the center instead.

These candidates have brandished data indicating that black turnout slumped in 2016, the first presidential election in a dozen years without Mr. Obama on the ballot: The Census Bureau found that black turnout last year dropped sharply from 2012.

The field of states where youthful black Democrats are competing in 2018 is likely to expand: In Massachusetts, Setti Warren, the 46-year-old mayor of Newton, is gearing up for a race against Gov. Charlie Baker, a hugely popular Republican. African-American candidates are more tentatively considering statewide races in Illinois, Nevada and Ohio. And in Virginia’s off-year elections, Justin Fairfax, a 38-year-old former prosecutor, is the favorite to become the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor.

A handful of somewhat older black leaders may also test their odds in 2018: Carl Brewer, 60, a former mayor of Wichita, is running for governor in deeply conservative Kansas, and in Maryland, Rushern Baker, the 58-year-old Prince George’s County executive, may also seek the Democratic nomination to challenge Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican with strong poll ratings.

In Florida, where Democrats have not won a governor’s race since 1994, Mr. Gillum, 37, said it was time to discard a losing formula: The party has typically nominated candidates for governor who are white, moderate and from the Tampa area.

Mr. Gillum, by contrast, has offered himself as a candidate of the left. A firebrand on the stump, he has called insistently for a rollback of Republican education policies and for aggressive action against climate change. Since House Republicans passed a bill that would gut the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Gillum has made protecting health care regulations on the state level a centerpiece of his message.

“There’s muscle memory that’s been built up over a long time about what the candidate has to look like, sound like, where they have to come from,” he said. “In our case, in Florida, it hasn’t worked.”

That sense of frustration among black Democrats parallels, in some respects, the exasperation Democrats in general have voiced after the 2016 election.

If certain black candidates like Mr. Gillum and Ms. Abrams are urging an untested path, they may find primary voters more receptive to the idea after the failure of conventional Democratic strategies against Mr. Trump. Mr. Gillum and Ms. Abrams have already attracted significant interest from national liberal donors: Mr. Gillum’s first fund-raising report showed contributions from members of the Soros family, and several donors supportive of Ms. Abrams are expected to create a multimillion-dollar committee to advocate her election, according to people briefed on their plans.

The determination to compete in 2018 may run deeper in the black community, where the sense of political exclusion is even more acute. With the end of the Obama administration, there are few black Democrats in senior positions of power: just two black Democrats in the Senate and no black governors of either party. A third black senator, Tim Scott of South Carolina, is a Republican.

There is limited optimism among African-American Democrats that national party leaders will work aggressively to change that. Several of the most promising black candidates or would-be candidates — including Mr. Gillum, Ms. Abrams and Mr. Jealous — are likely to face contested primaries against well-known, well-funded white opponents. And the battle for control of the House and Senate is likely to be fought largely in rural states with few minority voters, and in suburban congressional districts where right-of-center whites often cast the decisive votes.

Symone D. Sanders, a spokeswoman for Senator Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential campaign, said she was concerned that national Democrats might reflexively favor white candidates in close races, rather than trusting black candidates to win over swing voters.

“They are not going to get there on their own, so they are going to need to be pushed,” Ms. Sanders said of Democratic leaders in Washington. “We need to have candid conversations about the lack of recruitment, the lack of support, for candidates of color on the Democratic side.”

At a recent fund-raising event in Baltimore, a lineup of black Democratic officials and strategists lamented what they described as an attitude of neglect toward black candidates in some quarters of the national party. The gathering raised money for Collective PAC, a new political action committee set up specifically to benefit black Democrats running for office.

Speaking at a brightly lit downtown cafe, Jeff Johnson, a Democratic strategist and pundit, said the Democratic Party routinely told black candidates and advocates, “We love you, but wait till next time.”

“I’m frankly tired of being told what to do by people who don’t know my community,” Mr. Johnson said.

Mr. Jealous, who also addressed the Collective PAC event, said in an interview that he hoped the next elections could echo the moment after Jesse Jackson’s presidential bid in 1988, when Democrats rebounded from defeat by electing the first black mayor of New York City, David N. Dinkins, and the first black governor of Virginia, L. Douglas Wilder.

“Our greatest opportunity is just to be who we are — to be unapologetically who we are, to be clear about what we believe in,” Mr. Jealous said. “And I believe we can build an even bigger, much more diverse coalition.”

Yet for black Democratic politicians and donors, that optimism exists alongside a sharp feeling of concern about the 2018 elections, and a pervasive awareness that the end of Mr. Obama’s presidency has left their community’s political power at a low ebb.

As Mr. Warren, the Newton mayor, dined in South Boston in late March with supporters of a possible run for governor, one ally, Darryl Settles, a real estate developer and restaurateur, said the sudden absence of black Democratic leaders was especially conspicuous in Massachusetts, where the state’s first black governor, Deval Patrick, left office in 2015.

Mr. Settles, who lives in Newton, recalled that as recently as 2014 his children had attended a school with portraits of Mr. Warren, Mr. Patrick and Mr. Obama on the walls. A different set of portraits hangs there now.

“If we don’t support black candidates, then my son, who’s 11 years old, and my daughter, who’s 12 years old, would never, ever think to be a public servant,” Mr. Settles said, urging black Democrats to pursue high office. “If they’ve got some swag, if they’ve got a skill set, it’s their duty.”

Read More: New York Times

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A path to more diverse housing in Newton

By Mayor Setti Warren, Wicked Local Newton
Date: May 13, 2017

The high cost of housing in Newton is well-documented. In 2016, the median sale price of a single-family home in Newton was $1.1 million. We understood that for many people to be able to move to Newton or age in place, we needed a blueprint to ensure that we had diverse housing options in our city while maintaining everything we all love about Newton: the village feel, open spaces, and diverse communities. This is why I released the Newton Housing Strategy in June of last year.

In this housing strategy, in addition to seven priority locations that are ideal for housing development, I put forth two policy priorities to be taken up by the City Council. On Monday, April 3, the Newton City Council voted 22-2 to pass one of these priorities: an ordinance that allows internal accessory apartments by right. The passage of this ordinance marks the first time that accessory apartments will be allowed by right in all Newton single and two-family homes.

This ordinance is a vital component of our housing strategy. It is a great step in creating more housing diversity and moderately priced units, giving options to our families and seniors. Accessory apartments will provide much-needed diversity to Newton’s housing stock, increasing options and affordability. This new accessory apartment ordinance will allow individuals, seniors and families to reside and thrive in Newton and take advantage of all the amenities that the city has to offer.

I am thankful of the collaborative work with the City Council and community members who have worked hard to get this important ordinance passed in our city.

 

What is an accessory apartment?

An accessory apartment is a fully contained, separate unit located on a single- or two-family property. The unit is a full, self-contained housing unit with its own entrance, kitchen and living space. It can be in the house itself or in a building located on the property, such as a carriage house or converted garage.

 

What does the new ordinance do?

The new ordinance allows for the construction of interior accessory apartments by right and detached accessory apartments through the special permit process. The owner of the household with an accessory unit must live on the premises. There are size restrictions on the interior unit as well as other zoning and building code requirements.

The ordinance does not change the dimensional requirements from the city’s zoning code—all setback, height, and floor area ratio requirements still apply.

 

What it means

This new ordinance will have a direct impact on people looking to stay in or move to Newton. It will allow seniors to more easily age in place with smaller dwelling units and an option for supplemental income and create options for young people and families looking to put down roots.

The ultimate success of this ordinance depends on you: our residents. We know that this process can be difficult to navigate. I encourage anyone interested in building an accessory apartment to call our Department of Inspectional Services at 617-796-1060 or visit newtonma.gov/accessoryapartments for more information.

Read More: Wicked Local Newton

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City of Newton, Newton-Wellesley Hospital partner in opioid fight

By John Hilliard, Boston Globe
Date: May 11, 2017

Newton-Wellesley Hospital and the city of Newton say their new partnership will help in the fight against the state’s ongoing opioid abuse epidemic.

A new Substance Abuse Disorders Service team at the hospital will expand clinical education and training programs for providers, plus offer treatment for patients with chronic pain and substance use disorders, according to a joint statement.

The effort builds on an existing partnership between the city and the hospital to battle addiction: Three doctors from the hospital participate in the city’s Prevention, Awareness, Treatment, and Hope program, which targets opioid and other drug abuse issues.

The PATH program offers drug abuse education for teens and has established a permanent drug kiosk with Newton police to encourage safe drug disposal, according to the city.

“We look forward to building on our important partnership with the City of Newton to address the deepening and deadly substance abuse crisis in our community,” said Michael R. Jaff, the hospital’s president.

The newly created team to target drug abuse will consist of medical professionals, a social worker, and additional staff.

The hospital has the experience for treating substance abuse and working in the Newton community, Mayor Setti Warren said in a statement.

“By providing long-term care through recovery coaches and other support services, this new program will give those suffering from addiction the treatment they need for a successful recovery,” Warren said.

Almost 2,000 people are believed to have died from opioid overdoses last year in Massachusetts, where the number of deaths related to the drug has nearly quadrupled since 2010, according to statistics published by the state Department of Public Health.

Newton Police Chief David MacDonald said preventing and treating drug abuse are among the priorities of the city’s police.

“We are seeing this crisis play out on the front lines in our community, impacting people of all ages and backgrounds,” said MacDonald.

Read more: Boston Globe

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Mayors Promise to Fight Community Development Cuts

By Donna Kimura, Affordable Housing Finance
Date: April 18, 2017

Local leaders vowed a fierce fight to protect the long-established Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.

They are taking their stand as the 43-year-old program, which is used by communities to create affordable housing and revitalize neighborhoods, is targeted for elimination under the Trump administration’s budget proposal.

“At a time when many Americans are still struggling to make ends meet, these budget cuts would be a disaster,” said Setti Warren, mayor of Newton, Mass.

He and other mayors spoke out on the importance of the CDBG program to their communities Wednesday during National Community Development Week.

“Simply put, the president’s budget proposal to eliminate CDBG and HOME would make our cities less safe, less healthy, and more expensive to live in,” Warren said.

Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget blueprint slashes funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development by $6.2 billion, or 13.2% from current levels, with the agency receiving $40.7 billion in gross discretionary funding. The proposal seeks to eliminate the approximately $3 billion CDBG program as well as the approximately $1 billion HOME program.

“The president’s proposal is unacceptable,” said Steve Benjamin, mayor of Columbia, S.C. “These cuts proposed by the administration would not reduce the federal budget deficit, but they would hamstring local community development and all of our workforce housing efforts when our cities and citizens can least afford it.”

The elimination of CDBG could cripple the redevelopment of the deteriorating Gonzales Gardens public housing project in Columbia, he said.

Officials and their partners have been working on redeveloping the property into a mixed-income, mixed-use neighborhood. The revitalization effort has a significant CDBG component to it, according to Benjamin.

Roy Charles Brooks, Tarrant County (Texas) commissioner and first vice president of the National Association of Counties, called CDBG the “No. 1 funding source” for replacing deteriorating infrastructure in his county’s older residential areas and a key funding source for housing programs.

“Our country is facing an affordable housing crisis as well as deteriorating infrastructure,” he said. “For every 100 households in Tarrant County seeking affordable housing options, there are only 19 affordable units to be had.”

Overall, the CDBG program provides funding to 1,200 states, territories, and local governments, according to Bonnie Moore, director of the community development department in Shreveport, La., and president of the National Community Development Association.

Approximately half of Shreveport’s $1.6 million in CDBG funds go toward affordable housing, said Moore, noting that the city has a poverty rate of about 22%. “Affordable housing is one of the tools to reduce poverty in our community,” she said.

The funding stretches across the country. New York City receives approximately $151 million in CDBG funds; Albuquerque, N.M., gets $3.8 million; and Nashville, Tenn., gets $4.7 million, said Tom Cochran, CEO and executive director of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

“This is not small change,” he said. “This is a program that’s been infused in the local government since 1974. It would cause great devastation to city budgets as we have worked to come out of the greatest recession since the Great Depression.”

The conference assembled the local leaders for a conference call with reporters.

Mayor Brian Wahler of Piscataway, N.J., added that CDBG funds help his city to supplement the regional Meals on Wheels program. His point is that the CDBG has been an extremely flexible tool for local communities to target their unique needs.

Potential cuts to the popular Meals on Wheels program drew much media attention when initially announced.

Although CDBG has received strong bipartisan support over the years, the officials said they are taking no chances.

They are calling on the administration and Congress to reject the proposed cuts and at least maintain funding at current levels, citing that funding for CDBG has decreased by about $1.4 billion since 2001.

Brooks said CDBG may have been targeted in the budget proposal because it’s size.

“What we’re doing today is to try to say to the Congress and to the administration that yes this is a large number, but it creates large benefits for communities across this country,” he said. “In putting together the budget, perhaps they should use a scalpel instead of a meat-ax.”

Read More: Affordable Housing Finance

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Setti Warren calls for ‘people’s pledge’ in 2018 race for governor

By Nik DeCosta-Klipa
Date: April 4, 2017

There are now two Warrens in Massachusetts calling for a 2018 “people’s pledge.”

Newton Mayor Setti Warren said Tuesday he would seek an agreement among candidates to ban advertising from independent political groups in the looming 2018 gubernatorial race — if he runs.

The Democratic mayor — who is considering and reportedly fundraising for a campaign against Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker — echoed Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s call last week to bring back the so-called “people’s pledge,” which was first brokered in 2012 during her race against Republican incumbent Sen. Scott Brown.

“If the People’s Pledge was good enough for Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown, it should be good enough for people running for governor,” Setti Warren said in a statement Tuesday.

Warren cited a study by the progressive advocacy group Common Cause that found the pledge “drastically reduced outside spending” in the 2012 Massachusetts race compared to other races at the time. The 2013 study also found that the agreement increased the influence of small-dollar donations and resulted in “significantly less negative advertising” (even if the 2012 campaign did become notably ugly).

Nevertheless, Warren said Tuesday that the pledge — which requires candidates who benefit from outside advertising to pay a penalty — would “keep anonymous millionaires and billionaires from rigging the 2018 elections in Massachusetts.”

“We know that the ground-breaking agreement brokered between Scott Brown and Sen. Warren in 2012 worked then and it will work now,” he said.

Warren said he would call for the pledge in both the gubernatorial Democratic primary and the general election. So far, Democrat Jay Gonzalez, a former budget aide for Gov. Deval Patrick, is the only person to officially announce their candidacy in the 2018 gubernatorial race.

In a statement Tuesday evening, Gonzalez decried the increase in outside spending since the 2010 Citizens United court decision and said he supports measures to “make government more accessible and responsive to all.”

“Once there are other declared candidates for Governor to talk to about the best way to limit dark money from influencing the Governor’s race, I intend to talk to them,” Gonzalez said.

Asked about Warren’s calls for a people’s pledge, Massachusetts Republican Party spokesman Terry MacCormack reiterated Tuesday that neither Baker nor Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito had yet made any announcements regarding their intention to seek re-election.

“They remain focused on leading an accountable, efficient and responsive state government,” MacCormack said.

In 2012, Elizabeth Warren and Brown agreed that, if either benefited from outside advertising, said candidate would have to donate a penalty worth half the value of the ad to a charity of the other’s choosing. Brown twice agreed to pay a penalty after third-party groups ran ads in favor of his campaign.

During the 2014 gubernatorial race, Baker rebuffed calls from then-Attorney General Martha Coakley, his Democratic opponent, for a people’s pledge. Baker went on to receive more than $11 million in outside spending (mostly from the Republican Governors’ Association), compared to $6.9 million received by Coakley, en route to winning the election.

According to Tuesday’s filing with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance, Warren has just over $58,024 in his campaign account. Last November, he announced he would not seek a third term as mayor of Newton.

Gonzalez has more than $116,864 on-hand for his gubernatorial bid, per his most recent filing Monday.

According to a campaign filing Monday, Baker has more than $5.2 million.

Read More: Boston.com

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Hand: From one war veteran to another: Thanks

By Jim Hand, Sun Chronicle
Date: April 2, 2017

Politicians usually can’t wait to talk about themselves, but the other day in Attleboro Newton Mayor Setti Warren delayed waxing about his own virtues to pay tribute to someone in the audience.

Warren told the crowd at a Democratic breakfast that he was talking to Peter Brock of North Attleboro earlier and learned Brock is a Vietnam veteran.

A likely candidate for governor who served as an intelligence specialist in Iraq, Warren said when he got home he got a warm welcome.

But, for guys like Brock, America was not always so welcoming to those returning from Vietnam.

Warren asked the crowd to show its appreciation for Brock’s service and the long-time local activist got a sustained ovation that seemed to touch him.

Brock, an Army veteran, quickly diverted attention to Bill Bowles of Attleboro, who was a crew chief in a Huey helicopter while serving in Vietnam in 1968. Perhaps it was Warren’s own service that makes him sensitive to those like Brock.

Warren was in the naval reserves. His father fought in Korea and his grandfather at the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.

In any case, several people at the event said later they thought it was a nice gesture on the part of Warren.

Read more: Sun Chronicle

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Newton mayor affirms his city’s sanctuary stance

By Boston Herald
Date: March 30, 2017

Newton Mayor Setti Warren is following Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s lead, with a vow to open his own city hall as a safe haven for illegal immigrants if President Trump steps up deportations.

“If in fact there are draconian measures taken by the federal government and people feel unsafe and they need places to go, of course I would,” Warren said on Boston Herald Radio’s “Morning Meeting” with Jaclyn Cashman and Hillary Chabot. “I think that’s who we are, that’s who our values are. I think you’d find a lot of people in my city who would open their doors.”

Despite threats from the Trump administration to withhold federal funding from sanctuary cities, Warren continues to stand behind Newton’s Welcoming City Ordinance, saying it “demonstrated who we are and what we’re trying to do — that we are welcoming to all people … it’s really the effort we’re making, and who we are, and our values, and how we do community policing.”

“When we have this kind of irresponsible action or lack of action at the federal level, state and local governments have to figure out how to keep people safe, keep people employed, make sure people are contributing to their communities,” he said.

Warren is mulling a run for governor, and said his campaign would be driven by changes he wants to see in Massachusetts.

“I am very concerned about education here in the commonwealth, I am very concerned about transportation, I’m concerned about housing, I’m concerned about the funding and the proposed cuts proposed at the federal government,” he said. “We need a real economic development strategy that grows jobs for people, that implements good, sound regional transportation, and that improves education opportunities … these are the things we need to be proactive about here in the state, in addition to responding to things like the sanctuary cities questions and undocumented immigrants.”

He said that a Warren run for governor wouldn’t be so much about replacing Gov. Charlie Baker, but would be about how Beacon Hill operates and about bettering the commonwealth by ensuring opportunity for everyone.

“It’s about outcomes for people and that’s what I’ve done in Newton, and that’s what kind of governor I’d be if I run.”

Read More: Boston Herald

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Newton Mayor: ‘Of Course I Would’ Offer City Hall as Safe Haven For Immigrants

By Alex Newman, Newton Patch
Date: March 30, 2017

NEWTON, MA – Newton Mayor Setti Warren said Wednesday he would offer up city hall as a safe haven for undocumented immigrants if the Trump administration ramped up deportations, echoing a similar pledge made by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh earlier this year.

“If in fact there are draconian measures taken by the federal government and people feel unsafe and they need places to go, of course I would,” Warren said in an interview with Boston Herald Radio. “I think that’s who we are, that’s who our values are. I think you’d find a lot of people in my city who would open their doors.”

The mayor’s comments reaffirm Newton’s stance as a “Welcoming City,” which was passed as a city ordinance earlier this year. While not establishing Newton as a sanctuary in the vein of Somerville or Cambridge, the ordinance limits local law enforcement’s cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

Sanctuary cities and municipalities enacting related legislation were put under the microscope this week following renewed warnings from Attorney General Jeff Sessions that they would lose federal funding and a call for elected officials in sanctuary cities to be arrested.

Warren also touched on his possible run for governor and the issues he would address in his interview with the Herald.

Read More: Newton Patch

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Setti Warren to Trump AG: ‘Welcoming City will remain law of the land here’

By Wicked Local Newton
Date: March 28, 2017

Mayor Setti Warren pulled no punches in his response to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ statement Monday that reaffirmed the Trump administration’s vow to withhold federal funding from so-called “sanctuary cities.”

Newton’s recently approved “Welcoming City” ordinance limits local law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration authorities such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“With all due respect to the attorney general, Jeff Sessions doesn’t decide what happens in Newton. Instead of issuing threats from Washington, D.C., the Trump administration might want to take a look at our community-based process that brought proponents of sanctuary cities and supporters of Donald Trump together. The Welcoming City ordinance we passed in Newton brought together people of many perspectives with the ultimate goal of keeping our community safe.”

Warren added Newton will not be a community where police are part of any “deportation force.”

“Or where immigrants are fearful of being torn from their families for minor offenses,” he said. “We will be a community where all feel welcome and safe, no matter their immigration status. There was overwhelming support from the Newton community to affirm these values through an ordinance and the Welcoming City ordinance will remain the law of the land here.”

Read More: Wicked Local Newton

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Setti Warren draws on old Dukakis team

By Franck Philips, Boston Globe
Date: March 14, 2017

It’s the return of the old Dukakoids. (That’s the term Governor Bill Weld’s folks gave them as they swept many of former governor Michael Dukakis’s team out of the State House in 1991).

Newton Mayor Setti Warren, whose father, Joe Warren, was a key figure in Dukakis’s political operations in the 1980s, has pulled together a finance committee for a potential run for governor that is full of people from the former governor’s network.

Phil Johnston, Lenny Aronson, Leon and Brenda Braithwaite, Barry Weiner, Kris Balderston, and Steve Grossman, among others, have joined Dukakis and his wife, Kitty, to serve on the 40-member finance team for Warren’s yet-to-be announced run for governor.

Warren, who interned in Dukakis’s health and humans services secretariat when he was a student, watched as his father served as Dukakis’s point-man in the African American community in his second and third terms.

The elder Warren, who served as assistant secretary of education under Dukakis in the 1970s and then worked as a professor and an administrator at Northeastern University, headed up what was casually known as the Warren Commission, a group of prominent Massachusetts African-American leaders who reached out across the country to promote Dukakis’s 1988 presidential bid. He died at 71 in 2010.

The Newton mayor is expected to decide in the next several months whether to join the only declared Democratic candidate, Jay Gonzalez, in the race for 2018 party nomination.

“While I have not yet made a final decision, the formation of a volunteer finance committee is one of the many important steps we are taking to prepare for a possible campaign,” Warren said.

Read More: Boston Globe

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Newton Mayor Setti Warren looks to the future in his last State of the City address

By Laura Lovett, Wicked Local Newton
Date: February 22, 2017

Mayor Setti Warren urged the city to look to the future and stick to the guiding principles he has used throughout his two terms, in his final State of the City address last Tuesday night.

In November Warren announced he would not be running for a third term.

“Though this is my final State of the City, I don’t see my final year as mayor as an end — but rather a foundation for what is possible in our great city,” said Warren.

The speech highlighted the fiscal improvement in the city during Warren’s two terms, the city’s housing strategy, and he released a new transportation strategy, “Newton-in-Motion.”

Warren reiterated three guiding principles he has used since he took office in 2010: Putting in place strong fiscal discipline, making tough fiscal policies based on outcomes for individuals and families and listening and bringing people together to solve difficult challenges.

“Daring to make what might seem impossible possible so that one can make the lives better for people — with a guiding belief in the goodness and values of the people you work for — the residents of Newton,” said Warren.

 

Fiscal strategy

Warren outlined the fiscal strategy during his two terms in office, starting in 2010, when he took office and the city faced a large projected budget deficit.

His administration began using zero-based budgeting, making data-driven decisions and restructuring union contracts, he said. Warren sited these changes as reasons the city has been able to eliminate structural deficit and get expenditures in line with revenue growth.

Warren also highlighted the city’s double triple-A bond rating. The city has maintained a triple bond rating with Moody’s Investor Services for the past seven years and recently got a second highest rating from Standard & Poor’s. This allowed the city to refinance more than $90 million of previously issued debt saving the city more than $16 million in interest payments over the next 22 years.

 

Sustainability

Warren connected finance and sustainability when he discussed how using renewable energy will save taxpayers money.

“Our administration believes strongly that climate change is a threat to all and that we can play a significant role in protecting the environment while saving the taxpayer money,” said Warren.

Recently the city has rolled out a new community-share solar program that provides more than 900 low-income families with discounts on their monthly energy bill.

 

Equity

Warren said that the income inequality gap is growing in Newton. His administration created an initiative called “Economic Growth for All.” The initiative focuses housing transport, childcare, health and wellness—issues that the Mayor says are key to fostering a middle class.

Warren formed a partnership with the President of Boston College, Father William Leahy, to address the income inequality in Newton and increase economic opportunity, according to his speech.

So far there are four working groups each focusing on different piece of equity in Newton. The initiative includes a summer youth internship program and a pilot program on closing the achievement gap.

The Empath pilot, a program for low-income heads of households with children, is also a piece of the initiative. The Empath program allows access to housing and builds skills of achieve fiscal sustainability.

The mayor also highlighted the housing strategy in the city, which includes seven sites that Warren sites as having the potential to better position Newton in terms of economic development, transportation and housing in the future.

“Moderately priced, diverse housing also is critical for business that need qualified employees to meet their workforce requirements. If Newton dos not meet its housing challenge, we are in jeopardy of losing businesses and attracting them to our city,” said Warren.

 

‘Newton in Motion’

During his speech Warren revealed a new transportation program that outlines plans for a bike share program within the next 18 months and expanding a new bike lane program. The plan also includes a pilot for a public-private shuttle to transport employees to work sties during commuting hours. Plans for enhancing streetscapes in West Newton and continuing plans in Walnut and Washington Street and Newton Corner are also outlined in the plan.

 

Innovation

The Mayor reaffirmed his commitment the innovation economy in Newton. He discussed the importance of the two innovation districts, N2 Innovation District and the Charles River Mill District, as well as the Newton Innovation Center, which is a partnership with MassChallenge. Soon renovations will begin on Needham Street to provide a more walkable, bikeable and easier traffic flow for the N2 district.

 

‘One Newton’

Warren urged residents to take the One Newton pledge, where residents commit to building a welcoming and inclusive city for all regardless of race, sex, political persuasion, background or sexual orientation. Recently he has brought in the organization Facing History Ourselves to help the city with this initiative.

“I believe that a strong community showing its signing onto the ‘One Newton’ pledge demonstrates our commitment to civil discourse and assuring that everyone in Newton,” said Warren.

Warren, a Newton native and U.S. Navy veteran, is widely expected to run for governor of Massachusetts in 2018.

Read More: Wicked Local Newton

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One-on-One with Mayor Setti Warren

Setti Warren speaks with Greater Boston’s Jim Braude
Date: February 14, 2017

Read More: WGBH

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Newton Lessons can be Massachusetts Win

By Lynn Daily Item Editorial Board
Date: February 2, 2017

Setti Warren wants to be the second Democrat named Warren to hover like a bright star shining above Massachusetts’ political landscape. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren strode onto the national political stage after beating Republican Scott Brown — and Newton Mayor Warren wants to be the state’s next governor.

He hasn’t announced his candidacy. But the veteran and former Clinton administration official is holding the obligatory conversations to get the word out on his potential run.

He met with the Item’s editorial board on Wednesday after attending a meet-and-greet in Salem and plans to make similar stops over the next four or five months before deciding if he is going to throw his hat into the ring in 2018.

Warren is the full package when it comes to aspirational politicians. He is young and energetic. He served his country enlisting in the Navy after 9/11. He has strong campaign and governing experience and his mayoral track record is an impressive and bold one.

In seeking a second term as mayor in 2013, Warren tied his political fortunes to property-tax- override proposals aimed at giving Newton more revenue to invest in infrastructure. He knew the political risks involved in tying his reelection so closely to the override proposal. But the override passed, Warren got reelected and he intends to duplicate his formula for success if he runs for governor.

Warren backs a proposed millionaire’s tax adding a 4 percent surcharge on the state’s highest wage earners. “This is about asking people really well off to make an investment in the state,” he said.

If Warren runs and becomes the Democratic Party’s choice for governor, it is almost a certainty he will face off in November 2018 against Gov. Charlie Baker.

The Swampscott resident and first-term governor enjoys great voter poll ratings and Baker is taking full advantage of that odd Massachusetts political balance formula subscribing to the notion that voters favor a Democrat-controlled state Legislature and — with Deval Patrick as the exception in recent history — a Republican governor.

It doesn’t take a vivid imagination to conjure up an image of Baker licking his chops at the prospect of running against a Democrat unafraid of raising taxes. But the race for governor is two years away and plenty is bound to happen politically over the next two years.

President Trump might follow through with his promise to spend money on rebuilding America’s infrastructure and pour money into Massachusetts. A federal cash infusion would certainly boost Baker’s electability. But the governor is no friend of Donald Trump’s and Trump knows Massachusetts voted solidly for Hillary Clinton.

Warren knows he has an uphill battle to win the governor’s office. But he has some strong assets working in his favor. He is a skilled listener who wants to hear what people have to say. He is also an articulate advocate for rebuilding what he calls Massachusetts’ “abominable” transportation system.

Warren understands why extending the Blue Line to Lynn works economically. He knows the idea makes simple mass-transit common sense. The Baker administration shows no signs of moving on extension proposals regardless of how long the city has lobbied for it — and pulled the plug on a Lynn-to-Boston ferry last summer.

Can Warren — if he runs and wins — replicate his success in Newton on the state stage? The answer is “yes,” if logic and conversation carry the day.

Read more: Lynn Daily Item

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On the Record: Setti Warren’s talks about experience as mayor, veteran

Setti Warren speaks with On The Record’s Janet Wu and Ed Harding
Date: January 29th, 2017

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Major Mass. Dems Back Newton Mayor in Anticipated Gubernatorial Run

By Alex Newman, Newton Patch
Date: January 27, 2017

NEWTON, MA – Newton Mayor Setti Warren has yet to announce a run against Gov. Charlie Baker in 2018, but he already has some prominent Massachusetts Democrats on his side.

In a letter Friday, former chairs of the Massachusetts Democratic Party Steve Grossman, Phil Johnston and John Walsh threw their support behind Warren as a challenger to Baker.

“As former chairs of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, we have decided to support Newton Mayor Setti Warren as he looks at challenging Charlie Baker,” Grossman, Johnston and Walsh wrote. “Setti has the passion, commitment to progressive values, and track record of leadership that we need more than ever.”

Warren announced last year he would not run for re-election for mayor of Newton and has since been looking at a possible gubernatorial run.

Yesterday, he called on Baker to veto a proposed $18 million pay package for legislators, staffers and members of the state judiciary approved by the Senate, saying the vote was one that “cannot be a rushed discussion behind closed doors” and that he was “strongly opposed to the way this unfolded.”

Read More: Newton Patch

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Groups polarized by politics find common ground

By Setti Warren, MassLive
Date: January 16, 2017

My two kids probably could not think of anything more torturous than being forced to watch a boring speech by the President of the United States, but I made them watch President Obama’s farewell address last Tuesday, anyway.

I told them the things parents usually say: You might learn something. You’re witnessing history. When the president addresses the nation, everyone should listen.

But the truth is, making them watch our first African-American president say goodbye was more about me than them. I didn’t even care if they paid attention; this was a moment I wanted to experience with my arms around them.

As I sat there, a beaming parent and proud Democrat, listening to him once again articulating the progressive themes of his presidency, I started clapping along with applause breaks. Then I heard something that almost made me fall off the couch.

“If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the Internet, try talking with one of them in real life,” President Obama said.

Earlier that night, before I settled in to relive Obama’s list of accomplishments with partisan appreciation, I had convened diverse group of people from my city of Newton for just the kind of frank and friendly conversation the president was suggesting.

A couple of weeks after Election Day last November, I received an email from a fellow veteran and self-described “deplorable” supporter of President-elect Trump. Some days later we sat down to talk, not debate or argue or yell, just talk. It was an eye opening experience and I wanted more.

Along with that Trump-backer, I decided to do a little experiment. I invited three folks who voted for Trump, and three who supported Hilary Clinton to dinner at a popular local restaurant. Every one of them was a little apprehensive, and I’ll admit that I was a little worried about how things would go. But once we started talking and listening to each other, the evening exceeded my highest expectations.

We sat together and talked about where we came from, our backgrounds, and what led us to vote the way we did. Most people in the group did not know one another. As President Obama would suggest hours later, these were strangers who came together in real life to talk.

I ate my Cobb Salad and watched as people with diametrically opposed political views exchanged small talk instead of angry tweets and swapped childhood stories instead of stale talking points. If you gave a quick look to our table, it would have looked like any other group of friends having a warm conversation on a brisk and rainy evening.

It was the routine normalness of the conversation that gave me hope. After an extraordinary election that exposed the white hot fissures in our national political discourse, watching these new friends smile and laugh together reminded me of how much we can achieve when we start to see each others as friends, neighbors and fellow citizens instead of members of rival camps.

The decorated Vietnam veteran who likes Trump and the High School principal who was alarmed by the President-elect’s rhetoric both agree that America is a country where opportunity should be open for all. The pro-life nursery school teacher and the devoted Democrat who regretted not having more time to volunteer to help elect the first woman agree on the importance of national security, and keeping every citizen safe, both at home and abroad.

We have a lot of work to do to get our nation back on track, but our first priority as engaged citizens should be to start breaking the bubble too many of us have created around ourselves by listening only to those with whom we agree. It’s an important project, but it does not have to be a complicated one.

As President Obama reminded us, sometimes you sit down for dinner with a stranger and leave with a friend.

Read more: MassLive

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Warren’s handling of city finances deserves praise

By: Rick Lipoff, Newton Tab
Date: December 8, 2016

As an alderman, and now city councilor, who began serving this community in 1996, I have reviewed and passed 16 budgets under three different mayors and have intimate knowledge of our city’s fiscal history. In the past seven years I have watched Mayor Warren do extraordinary things, most notably manage the city’s finances for today and the future.

This commentary is in response to a recent column submitted by Joshua Norman. Although Mr. Norman purports to be an expert and cites many facts, unfortunately, he often confuses his facts, thus reporting incorrect information. I would like to set the record straight. The Angier School opened on time and came in at least $1 million under budget. The Zervas School is well on its way to opening on time and under budget. And the cost estimate of the Cabot School to the Newton taxpayers is not projected to exceed the $35 million that was projected in the fall of 2012.

Rather than continuing the pension-funding plan of the prior administration, Mayor Warren has shaved nine years off the funding schedule of this liability. Prior to his taking office the City had not yet even begun to address retiree health care liabilities. Under the mayor’s leadership, the City now has more than $4 million in a fund to address these costs and has established a plan to fully fund this significant liability by the year 2042.

Additionally, the mayor has worked with the City Council to set aside more than $19 million in a Rainy Day Fund, maintain the City’s Triple A bond rating, (now analyzed by both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s), reduce average class size in the Newton Public Schools while dealing with enrollment growth of more than 1,000 students in the past six years, implement holistic traffic signalization and village center improvements, and introduce an aggressive pavement management plan that will produce significant roadway improvements throughout the City.

Over the course of the last seven years and working in conjunction with the City Council the mayor has refinanced outstanding debt which will save Newton taxpayers almost $20 million in interest payments, implemented energy efficiency projects that will save another $25 million over 20 years, eliminated the “structural deficit”, developed conservative financial forecasts, implemented comprehensive financial policies, made appropriate investment in the City’s capital infrastructure, and negotiated collective bargaining agreements that do not exceed the City’s revenue structure.

I encourage residents to visit the City’s website and read the Mayor’s FY18-FY22 Five-Year Financial Forecast. Per the document: “This five-year, comprehensive, financial forecast is meant to enable the leadership of the City of Newton to proactively manage personnel costs, operating expenditures, capital improvement plans, technology improvement plans, equipment replacement schedules, and debt service schedules, while maintaining the City’s Triple A bond ratings, providing funding for long term liabilities, setting a path for future generations and ultimately assuring the sustainability of the City of Newton for decades to come.”

Read more: Newton Tab

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